Unhampered by Political Correctness
fter discussing the intense persecution of God’s faithful people during the early Christian centuries at the hands of pagans, Ellen G. White, in The Great Controversy, goes on to describe an era of spiritual darkness, a time of apostasy that saw the church itself persecuting fellow Christians for nonconformity. In the midst of those dreadful times, spanning some 1,000 years, Christian stalwarts in many lands bucked the prevailing wind—Christians in places such as England, Central Africa, and Armenia (p. 63).
But chief among these groups, says White, were the Waldenses of Italy. They put up stiff resistance, she said, “in the very land where popery had fixed its seat” (p. 64).
Following are nine additional highlights of White’s commentary on these intrepid Christians:
1. They represented a theological contrast to the doctrines of the dominant church. “Their religious belief was founded upon the written word of God” (p. 64).
2. They were “humble peasants,” not trained theologians. In their “obscure retreats,” theirs was a life of “daily toil among their flocks and . . . vineyards” (p. 64).
3. They did not invent new truths. Rather, they were contending “for the faith of the apostolic church” (p. 64).
4. They drew strength from their natural hideaway. “The mountains that girded their lowly valleys were a constant witness to God’s creative power, and a never-failing assurance of His protecting care” (p. 66). They were neither lonely nor did they feel sorry for themselves. Instead, “they thanked God that He had provided for them an asylum from the wrath and cruelty of men. They rejoiced in their freedom to worship before Him” (p. 66).
5. They were totally committed to God. Their piety was “pure, simple, and fervent.” They valued the principles of truth “above houses and lands, friends, kindred, even life itself” (p. 67).
6. They passed on their values to their children, teaching them “economy and . . . self-denial” (p. 67). Unafraid of spiritual contamination, however, they sent some of their children “to institutions of learning in the cities of France or Italy, where was a more extended field for study, thought, and observation than in their native Alps” (p. 70).
7. They were always prepared for mission. “Their garments were so prepared as to conceal their greatest treasure—the precious manuscripts of the Scriptures. . . . And whenever they could do so without exciting suspicion, they cautiously placed some portion in the way of those whose hearts seemed open to receive the truth” (p. 70).
8. They were stalwart defenders of righteousness by faith. In their day “thousands [from the popular church] abandoned friends and kindred, and spent their lives in convent cells,” fasting, scourging themselves through “weary hours upon the cold, damp stones of their dreary abode” (p. 72). Others made “long pilgrimages,” engaging in “humiliating penance and fearful torture” (p. 72). To all of these the Waldenses longed to give the message of “Christ as their only hope of salvation” (p. 73).
9. They were the precursors of the Reformation. “Scattered over many lands, they planted the seeds of the Reformation that began in the time of Wycliffe, grew broad and deep in the days of Luther, and is to be carried forward to the close of time by those who also are willing to suffer all things for ‘the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ Revelation 1:9” (p. 78).