The Netherlands and Scandinavia
Author:
Publish date:
Summary: The Great Controversy: Chapter 13
 
 

In The Netherlands the papal tyranny very early called forth resolute protest. Seven hundred years before Luther's time the Roman pontiff was thus fearlessly impeached by two bishops, who, having been sent on an embassy to Rome, had learned the true character of the "holy see": God "has made His queen and spouse, the church, a noble and everlasting provision for her family, with a dowry that is neither fading nor corruptible, and given her an eternal crown and scepter; . . . all which benefits you like a thief intercept. You set up yourself in the temple of God; instead of a pastor, you are become a wolf to the sheep; . . . you would make us believe you are a supreme bishop, but you rather behave like a tyrant. . . . Whereas you ought to be a servant of servants, as you call yourself, you endeavor to become a lord of lords. . . . You bring the commands of God into contempt. . . . The Holy Ghost is the builder of all churches as far as the earth extends. . . . The city of our God, of which we are the citizens, reaches to all the regions of the heavens; and it is greater than the city, by the holy prophets named Babylon, which pretends to be divine, wins herself to heaven, and brags that her wisdom is immortal; and finally, though without reason, that she never did err, nor ever can."—Gerard Brandt, History of the Reformation in and About the Low Countries, b. 1, p. 6.

Menno Simons.

Public Domain https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Meno_simonis.jpg...

Others arose from century to century to echo this protest. And those early teachers who, traversing different lands and known by various names, bore the character of the Vaudois missionaries, and spread everywhere the knowledge of the gospel, penetrated to the Netherlands. Their doctrines spread rapidly. The Waldensian Bible they translated in verse into the Dutch language. They declared "that there was great advantage in it; no jests, no fables, no trifles, no deceits, but the words of truth; that indeed there was here and there a hard crust, but that the marrow and sweetness of what was good and holy might be easily discovered in it."— Ibid., b. 1, p. 14. Thus wrote the friends of the ancient faith, in the twelfth century.

Now began the Romish persecutions; but in the midst of fagots and torture the believers continued to multiply, steadfastly declaring that the Bible is the only infallible authority in religion, and that "no man should be coerced to believe, but should be won by preaching."—Martyn, vol. 2, p. 87.

The teachings of Luther found a congenial soil in the Netherlands, and earnest and faithful men arose to preach the gospel. From one of the provinces of Holland came Menno Simons. Educated a Roman Catholic and ordained to the priesthood, he was wholly ignorant of the Bible, and he would not read it for fear of being beguiled into heresy. When a doubt concerning the doctrine of transubstantiation forced itself upon him, he regarded it as a temptation from Satan, and by prayer and confession sought to free himself from it; but in vain. By mingling in scenes of dissipation he endeavored to silence the accusing voice of conscience; but without avail. After a time he was led to the study of the New Testament, and this, with Luther's writings, caused him to accept the reformed faith. He soon after witnessed in a neighboring village the beheading of a man who was put to death for having been rebaptized. This led him to study the Bible in regard to infant baptism. He could find no evidence for it in the Scriptures, but saw that repentance and faith are everywhere required as the condition of receiving baptism.

Menno withdrew from the Roman Church and devoted his life to teaching the truths which he had received. In both Germany and the Netherlands a class of fanatics had risen, advocating absurd and seditious doctrines, outraging order and decency, and proceeding to violence and insurrection. Menno saw the horrible results to which these movements would inevitably lead, and he strenuously opposed the erroneous teachings and wild schemes of the fanatics. There were many, however, who had been misled by these fanatics, but who had renounced their pernicious doctrines; and there were still remaining many descendants of the ancient Christians, the fruits of the Waldensian teaching. Among these classes Menno labored with great zeal and success.

For twenty-five years he traveled, with his wife and children, enduring great hardships and privations, and frequently in peril of his life. He traversed the Netherlands and northern Germany, laboring chiefly among the humbler classes but exerting a widespread influence. Naturally eloquent, though possessing a limited education, he was a man of unwavering integrity, of humble spirit and gentle manners, and of sincere and earnest piety, exemplifying in his own life the precepts which he taught, and he commanded the confidence of the people. His followers were scattered and oppressed. They suffered greatly from being confounded with the fanatical Munsterites. Yet great numbers were converted under his labors.

Nowhere were the reformed doctrines more generally received than in the Netherlands. In few countries did their adherents endure more terrible persecution. In Germany Charles V had banned the Reformation, and he would gladly have brought all its adherents to the stake; but the princes stood up as a barrier against his tyranny. In the Netherlands his power was greater, and persecuting edicts followed each other in quick succession. To read the Bible, to hear or preach it, or even to speak concerning it, was to incur the penalty of death by the stake. To pray to God in secret, to refrain from bowing to an image, or to sing a psalm, was also punishable with death. Even those who should abjure their errors were condemned, if men, to die by the sword; if women, to be buried alive. Thousands perished under the reign of Charles and of Philip II.

At one time a whole family was brought before the inquisitors, charged with remaining away from mass and worshiping at home. On his examination as to their practices in secret the youngest son answered: "We fall on our knees, and pray that God may enlighten our minds and pardon our sins; we pray for our sovereign, that his reign may be prosperous and his life happy; we pray for our magistrates, that God may preserve them."—Wylie, b. 18, ch. 6. Some of the judges were deeply moved, yet the father and one of his sons were condemned to the stake.

The rage of the persecutors was equaled by the faith of the martyrs. Not only men but delicate women and young maidens displayed unflinching courage. "Wives would take their stand by their husband's stake, and while he was enduring the fire they would whisper words of solace, or sing psalms to cheer him." "Young maidens would lie down in their living grave as if they were entering into their chamber of nightly sleep; or go forth to the scaffold and the fire, dressed in their best apparel, as if they were going to their marriage."— Ibid., b. 18, ch. 6.

As in the days when paganism sought to destroy the gospel, the blood of the Christians was seed. (See Tertullian, Apology, paragraph 50.) Persecution served to increase the number of witnesses for the truth. Year after year the monarch, stung to madness by the unconquerable determination of the people, urged on his cruel work; but in vain. Under the noble William of Orange the Revolution at last brought to Holland freedom to worship God.

In the mountains of Piedmont, on the plains of France and the shores of Holland, the progress of the gospel was marked with the blood of its disciples. But in the countries of the North it found a peaceful entrance. Students at Wittenberg, returning to their homes, carried the reformed faith to Scandinavia. The publication of Luther's writings also spread the light. The simple, hardy people of the North turned from the corruption, the pomp, and the superstitions of Rome, to welcome the purity, the simplicity, and the life-giving truths of the Bible.

Tausen, "the Reformer of Denmark," was a peasant's son. The boy early gave evidence of vigorous intellect; he thirsted for an education; but this was denied him by the circumstances of his parents, and he entered a cloister. Here the purity of his life, together with his diligence and fidelity, won the favor of his superior. Examination showed him to possess talent that promised at some future day good service to the church. It was determined to give him an education at some one of the universities of Germany or the Netherlands. The young student was granted permission to choose a school for himself, with one proviso, that he must not go to Wittenberg. The scholar of the church was not to be endangered by the poison of heresy. So said the friars.

Tausen went to Cologne, which was then, as now, one of the strongholds of Romanism. Here he soon became disgusted with the mysticisms of the schoolmen. About the same time he obtained Luther's writings. He read them with wonder and delight, and greatly desired to enjoy the personal instruction of the Reformer. But to do so he must risk giving offense to his monastic superior and forfeiting his support. His decision was soon made, and erelong he was enrolled as a student at Wittenberg.

On returning to Denmark, he again repaired to his cloister. No one as yet suspected him of Lutheranism; he did not reveal his secret, but endeavored, without exciting the prejudices of his companions, to lead them to a purer faith and a holier life. He opened the Bible, and explained its true meaning, and at last preached Christ to them as the sinner's righteousness and his only hope of salvation. Great was the wrath of the prior, who had built high hopes upon him as a valiant defender of Rome. He was at once removed from his own monastery to another and confined to his cell under strict supervision.

To the terror of his new guardians several of the monks soon declared themselves converts to Protestantism. Through the bars of his cell Tausen had communicated to his companions a knowledge of the truth. Had those Danish fathers been skilled in the church's plan of dealing with heresy, Tausen's voice would never again have been heard; but instead of consigning him to a tomb in some underground dungeon, they expelled him from the monastery. Now they were powerless. A royal edict, just issued, offered protection to the teachers of the new doctrine. Tausen began to preach. The churches were opened to him, and the people thronged to listen. Others also were preaching the word of God. The New Testament, translated into the Danish tongue, was widely circulated. The efforts made by the papists to overthrow the work resulted in extending it, and erelong Denmark declared its acceptance of the reformed faith.

In Sweden, also, young men who had drunk from the well of Wittenberg carried the water of life to their countrymen. Two of the leaders in the Swedish Reformation, Olaf and Laurentius Petri, the sons of a blacksmith of Orebro, studied under Luther and Melanchthon, and the truths which they thus learned they were diligent to teach. Like the great Reformer, Olaf aroused the people by his zeal and eloquence, while Laurentius, like Melanchthon, was learned, thoughtful, and calm. Both were men of ardent piety, of high theological attainments, and of unflinching courage in advancing the truth. Papist opposition was not lacking. The Catholic priest stirred up the ignorant and superstitious people. Olaf Petri was often assailed by the mob, and upon several occasions barely escaped with his life. These Reformers were, however, favored and protected by the king.

Under the rule of the Roman Church the people were sunken in poverty and ground down by oppression. They were destitute of the Scriptures; and having a religion of mere signs and ceremonies, which conveyed no light to the mind, they were returning to the superstitious beliefs and pagan practices of their heathen ancestors. The nation was divided into contending factions, whose perpetual strife increased the misery of all. The king determined upon a reformation in the state and the church, and he welcomed these able assistants in the battle against Rome.

In the presence of the monarch and the leading men of Sweden, Olaf Petri with great ability defended the doctrines of the reformed faith against the Romish champions. He declared that the teachings of the Fathers are to be received only when in accordance with the Scriptures; that the essential doctrines of the faith are presented in the Bible in a clear and simple manner, so that all men may understand them. Christ said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me" (John 7:16); and Paul declared that should he preach any other gospel than that which he had received, he would be accursed (Galatians 1:8). "How, then," said the Reformer, "shall others presume to enact dogmas at their pleasure, and impose them as things necessary to salvation?"—Wylie, b. 10, ch. 4. He showed that the decrees of the church are of no authority when in opposition to the commands of God, and maintained the great Protestant principle that "the Bible and the Bible only" is the rule of faith and practice.

This contest, though conducted upon a stage comparatively obscure, serves to show us "the sort of men that formed the rank and file of the army of the Reformers. They were not illiterate, sectarian, noisy controversialists—far from it; they were men who had studied the word of God, and knew well how to wield the weapons with which the armory of the Bible supplied them. In respect of erudition they were ahead of their age. When we confine our attention to such brilliant centers as Wittenberg and Zurich, and to such illustrious names as those of Luther and Melanchthon, of Zwingli and Oecolampadius, we are apt to be told, these were the leaders of the movement, and we should naturally expect in them prodigious power and vast acquisitions; but the subordinates were not like these. Well, we turn to the obscure theater of Sweden, and the humble names of Olaf and Laurentius Petri —from the masters to the disciples—what do we find? . . . Scholars and theologians; men who have thoroughly mastered the whole system of gospel truth, and who win an easy victory over the sophists of the schools and the dignitaries of Rome."— Ibid., b. 10, ch.4.

As the result of this disputation the king of Sweden accepted the Protestant faith, and not long afterward the national assembly declared in its favor. The New Testament had been translated by Olaf Petri into the Swedish language, and at the desire of the king the two brothers undertook the translation of the whole Bible. Thus for the first time the people of Sweden received the word of God in their native tongue. It was ordered by the Diet that throughout the kingdom, ministers should explain the Scriptures and that the children in the schools should be taught to read the Bible.

Steadily and surely the darkness of ignorance and superstition was dispelled by the blessed light of the gospel. Freed from Romish oppression, the nation attained to a strength and greatness it had never before reached. Sweden became one of the bulwarks of Protestantism. A century later, at a time of sorest peril, this small and hitherto feeble nation—the only one in Europe that dared lend a helping hand—came to the deliverance of Germany in the terrible struggle of the Thirty Years' War. All Northern Europe seemed about to be brought again under the tyranny of Rome. It was the armies of Sweden that enabled Germany to turn the tide of popish success, to win toleration for the Protestants,—Calvinists as well as Lutherans,—and to restore liberty of conscience to those countries that had accepted the Reformation.

 

Ahead to Chapter 14

Science Deceptions
Media Deceptions
Reformation
Spiritual Deceptions
Health Deceptions
A Basis for Conflict
Is there evidence for Creation science? How does it compare to evolution? The following articles give insight in to these questions and more.
Conforming Under Pressure Evolution Is Not Science—It's Religion The Big Bang Theory How Can We See Stars That Are Billions Of Light Years Away? Creation and Evolution: Is Compromise Possible? Understanding the Creation Week Geocentricity: It's Time to Face the Facts The Rise of Evolutionary Thinking Earth's History: Conflicting Paradigms Lamarck Proposes Natural Selection Where did the Universe Come From? Evidence for a Young Universe Age Of The Earth A Basis for Conflict Articles Is Carbon-Dating Accurate? Flood Chronology
Evidence in Stone
Can we understand the age of the earth by the rocks? What theory does the evidence support?
Soft Rock Evidence for Rapid Washout
The Fossil Record
What does the fossil record show us? Is it all random or a defined science that we can understand? Where does evolution fit? Uncover mysteries in the history of the Earth.
Evolution of the Horse Evolutionary Sequences Order in the Fossil Record Explosive Evolution Fossils prove a Flood Fossil Footprints Dinosaurs and the Flood Petrified Trees The Biblical Flood Reasons For Extinction Fossil Reefs The Post-Flood World Human Evolution
Genes of Genesis
As we study the genome, the molecule, and the atom, we see a vast network of intricate systems beyond our understanding. Were these systems really formed by chance?
Why So Many Species - Glossary Is the Gastraea Hypothesis Viable? Mechanisms For Variation Built-in Variation in the Gene Pool "Species" versus "Kind" Molecules That Began Life Creating Life in a Test Tube? Reproductive Exchange Natural Selection Transposable Elements Natural Selection as a Creative Force Recombination of Chromosomes Ernst Haeckel's Theories Dinosaur Extinction and Global Catastrophe Variation and Classification Why So Many Species? Evolution: Miracle of Miracles Spiders and the Creative Genius of God The Australian Problem Synesthesia: Mystery of God’s Creation
Creation to Restoration
How did this world change from the perfection depicted in Genesis to a world full of thorns, thistles, parasites, and death? If God made everything perfect, how could it have all been so changed?
A Good World Gone Bad An Imperfect Planet Evidence For Design Evidence For Transformation Rapid Transformation Clean and Unclean: The History of the Human Diet The Dawn Chorus and Life Forces
Archaeology and the Bible
Archaeology and prophecy have proven the Bible to be true. But what's so special about the Bible that makes it a point of so much controversy?
Archaeology Confirms the Bible The Lost Books of the Bible
Crossing Musical Boundaries
Music is a powerful emotional motivator that crosses cultural and language barriers. Its message can be understood by every culture and people across the planet.
Can You Feel the Music? The Bible and Rock Music: Are they Compatible? The Last Great Contest – Worship From the Horse's Mouth: The Rock Industry Condemns Itself
Hollywood and the Movies
What is the system of worship found most often in our society? Does it glorify God?
Hollywood's History Gnostic Themes in the Movies Hollywood and Gnosticism
Brain Closed—Please Come Again
Research has shown that our sensitivity to stimuli reduces itself yearly by about 1%. Is your brain hibernating?
The Dangers of Television
Beware of the television's abilities to hypnotize, alter moods, and even cause depression.
Violence and Video Games
Like music and movies, video games are addictive and can cause behavioral problems.
The Origins of Halloween
What is the origin behind this popular festival celebrated every October 31?
Catholic Councils
What happened at the Council of Trent? The First Vatican Council The Second Vatican Council
The Jesuits
Learn what people throughout history have had to say on the reputation, history, and political nature of the Jesuit Order.
Ignatius Loyola and Spiritual Formation Protestantism Destroyed The Jesuit Superior General
The Pope Claims to be God on Earth
Read proof that throughout the Roman Church's history, the Papacy has often claimed that the Pope is divine.
Cross and Crown
This book "Cross and Crown" is a powerful and thrilling recital of the most romantic and dramatic incidents in history to be found on record, told in the simplest, most graphic, and entertaining form.
The Aggressive Intentions of the Papacy
The historian Ranke says this about Protestant-Catholic relations: "In the year 1617, everything betokened a decisive conflict between them. The Catholic party appears to have felt itself the superior. At all events it was the first to take up arms."

This article highlights quotes from historical and Catholic sources proving the Papacy's aggressive nature.
The Bloody History of Papal Rome - A Timeline The Bloody History of Papal Rome - Quotes Christianity and Violence
Stories of the Reformation
Dive into history to uncover the remarkable stories of faith and passion in early Protestantism.
Philipp Melanchthon John Laski Jerome of Prague John Wycliffe Louis De Berquin Gaspard De Coligny
Religious Doublespeak
Language can be used to communicate both truth and lies. Learn about the religious doublespeak being used to pull the wool over the eyes of the world.
Hegelian Thinking and World Politics
Hegelian dialectic thinking is applied in many situations in world politics. Often the ordinary people are used as pawns in the game of Hegelian psychology played by those who pull the strings of world control.
The Great Controversy
Read this classic work by Ellen G. White.
The Destruction of Jerusalem Persecution in the First Centuries An Era of Spiritual Darkness The Waldenses John Wycliffe Huss and Jerome Luther's Separation From Rome Luther Before the Diet The Swiss Reformer Progress of Reform in Germany Protest of the Princes The French Reformation The Netherlands and Scandinavia Later English Reformers The Bible and the French Revolution The Pilgrim Fathers Heralds of the Morning An American Reformer Light Through Darkness A Great Religious Awakening A Warning Rejected Prophecies Fulfilled What is the Sanctuary? In the Holy of Holies God's Law Immutable A Work of Reform Modern Revivals Facing Life's Record The Origin of Evil Enmity Between Man and Satan Agency of Evil Spirits Snares of Satan The First Great Deception Can Our Dead Speak to Us? Liberty of Conscience Threatened The Impending Conflict The Scriptures a Safeguard The Final Warning The Time of Trouble God's People Delivered Desolation of the Earth The Controversy Ended
Prophecynew!
How will Christ return, and what will it mean for His people?
The First Beast—Comparing Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 Revelation Identifies End-Time Babylon The Second Beast of Revelation 13 Identifying the Antichrist The Final Confederacy Walking Through Daniel The Seven Plagues Walking through Revelation
Religious Trendsnew!
What are the trends in the religious world today? Sun Worship, The UN and the One World Religion, Eastern Mysticism and Spiritism... Just what do all these things mean in light of Bible prophecy?
Sun Worship Babylonian Religion Politics and the Papacy Paganism and Mary Wealth Redistribution The Charismatic Movement Unity at All Cost? Sustainability Spiritism throughout Religions Catholic Pentecostalism Paganism and Christmas Pentecostalism The Charismatic Movement and Spiritual Gifts Manifesting the Charismatic Spirit The New Age Movement Paganism in our Culture The United Nations' Global Government The History of Tongues Secret Societies Signs and Wonders Revival and the "Power of God" What’s So Bad about Spiritual Formation? Zionism
Sabbathnew!
Most people can understand the reasoning behind nine of the Ten Commandments—don't kill, don't lie, don't steal. But what about the Sabbath Commandment? Why would God give such a law? Why should we follow it?
What is the Seventh-Day Sabbath? Creation and the Sabbath The Weekly Cycle Why Sunday? Sabbath FAQ
The Second Coming of Christnew!
How will Christ return, and what will it mean for His people?
Signs of The Second Coming of Christ Viewpoints How Christ will Return What will Happen to God's People? What will Happen to the Rejecters of God? Will there be a Secret Rapture? The Millennium of Peace
The Biblenew!
Can the Bible be trusted to provide answers to our questions? Does it contain truth? Learn about the evidence that proves the Bible's authenticity.
Choosing the Books of the Bible Archaeology Confirms the Bible Scripture is Inspired by God Testing the Gospel of Thomas Studying Scripture Testing the Gospel of Judas The Spirit in Scripture The Gospel Story The Lost Books of the Bible Spiritual Gifts
Jesusnew!
Is Jesus really who He says He is?
Who is Jesus?
Christian Living: Sin and Salvationnew!
Consider the crucial points of the Christian life.
Christian Living Good God, Bad World. Why? God's Plan to Eradicate Sin The Ceremonial Feasts Pointed to Christ
Death
Is there more to death than the fact that it is the opposite of life? What are the false doctrines involving the immortality of the soul?
Death: Understanding the Terminology A Biblical Understanding of Death The Resurrection of Lazarus Spiritism Hell and Purgatory An Immediate Afterlife? The Parable of Lazarus
Excitotoxins
Excitotoxins cause physical and spiritual destruction. Learn about the main types of exitotoxins and what can be done to avoid them.
Aspartame MSG: Is This Silent Killer Lurking in Your Kitchen Cabinets
Is a Little Wine Good for the Heart?
Reports show that red wine may be beneficial to heart health. Is that a good enough reason to start drinking alcohol?
Is a Little Wine Good for the Soul?
The Dairy Controversy
Get the truth about lactose, calcium, and the need for caution around dairy products.
Drink Milk? Udder Propaganda Lactose Intolerance Calcium
Poisoned Meats
Today's meat and dairy industries are focused on profit rather than health.
The History of the Human Diet
Genetically Modified Foods
The agriculture industry is fast becoming reliant on genetically modified foods. Learn the facts about GMOs and the effects this trend is having on health worldwide.
Soy Safety Summarized Still Eating Genetically Modified Foods? The Big GMO Cover-up
Refined Grains
Most of the bread products consumed today are made of refined grains. Are our breakfast cereals and "fortified" loaves as healthy as we like to think?
The Gluten Connection: Weighing in Against Modern Wheat
Coffee
Do the stimulating benefits of coffee really outweigh the costs?
America's Number One Drug Problem—Coffee Caffeine
Sugar—Affecting the Body and Mind
Refined sugar is addictive, destructive, and devoid of any nutritional value. Why does it continue to be a staple food across the world?
Sugar and Mental Illness Eating Sugar is Worse than Eating Nothing at All Sugar Substitutes The Truth About Evaporated Cane Juice
Can You Beat the Nicotine?
Smoking leads to massive amounts of sickness and death every year. Can you beat the nicotine?
Kicking the Tobacco Habit Nicotine and Depression
Necessary Treatments?
From mammograms to prescription drugs, the modern medical industry is always presenting a new way to diagnose and solve health issues. But are these new treatments really healing anything?
Mammograms or Thermal Imaging? How to Kill a Cold, Starve a Fever Many Doctors Ignore the Root Cause of Cancer Are Hospital Births or Home Births Safer? Compromise in the Pharmaceutical Industry Hepatitis B Vaccines Mercury Poisoning from Amalgam Dental Fillings Tylenol, the tip of the iceberg
Deathtraps in the Cosmetics we Use
There isn't one person I have ever met who knew anything about cosmetics, and that is because the chemistry of cosmetics has always been cloaked in secrecy.
Depression
Find practical ideas for dealing with depression in these articles about symptoms and treatments.
Diseases of the Mind SAD and Bright Light Therapy
Get Healthy!
We are surrounded by unhealthy foods, unwise practices, and even harmful medical advice. Learn how to overcome these obstacles and choose a healthy lifestyle.
The Eight Laws of Health "You've Changed" When Sin Has Nothing To Feed Upon Physical and Spiritual Health Use it or Lose it! Living off the Land An Attitude of Gratitude Serving Others The Healing Power of Honey A Healthy Attitude Iron in the Vegan Diet Healing
Helpful Health Charts
These graphs and tables can help you jumpstart your health routine.
Sources of Calcium - Chart Animal Products and Food-borne Illness Chocolate and Carob Compared Compatible Combinations of Plant Foods - Graph Acid and Alkaline Ash Food Groups - Graph Schedule for a Healthy Lifestyle