It has been 477 years since 1533; the year Henry VIII divorced his first wife, Spanish Catholic Catherine of Aragon, in order to marry Anne Boleyn. The respected historian, Merle d’Aubigne, places Henry’s divorce in its larger context,
The conquest of Christian Britain by the papacy occupied all the seventh century…. The sixteenth was the counterpart of the seventh. The struggle which England then had to sustain, in order to free herself from the power that had enslaved her during nine hundred years was…the positive work of the Reformation—that which consisted in recovering the truth and life so long lost…. As regards the negative work—the struggle with the popedom…the main point in this contest was not the divorce (which was only the occasion) but the contest itself and its important consequences. The divorce of Henry Tudor and Catherine of Aragon is a secondary event; but the divorce of England and the popedom is a primary event, one of the great watersheds of history….(1)
Henry VIII wanted a church that would give him his desired divorce. He also wanted financial freedom from the Church of Rome. However in 1529 Wolsey, the Catholic Cardinal, along with his clergy wielded great power in England so as to challenge even Henry himself. Consequently it became Henry’s plan to release the clergy from the Pontiff and attach it to the crown. But this could not be accomplished through a simple act of royal authority because of constitutional governmental principles which had already been established. As a result, the clergy had to free itself from its bondage to Papal Rome.(2) Providentially, William Tyndale had just finished translating the New Testament into English and by 1526 Hanseatic merchants from Antwerp were importing it surreptitiously into England where it was becoming widely read. Thus was England being prepared to throw off the yoke of Papal Rome to attain both the liberty to worship Biblically and the freedom to live without fear from a tyrannical monarch.(3)
However, while Henry VIII broke with Papal Rome politically, he personally never moved beyond Roman Catholic doctrine. Nevertheless he came to see that he could use the growing Reformation movement for his own political ends. By allowing the Biblical truths of the Reformation to permeate all levels of society to a certain extent, the clergy itself could be loosed from Rome’s dogma and therefore its control. But he never planned for the clergy to be free from his own control as England’s sovereign.
In the course of events, King Henry appointed Thomas Cranmer as Archbishop of Canterbury.(4) Cranmer was basically responsible for the Thirty-Nine Articles. Solid Christian doctrine was embedded in The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion that were propagated soon after Henry’s death(5) and officially ratified by the Convocation of the Church of England initially in 1553 and then more formally in 1562. The Articles affirmed that Scripture alone is the final authority on salvation, which is clearly defined as a gift of God given by grace alone, received through faith alone, and is in Christ alone. Thus the Thirty-Nine Articles repudiate teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.
Ever since Henry’s severance of English servitude to the Pope, the Vatican has been intent on undermining the religious and political influence of the Church of England and its monarch. The proposed September 2010 Papal visit to the UK is no exception to this centuries-long Vatican policy. By choosing to elevate John Henry Newman in a thoroughly Roman Catholic ecclesiastical event at this particular time, Benedict is mounting an offensive to demonstrate visibly to the world that the UK is being brought back under Roman Catholic bondage. The Papacy would then be in a much stronger position to influence social policy in the UK, including further enlistment of the civil government to force by civil law Roman Catholic social policy upon the populace as a whole.
Re-emergence of the Holy Roman Empire
Against the backdrop of the re-emergence of the Holy Roman Empire, the nearly five hundred year battle between Protestant England and the Papacy continues unabated. In 1798, a little over two centuries ago, Napoleon’s general removed the reigning Pope from his throne in Rome, confiscated the church’s properties, and left the tottering Holy Roman Empire in ruins. However, the Papacy itself in spite of appearances had not been permanently destroyed as a religious and civil power, and it used the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to regain much of the ground it had lost.
On December 1, 2009, the Treaty of Lisbon went into effect in the European Union (EU). The Treaty is a further step in the centralization of civil power within the EU. One of the major features of the Treaty is that it “introduces a single legal personality for the [European] Union.”(6) Consequently, this major move against the sovereignty of the member countries has to a large extent subsumed them as states or regions under a new realm or legal entity still bearing the same title of European Union.
Re-emerged Empire has a Pope
Since the Holy See is a sovereign nation in its own right and not a member nation of the EU, it does not come under the legal jurisdiction of that body. Nevertheless, as head of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope has a reliable fifth column within the member nations of the EU. Thus the re-emerged Holy Roman Empire clearly has its Pope.(7) This fifth column, whose first identity is Catholic, is required by the Papacy to “evangelize” by promoting Roman Catholic social policy. Thus the Papacy wields immense power both politically and spiritually within the European Union.
With the Treaty of Lisbon in force, there is a de facto re-emergence of the Papacy as a cohesive politico-religious power, which now has been given the opportunity to enhance its position on the Western stage. Less than four months after the ratification of the Treaty, on March 16, 2010, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom announced that “At the invitation of Her Majesty The Queen, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI will pay a Papal Visit to the United Kingdom from the 16th-19th September 2010….”(8) The Roman Catholic website, Zenit, gives fuller details:
Benedict XVI will be visiting September 16-19. Government and Church leaders are welcoming the upcoming event. In a joint press conference, the state leaders together with representatives from the bishops’ conferences of Scotland, England and Wales, underlined the Pope’s visit as “an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen ties between the United Kingdom and the Holy See on global initiatives, as well as the important role of faith in creating strong communities.” A press release from the British embassy to the Holy See reported that this is the first ever official Papal visit to that state, as the previous trip of Pope John Paul II in 1982 was a pastoral visit. The Pontiff…will address the British civil society at Westminster Hall [both houses of Parliament].(9)
Now in our time, 477 years after Henry VIII opened the primary conflict, Pope Benedict XVI officially comes as the head of a sovereign civil state, the Holy See(10), to address British civil society at both houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall. But equally important, he comes as head of the Roman Catholic Church in order to re-establish Roman Catholicism as the religion of the UK.
Thus Benedict XVI has cleverly chosen to use the beatification of John Henry Newman in the UK to promote both religious and political control of the Church of England. That this is the case cannot be denied from a study of the facts concerning John Henry Newman and the Oxford movement. It is further corroborated by the history of Roman Catholic social doctrine as evidenced in the Vatican’s “Compendium of Church Social Doctrine,” the documents of Vatican Council II on ecumenism and numerous other false ecumenical agreements since Vatican Council II(11). In addition there was the Pope’s call in June 2009 for a super-governmental body over the United Nations (UN) to globally enforce UN social policy, which is essentially Roman Catholic Church social policy.(12)
Pope to Arrive First in Scotland
It is also highly significant that the visit is to be exactly 450 years since Romanism, as the state religion, and the Pope’s authority were formally removed from Scotland(13). However Scotland’s national newspaper The Scotsman stated further, “Church leaders have revealed the Pope will use his visit to remind Britain of its Catholic roots.”(14) Thus the 450th anniversary of the Scot’s abolition of Papal authority in their realm will be dishonored by a pope reminding Britain of its “Catholic roots.” More exactly, history documents the fact that Scotland actually has Christian roots going back to Columba. In 563 on the island of Iona, he founded a church and a base for training leaders to evangelize the nation with the Gospel.
The World Stage Is Set for the Pontiff
The pivotal figure of John Henry Newman is to be used to enthrall the world with all the pomp and pageantry of Papal Rome in full glory mode. The televised ceremonies will culminate with a public Mass in Coventry, at which the Pontiff will beatify John Henry Newman. The Pope will perform the second stage of the English Cardinal’s canonization, or path to sainthood, by virtue of which Newman will be pronounced “Blessed.” In 1991, Newman was declared “Venerable,” the first of the three stages of the process of becoming a Roman Catholic “saint.” It is customary for beatifications to be carried out at a local level.
Benedict, however, especially desires to highlight Newman’s teachings, which over the years have been a basis of the Vatican’s promotion of false ecumenism. Newman’s “reformulation of doctrine” and his teaching on “continuing revelation” have been particularly influential. Pope Benedict calls this “the hermeneutic of continuity” explaining, “In a word: it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the [Second Vatican] Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim.”(15) Thus Newman’s concept of “continuing revelation” gives the Pope freedom of interpretation even of their Vatican Council documents. Such room for maneuver Biblically and historically is highly perilous. This injurious conjecture was particularly used by those responsible for formulating the Agreed Statements of “The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission” (ARCIC).(16) This false ecumenical endeavor has already been quite successful. Many of the priests and members of the Church of England have already submitted to Papal Rome. The Pope, in elevating Newman to the status of “blessed,” does much more. He seriously endeavours in the 21st century to finally recapture Protestant England back into the Roman Catholic Church fold. This is the culmination of what Newman himself set out to accomplish in the mid-19th century.
Who Was John Henry Newman?
Some ask the question, “Who was John Henry Newman, and why he is important?” Logos Bible Software’s Catholic Product Manager answers:
From his evangelical youth to his leadership of the Anglo-Catholic Oxford Movement to his embrace of Roman Catholicism, the career and legacy of John Henry Newman is marked by brilliance and controversy. His engagement with liberal, [E]vangelical and [C]atholic movements within the Church of England in his time makes him a pivotal figure, important for understanding the Anglican Communion today….(17)
John Henry Newman was born in London in 1801. Within Anglicanism, Newman’s family had maintained strong bonds to Biblical faith, which had exercised considerable influence on his early religious life. In the autumn of 1816 he underwent what appeared to be a religious conversion. The tone of his mind at this time became Evangelical and Reformed and, significantly, he held to the conviction that the Pope was Antichrist. In December of 1816 he was welcomed at Trinity College Oxford, and went into residence there in June of the following year, graduating in 1821.
Looking to stay at Oxford, he studied to become a professor(18) at Oriel College, which was at the time the acknowledged center of Oxford intellectualism. He was elected a professor in April, 1822. In 1824, he was ordained as an Anglican priest. Then at the suggestion of E.B. Pusey, who was also a professor at Oriel, he served as a curate of St. Clements, Oxford. In sermons that Newman preached at the time, he correctly distinguished between justification and regeneration. However, by 1825, the denial of the Biblical concept of justification and an increasing acceptance of the un-Biblical notion of conferred inner righteousness with leanings towards sacramentalism became apparent in his understanding. In that year, he wrote in his diary, “I think; I am not certain, I must give up the doctrine of imputed righteousness, and that of regeneration as apart from baptism.”(19)
By 1833, Newman was completely won over to accepting what he saw as the Roman Catholic heritage of the Anglican Church, including the papal dogmas of infused justification and baptismal regeneration. It had its consequences, as Anglican historian Walter Walsh recounts from the collected letters of Richard Froude and Newman,
Cardinal Newman stated that he ever considered the 14th of July “as the start of the religious Movement of 1833.” A few months before that date, Newman, in company with his friend, Richard Hurrell Froude…had visited Monsignor (subsequently Cardinal) Wiseman at Rome. “We got introduced to him…to find out whether they would take us in [i.e., to the Church of Rome] on any terms to which we could twist our consciences, and we found to our dismay that not one step could be gained without swallowing the Council of Trent as a whole.”
“While on this journey Newman fell seriously ill…and decided to return at once to England…. He tells us, ‘I sat down on my bed, and began to sob violently. My servant…asked me what ailed me, I could only answer him – ‘I have a work to do in England.’ What that work was we now know full well. It was that of Romanizing the Church of England.” (20)
“Romanizing” the Church of England
At Oxford Newman together with other “High Church” academics (including John Keble, Froude, William Palmer, and E. B. Pusey) formed a secret association from which Newman began to publish numerous tracts that were effective in spreading their message. The primary association became known as The Oxford Movement and the Ritualistic Movement. Walsh documents the purpose of the Oxford or Ritualistic Movement from Union Review, one of their leading quarterly magazines,
The great object of the Ritualistic Movement from its very birth, in 1833, was that of Corporate Reunion with the Church of Rome…. As far back as 1867, a leading quarterly of the advanced Ritualists declared that, instead of seceding to Rome, “it would be much better for us to remain working where we are—for what would become of England if we [Ritualists] were to leave her Church? She would be simply lost to Catholicism…. Depend on it, it is only through the English Church itself that England can be Catholicised.” (21)
The same article that referred to this corporate and visible unity with the Church of Rome declared, “Here you have the real heart and soul of the present Movement; this is the centre from which its pulsations vibrate, and from which its life-blood flows.” (22)
The same “corporate and visible unity” is stressed in Vatican Council II documents and the Vatican’s “Compendium of Church Social Doctrine.” While the strategy used to achieve this in America is a bit different than that originally used on the Church of England(23), the false ecumenical movement formally announced at Vatican Council II in the 1960s has been accomplishing the same end – “corporate and visible unity.” (24) This is the objective behind the Vatican’s reference to the purpose of the coming Papal visit to England; namely, as “an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen ties between the United Kingdom and the Holy See on…the important role of faith in creating strong communities [i.e., churches].”
For a number of years, Newman remained inside the Church of England. His plan was to transform it by stealth, primarily by withholding from the congregation the great truths of Scripture concerning atonement, faith and works, and the free grace of God. In their place, he and others in his movement begin to slip in little by little the dogmas of Rome with its basis in ritual rather than teaching the great biblical doctrines from Scripture alone(25). The stealth and intrigue by which Newman and his associates carried out their objectives warrants them being tagged as wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Newman Perverts the Gospel
In his book, Lectures on the Doctrine of Justification originally published in 1838, Newman put forth his exposition of the Gospel. He anticipated the rapprochement between Roman Catholic and Biblical positions seen in the ecumenical dialogue of the 20th century until the present time. His teaching crucially distorts and undermines the pivotal truth—the truth that God’s righteousness in the Lord Jesus Christ is imputed or credited to the believer. New-man taught through these lectures what Sheridan, the Jesuit, defined as a “synthesis of justification and regeneration.”(26) This was to be a hallmark of the transformed Newman; he now denied what he had previously upheld. Thus, he wrote in his Lectures on Justification, “The Law written on the heart, or spiritual renovation, is that which justifies us” (45). However, the Apostle Paul states the opposite in Scripture, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). The law as such convicts and condemns us and can never justify us. As Martin Luther discovered, and the Reformation confirmed, this doctrine is at the very heart of the Gospel.
Newman was well aware of the forensic meaning of justification, basing it on the Greek and Hebrew texts of Scripture. The Apostolic message of the New Testament is that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was “made a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13) and “suffered for the unjust” (1 Peter 3:18). In the words of Scripture, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.… For He hath made Him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:19, 21). God laid our sins on Jesus Christ by imputation, the just for the unjust. “He was numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12). This is how He was “made…to be sin for us.” There was nothing in Him worthy of death. But, having been made to bear our sin by imputation, He was condemned by the righteous judgment of God. In this sense, it was right and proper that Christ should suffer the wrath of God. He had to be treated as if He were a sinner.
It is on this same basis that God deals with us. He credits Christ’s righteousness to the believing sinner. Hence, as His true disciples, we now bear His righteousness by imputation. He declares that same sinner just and righteous in Christ’s perfect righteousness, as wonderfully stated by the Apostle, “being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
Newman knew the strength of this Biblical argument and was not disposed to refute it, as many Roman Catholic scholars over many years vainly tried to do. Despite that, he contended that the word “justify” signifies a making righteous, rather than a receiving of imputed righteousness. On this controversial point, Newman achieved what appeared to be a brilliant synthesis between Scripture and Roman Catholic teaching.
Newman Forges Tool for the Papacy
Newman believed that he had found a “middle way,” what he called a “via media,” between papal dogma and the Scriptures. His “reformulated doctrine” determined that creation and justification are exactly alike. Thus, he taught that just as in the beginning when God said, “Let there be light, and there was light” and just as the Word of God and the work of God went together in creation, so it is again “in the regeneration.”(27) Such a teaching may seem to have a form of godliness since it uses a Biblical example as its model. It is false, however, in that it denies the repeated Biblical statements concerning imputed righteousness.(28) In justification, God does not create righteousness as a substance: rather, God imputes righteousness without works. This is as the Apostle stated, “the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works” (Romans 4:6). A declaration by God is a pronouncement and not a process.
Newman’s cunning theological deception makes it possible to depend on the Church of Rome’s sacraments to be filled with goodness—like a filling station through which grace is channeled into the soul. Newman’s attempt to associate creation with justification and thus to teach subjective righteousness as fact is a violation of God’s inerrant written Word and rank deceit.
Newman: Point Man to Recapture England
While still a priest within the Church of England, by 1840 the suspicion that Newman had become a campaigner for Roman Catholicism neared certainty with the publication of his notorious “Tract 90.” In that tract, he used sophistry and casuistry to argue that the Thirty-Nine Articles (which state the Biblical position of the Anglican Church on salvation), if rightly understood, were compatible with the doctrine and dogma of the Church of Rome. Although the Thirty-Nine Articles repudiate teachings and practices of the Catholic Church(29), this tract was subtly clever in undermining the Reformed Protestant identity of the historic Articles of the Church of England. For example, Section 5 of the conclusion of Tract 90 states,
They say that the Church has authority in controversies, they do not say what authority. They say that it may enforce nothing beyond Scripture, but do not say where the remedy lies when it does. They say the works before grace and justification are worthless and worse, and that works after grace and justification are acceptable, but they do not speak at all of works with GOD’s aid, before justification. (30)
Such sophistry was a blatant denial of the very principle of the authority of Scripture alone and clearly promotes an argumentative attitude towards it. After Tract 90, it became apparent that Newman was committed to defending papal doctrine. He was officially received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1845 and ordained a Catholic priest the following year.
Thus in the 19th century, the Papacy used John Henry Newman as their point man to subvert the Church of England to Roman Catholicism and thereby set in motion a developing plan to regain England as a Catholic country(31). We may think that all this is the sound of “far-off things and battles long ago.” However, the Vatican ever thinks in terms of centuries. Benedict XVI, a skillful politician, understands that England lost its sovereign status in December 2009 when the Treaty of Lisbon went into effect. Little wonder then that the second stage of the “beatification” of Newman has had to wait until now.
Pope Benedict’s clever strategy as a civil head of state is of no worth before the Lord God Almighty. We can be sincerely thankful that in the Lord God’s supreme wisdom He has determined a limit to the intrigue of Papal Rome. It will be punished for its continued rejection of the Lordship of Christ. In the meantime, the Lord’s people need not be deceived by the enticing spectacle that is to be paraded before the world in September 2010.
We all know that we live in difficult apostate days. In very similar circumstances J.C. Ryle encouraged believers in the UK in the 19th century to remain strong and not to compromise. In “The True Church,” he declared,
This is the church, which does the work of Christ on earth. Its members are a little flock and few in number, one or two here and two or three there, a few in this district and a few in that. But these are they that shake the universe; who change the fortune of kingdoms by their prayers; these are they who are the active workers for spreading the knowledge of pure religion and undefiled; these are the lifeblood of the country, the shield, the defense, the stay and the support of any nation to which they belong.
Thus the Lord’s people “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3), knowing that “whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).
1. J. H. Merle d’Aubigne, The Reformation in England 2 Volumes (Banner of Truth Trust, 1962) Volume I, 337-338.
2. For more information, see d’Aubigne, Volume II, 55-56.
3. For more information, see d’Aubigne, Volume I, 245-248.
4. The primary divorce of England from the popedom of Rome did come about fully with much bloodshed of English martyrs, including Thomas Cranmer, as they in obedience to the Scriptures served the Lord Jesus Christ.
5. This occurred during the short reign of King Edward VI.
6. http://europa.eu/lisbon_treaty/glance/index_en.htm 5/15/2010.
7. See “Papal Rome and the European Union” at http://temp.bereanbeacon.org.
8. http://www.royal.gov.uk 4/8/2010.
9. http://www.zenit.org/article-28654?l=english 22/03/2010. Emphasis added.
10. The Vatican as a sovereign state is legally called “Holy See.”
11. See Michael de Semlyen’s books, All Roads Lead to Rome? The Ecumenical Movement (1993) and The Foundations Under Attack: The Roots of Apostasy (2006).
12. See “The Pope’s Plans on Organizing Political, Economic and Religious Activities Worldwide,” at http://temp.bereanbeacon.org.
13. “By August 1560, the French forces had been expelled from Scotland through aid sent from England, and the queen-regent had died, allowing a free Scottish Parliament to assemble and formally abolish Popery.” http://www.reformation-scotland.org.uk/articles/john-knox-and-scottish-reformation.php 6/1/2010.
14. On March 17, 2010: http://news.scotsman.com/glasgow/Holyrood-to-play–.6157450.jp
15. http://www.adoremus.org/1107BXVI_122205.html 6/9/2010.
16. The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission was established by Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey and Pope Paul VI in 1967. Its terms of reference were established by the Malta Report in the following year and it has worked in two phases – 1970-1981, and 1983-2005.
17. http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=338121888230 5/14/2010. Emphasis added.
18. At the time in Oxford, the position was called “a fellow.”
19. John Henry Newman, Autobiographical Writings, 203.
20. Walter Walsh, The Secret History of the Oxford Movement, Fourth Edition (London: Swan Sonneshine & Co., Ltd., 1898), 263. Emphasis in original.
21. Walsh, 260-261.
22. Walsh, 261. Emphasis in original.
23. See articles on false ecumenism at http://temp.bereanbeacon.org
24. Thus Post Vatican Council II Document No. 42, “Reflections and Suggestions Concerning Ecumenical Dialogue” Volume I, Section VI, II states, “…dialogue is not an end in itself…it is not just an academic discussion.” Rather, “ecumenical dialogue…serves to transform modes of thought and behavior and the daily life of those [non-Roman Catholic] communities. In this way, it aims at preparing the way for their unity of faith in the bosom of a Church one and visible.”
25. Walsh, 3-10.
26. Thomas L. Sheridan, Newman on Justification, (Alba House, 1967), 108.
27. Lectures on Justification, 81.
28. For example, the Apostle Paul teaches the concept of imputation eleven times in Romans 4 alone.
29. For example, they deny the teachings concerning Transubstantiation (Article 28), sacrifice of the Mass (Article 31), both bread and wine should be served to all in the Lord’s Supper (Article 30) and that ministers may marry (Article 32).
30. http://anglicanhistory.org/tracts/tract90/conclusion.html 1/16/2010.
31. For a detailed record of this plan and its outworking in the nineteenth century, see Walsh’s, The Secret History of the Oxford Movement.