As we enter the 11th century, we still are in what is referred to as "The Dark Ages." The papacy was yielding in wicked influence, and the spiritually blindness of Europe was life draining. But, as we have studied, the light of the Gospel and Truth still shone in the midst of such darkness. The beam of Truth was, at this time, centered around three groups and their leaders. These three lights shined bright in the midst of a very dark time.
These three lights were Peter De Bruys and the Petrobrussians, Henry of Lausanne and the Henricians, and Peter Waldo and the Waldenses. Due to the fact that the majority of our research can only be accomplished by reading the works of those who were opposed to these groups and saw them as 'heretics;' our knowledge of them is limited. What we find, though, is that these groups stood for truth in a very dark period of history, and they suffered for it.
The first light we will examine is Peter de Bruys. Peter de Bruys studied at the University of Paris and many agree was at first the priest of Toulouse. After his conversion, he joined with the Albigenses and soon became one of their chief preachers of Truth. The Albignses were named for their town of origin, Albi, which was 70 kilometers NE of Toulouse. Their faith was originated from the Paulicians who had sent missionaries all across western Europe. They believed in the local church, believers baptism, and sole Authority of Scriptures. Peter de Bruys began to preach in southern France. His preaching ran contrary to the church of Rome. One contemporary opponent of Peter de Bruys listed these five "heresies" of Peter de Bruys:
1. Infant Baptism was rejected and only believers were to be baptized. In addition, all who joined with them from the church of Rome were to be re-baptized.
2. Consecrated church buildings and altars were useless.
3. Idolatry and images of the cross were to be rejected.
4. Transubstantiation was error.
5. Prayers, alms, and good works for the dead were useless.
I say "AMEN" to those 'heresies!'
Peter de Bruys demanded that the sole Authority for every believer was the Word of God. All catholic doctrines that were contrary to Scripture were taught and preached to be lies. Peter continued to preach in southern France these Truths for 20 years, and for it was arrested in 1126 A.D. There, at St. Gilles, he was burnt to death. By the time of his death, Catholic historian Peter the Venerable writes:
The people are re baptized, the churches profaned, altars dug up, crosses burned, flesh eaten in public on the very day of the Lord's passion (Good Friday), and He preaches 'the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.'Thank the Lord for his light and the light of his followers, the Petrobrussians.
The second light shining was that of Henry of Lausanne and his followers the Henricians. Henry was a successor of Peter de Bruys. He was at first a catholic by faith, even more, a Benedictine monk at near Lyons, France. From studying Scriptures, Henry came to the Truth. He began preaching and was truly gifted in doing such. He went to Lausanne, in Switzerland about the year 1116 and preached against the viles and wickedness of the Catholic clergy and laymen. Truth led him to Southern France where he joined with the Albignses.
Henry preached hard on morals and salvation's truth. Great numbers were saved. At Mans, the bishop was away at Rome, and Henry asked permission to stand in for him. Henry was granted permission and began to preach Truth to this catholic congregation. J.M. Cramp, in his book Baptist History writes:
At Mans, where, while the bishop was absent at Rome, he was permitted to occupy the cathedral, his influence over the people became so powerful that when the bishop returned, they refused to receive him, and declared that they would adhere to Henry.Henry refused taking this 'church' rather choosing to continue preaching Truth and baptizing believers forming what he called "apostolical societies" (which we would call churches).
The church at Rome sensed the influence Henry was wielding and the Council of Pisa in 1134 condemned him. Henry was arrested and sentenced to a monastery to 'reform' him back to his days of being a monk. Soon, he was released, but no different. He preached for 10 more years near Albi and Cramp says, "astonishing results followed. Multitudes were added to the churches, and , as in the times of the apostles, 'a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.'"
The pope was notified of this 'heretic' and Cardinal Alberic was sent to handle Henry. The Cardinal and a 'Bible' scholar Bernard, was sent to preach their lies and correct Henry's influence. The followers of Henry, the Henricians, knew Scriptures too well and the Cardinal and Bernard had little success.
Henry was then arrested and placed in prison. Henry was starved to death sitting in a prison cell. Bernard would go on to say
the Albigenses were called Henricians, from this person. They boast that they are the true successors of the apostles, and the faithful preservers and followers of their doctrines: they are simple men, yet clergy, bishops, and princes condescend to favor them.Thank the Lord for the light shone by Henry and the Henricians!
The third light was that of Peter Waldo and the Waldenses. Though Peter Waldo was a great preacher of the Waldenses (1200 A.D.), the Waldenses did not originate with him. As we have previously pointed out, the Donatists and Novatians were condemned as heretics around the year 400 and were forced to flee. They were persecuted, possessions taken, many martyred, and all forced to flee. They would settle in the valleys of Piedmont near France and Switzerland. There they would discreetly preach and live the Truth of God's Word. Because of dwelling in the valleys (Italian word 'Valdesi'; French Word 'Vaudoius'), they became known as the Valdenses-now Waldenses. For over 500 years, all those who sought a 'safe' place to worship and grow in Truth went and joined with those Bible believers in the valleys.
Around 1200, a great revival of these people took place under the leadership of Peter Waldo. Waldo was a very wealthy merchant of the Catholic faith living near Lyon. Waldo was led to Christ while living there and began to study God's Word for himself. He even hired 2 priests to translate the Bible into his tongue. Soon, Waldo, with a desire to honor the Lord and preach the Gospel and Truth, sold all his possessions and went about preaching Truth. He and his followers loved the Word of God and held it as Absolute Authority. They memorized large portions of Scripture and began to expose the lies of Catholicism. For 35 years he and his followers preached the Truth. Each of his followers carried small Bibles under their cloaks, ready to preach Truth.
The Waldenses held and preached the Scriptures as Truth in a time when the Catholic church forbade laymen to have it. They rejected the Catholic claim that they were the 'true church'. Baptism was preached as being for believers only. They rejected purgatory, preaching the Truth about salvation. They exposed the fallacies of Mary worship, indulgences, relics, and such.
One of the greatest works of the Waldenses is in their preservation of Scripture. From the very beginning, this group were used of God to preserve Scripture. Their Italic Bible was compiled in 157 A.D. translated from the pure text. They protected and translated the True Word of God into the 14th and 15th centuries. Their translations such as Olivetan Bible was used in the translation of the English Geneva Bible which was replaced by the AV1611. They translated the pure Scripture into other languages as well: Diodati in Italian; Olivetan in French; Genevan in English. It is thought that there were at least 6 Waldenses Bibles for 6 different languages. Even the Jesuits in the 15th century used Jerome's corrupt Vulgate and translated it into Latin to "shake out of the deceived peoples' hands, the false heretical translations of a sect called Waldenses." I say praise the Lord for the Waldenses!
How they suffered for their faith! 1380 Clement VII sent a monk into the valleys to root out the heretics. Over the next 13 years, hundreds were burned at the stake.
1488 Pope Innocent VIII ordered an army of 18,000 men to exterminate them. Yet, the light still shown.
It saddens me to write that after the reformation, the Waldenses would join with the Protestants and today's Waldenses are an ecumenical, modernistic, social Gospel organization. Even their own people do not know their heritage and today are far from what they were. For more information on such and to see just how far the Waldenses have fallen into apostasy, visit here:
Though Satan sought to blind the eyes of the world to the Gospel, the Truth went on just as the Lord promised. There were men, and groups of believers, who decided they would stand in the face of error and apostasy and suffer the consequences thereof. There were those who were willing to part with all they had to see that the Gospel and Truth was preserved. There were churches who saw to it that they helped to preserve God's Word and truly served as the "Pillar and Ground of Truth." There was, as a common denominator, a reliance on an Absolute Authority-God's Holy Word. This they studied, meditated on, memorized great portions, and shared with all they could. What we need today is much the same. May we too shine in this dark world, the light of God's Truth!