The People’s Pope

The visit by Pope Francis to the U.S. was a major event in current history and in the Pope_Francis_Wikipedia_Commonsunfolding of the End Times scenario.

He was seen, heard, and honored by the President and Congress of our nation, by the United Nations, and by a spell-bound media, which broadcast his every move to the whole earth, reaching nearly two billion people!

Perhaps coincidentally, on his departure from our shores nearly the whole world was able to view what might be the most spectacular blood moon of our generation.

So, who is this phenomenal Pope? Shortly after he was chosen to be Pope, he was named as Time’s Person of the Year and Twitter’s #bestpopeever.

Here is a summary of evidence about who Pope Francis really is. For documentation and more detail, visit the links at the end of this article.

At this point I need to explain that I am not anti-Catholic. Catholic means “universal,” and for the first few centuries after Christ there was only one main “trunk” for the family tree of Christianity. It was just “The Church.” From that point of view, all of our denominations had their origins in this same universal church.

As time went on, there were many corruptions of the belief and practices in the Church. These eventually led to a series of “branches” from the main trunk. The two main departures were the Eastern Orthodox Church, and later, the Protestant Reformation.

I am also not anti-Catholic because of my personal experience with Catholic people. In my first pastorate in East Los Angeles, most of the people I met in the community were Catholics. I was eager to share the Gospel with them, and they were surprisingly open to listening! We used the “Four Spiritual Laws” in those days, and because we were quoting God’s Word, there was almost always a willingness to hear and trust the Bible. Many of them had never heard the simple Gospel message, but they were open to it. They might not have known what was in the Bible, but they had a reverence for it. Over the years I have become close friends with numerous Catholics, including some priests, who are dedicated followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. In our church home in Alta Loma the highest percentage of converts from other faiths has come from the Catholic Church.

It is right, however, to oppose teaching that can be shown to be unbiblical, whether it is in the Catholic Church or any other denomination. From that point of view there are many serious problems in Catholic history, theology, and current directions.

But what about Pope Francis himself? Why is he so popular? And what role might he play in the fulfillment of prophecy?

He is “The People’s Pope.”

The most obvious reason for Pope Francis’ amazing popularity is his life-long commitment to human rights and care for the poor and downtrodden of the world. He immediately refused to live the luxurious life-style of earlier Popes, and constantly goes out of his way to visit the less-fortunate. When he was in Washington D.C., he shunned dinner with lawmakers and chose to eat with the homeless, the mentally ill and immigrants. He took time out of an incredible schedule to visit inmates in prison.

There are endless illustrations about his refreshing life-style. He is, in short, a heroic role model for the whole world.

However, to see the big picture, we must consider many other aspects of Pope Francis’ beliefs and actions.

He is a Socialist.

It is just a fact that Pope Francis subscribes to Socialism. His whole history illustrates his disdain for capitalism and the privilege of the wealthy in an overwhelmingly-poor world.

He signaled his socialistic beliefs by first visiting Cuba, before coming to the United States.

Socialism does not mix well with democracy because it generally requires dictatorial leadership to enforce it. It does, however—in theory– appeal to the masses, who cannot be blamed for wanting a share of the “good life” that the rich enjoy.

He is Morally More Liberal than His Predecessors.

Many commentators lamented the fact that the Pope missed the opportunity to stand against growing immorality in the United States. While the Catholic Church is still firmly behind traditional marriage, he wasted the opportunity to rebuke the audience that included the Supreme Court for rejecting God’s standards and redefining marriage.

Two years ago Pope Francis had set the stage for this failure. When he was asked about gays in the church, he said “Who am I to judge?” Some observers think that those five little words could change the course of the Catholic Church.

He has made progress in the decades-long scandal of child molestation by American Catholic clergy. He acknowledged the problem when he addressed U.S. bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. However, he seemed to comfort the bishops more than he did the sex abuse survivors. He extolled the bishops “courage” and “self-criticism.

Even in the matter of abortion, he is opposed, but not sufficiently outraged to voice his condemnation of Planned Parenthood’s horrific practices of selling body parts of aborted babies.

He is an Ecumenist – Thus, NOT an Evangelist

Instead of proclaiming the unique soul-saving message of Christianity, Pope Francis told the crowd on the South Lawn of the White House that the names “Jesus Christ, Jehovah and Allah” all describe the same entity. He also said that the Koran is just as valid as the Bible. He expressed hope that we can all respect each other’s beliefs in order to bring about an unprecedented age of peace. He said, “We can accomplish miraculous things in the world by merging our faiths, and the time for such a movement is now. No longer shall we slaughter our neighbors over differences in reference to their God.”

During his visit to the U.S., with unprecedented media attention beaming his every word to nearly two billion people worldwide, he missed the opportunity to call sinners to repentance and personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He could have invited people to be born again, but that would be counter-productive to his agenda of merging world religions.

He wants a One-World Government

In June Pope Francis issued a papal encyclical proposing a new global political authority that would find a way to reduce pollution and develop poor countries and regions. This was not surprising since previous popes, including his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, advocated a world government to deal with economic problems and injustices.

He is the First-ever Jesuit Pope

Most Christians have heard of the Jesuits but don’t know much about them. This is especially interesting in the light of the fact that they are now the largest order in the Catholic Church, and Pope Francis, who was recently enthroned as Pope is the first Jesuit ever to become Pope.

Their story began with the dramatic life of Ignatius of Loyola (1491 to 1556), an aristocratic young man who became a Spanish knight, but was seriously wounded in the Battle of Pamplona in 1521 when he was struck by a cannonball. The injury left him partially disabled, but during his long recovery he devoted himself to serve God with a zeal that was equal to his former military discipline. He had spiritual visions and developed an intense devotional life, from which he conceived and published “Spiritual Exercises” that would eventually be required of all who would follow him.

Ignatius travelled to the Holy Land, and some believe he received secret information about the practices of the Knights Templar, which had been disbanded in 1312.

He studied theology during the early days of the Spanish Inquisition and the Protestant Reformation. He became a priest, and then, with a few disciplined followers, including Francis Xavier, who would become a missionary the to the Far East, formed the “Society of Jesus” in 1539. This organization was recognized by Pope Paul III in 1540 as a new Catholic order. Their purpose was to “do battle in the Lord God’s service under the banner of the Cross

Loyola was appointed the first Superior General, with dictatorial powers over the members of the order.

The emphasis of the Reformation was to return to the Bible, and to allow common people to read and study it in their own languages. This raised serious questions about all of the un-biblical concepts that had been adopted by the Catholic Church during the thousand-plus years of the Middle Ages. From the beginning, the Society of Jesus, which began to be called “Jesuits,” sought to counter biblical truth with other kinds of knowledge. They became the champions of science and education. Their members, who were actually monks, were encouraged to wear normal clothing and assume positions in all areas of influence. In essence, they became undercover agents for the Catholic Church to discredit Protestants and bring them back into the fold of the Catholic Church.

The statue of Ignatius of Loyola in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome portrays him stepping on the neck of a Protestant (presumably Martin Luther).

By the 1700’s Jesuits were viewed as foreign agents in some countries. They were banned in France and Spain, and then, in 1773, Pope Clement XIV dissolved the order. They were restored however in 1814,.

They have now grown from a small band of dedicated soldiers to the largest men’s single religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church with approximately 18,000 members world-wide. They are constantly infiltrating governments, businesses, the arts, and especially education. There are now 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States and some 189 Jesuit institutions of higher learning worldwide! Their students are not taught to know and revere the Bible, which would advance the Protestant agenda, but to trust humanism, psychology, and philosophy instead.

He is Anti-Israel

In May a treaty to recognize the “State of Palestine” was finalized in Rome. Jerusalem Post commentator Michael Freund said this is “the latest salvo in its 2,000-year-old struggle to disenfranchise the Jewish people.”

Freund said that the Vatican is effectively seeking to deny the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people, to whom this land was promised long ago. He wonders what Bible the Vatican is reading.

He could be “The Last Pope.”

Much has been written in recent years about the possibility that Francis could be the “last Pope” in St. Malachy’s list going back hundreds of years.

St. Malachy was an Irish Catholic bishop in the 12th century. According to his biographer, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, (Life of Saint Malachy) the bishop was known to have the gift of prophecy and even predicted the exact day and hour of his own death. He was canonized in 1190 by Pope Clement III.

St. Malachy was visiting Rome in 1139 when he went into a trance and received a vision. Malachy wrote down this extraordinary vision in which he claims to have foreseen all of the popes from the death of Innocent II until the destruction of the church and the return of Christ. He named exactly 112 popes from that time until the end.

St. Malachy wrote a few prophetically descriptive words in Latin about each one of the popes. He then gave the manuscript to Pope Innocent II and it was deposited in the Vatican Archives where it was forgotten for several centuries. Then in 1590, it was rediscovered and published.

The interesting thing is that scholars have matched the 112 brief descriptive predictions with each of the 112 popes and anti-popes that there have been since Innocent II. Though they are a bit obscure, they have fit the general profile of each of the popes.

This is the translation of the description of the final Pope in the list:

“In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit Peter the Roman, who will nourish the sheep in many tribulations; when they are all finished, the City of Seven Hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The End.”

Extra-biblical prophecies do not have the same weight that Bible prophecies do, but this whole story is at the least, very interesting!

He is a Foreshadowing of the False Prophet.

We must be very clear here: we are NOT saying that Pope Francis is the False Prophet predicted in Revelation Chapter 13, but his popularity and his agenda are like those that the eventual False Prophet will have.

During the Reformation many Protestant leaders thought that the Pope of their day was Antichrist. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 indicates that Antichrist (and the False Prophet) will not be identified until the Tribulation period.

However, the popularity of this Pope Illustrates how the world could be lured into adopting a universal religion that has great influence over the government.

Stay tuned. This is just the beginning of a fascinating story!


Our Website: Prophecy Central

News summaries of Pope Francis’ US Visit 2015

Topical Section on Religions/ One-World Religion

Our book: The Church in History and Prophecy: Commentary on Revelation – Chapters 1-3

Our online commentary: Rejoicing in Revelation,

The Roman Empire and The First Official Pope (Revelation 2:14-15)

Jesuits and the Counter-Reformation (Revelation 3:1)

Our Blogs:

Review of Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope is Here

What if the Next Pope is the Last One?

Posted in Church History, Eschatology, Evangelism, New World Order, Peace, Religions, Revelation, The Church in Prophecy and History | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Look Up: Your Redemption Draws Near!

gloriousday-s “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” – Luke 21:25-28

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown today! It is also known as the Feast of Trumpets, and for many years I have encouraged our readers to observe it as a reminder that every so often we should have a “Rapture Drill.”

During World War II, and even later—the Cold War era—children in schools would practice a sudden “bomb drill.” An alarm would sound and everyone would quickly get under his or her desk. We also had “earthquake drills,” where we would follow a set plan of evacuating the building and going to a safe place outside for a few minutes.

The purpose of these drills was not to terrify the kids, but to help them be prepared in case the dreaded event would occur.

Any time now we can expect the Rapture (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; I Corinthians 15:50-55; Revelation 4:1, etc.) when Jesus returns for born-again believers of the Church Age, and after that there will be seven years of tribulation.

Jesus said we can’t know the date of the Rapture (Matthew 24:42-44, Matthew 25:13). Therefore, we should always be ready for that great day: living a faithful, godly life, sharing the Gospel with our family and friends, and doing whatever we would like to be doing if we knew He was returning today.

Recently I had a conversation with someone who goes to a very exciting revival-oriented church. I asked her, “What does your church teach about the End Times?” Inwardly I cringed when she said, “I don’t think they deal with it.” She added, “I don’t like to think about prophecy because it is scary.”

At that point, her friend, who is more involved in the inner-workings of the church, said, “Our leadership does believe in prophecy.” I was relieved, because so many churches are deliberately ignoring more than one-fourth of the Bible that is dedicated to prophecy.

This was an aha moment for me. I am starting work on our annual “Year in Review” report. It is a summary of events from the past year that relate to Bible prophecy, and it has grown in size over the years. For the past 3 years it has been book-length, and we have released it in printed and digital book formats. Last year’s book was called “Red Skies,” and I have been thinking of calling this year’s book “Superstorm” because of the amazing build-up of destructive world conditions that Jesus, the Prophets and the Apostles predicted for the End Times. I am more inclined now to call it “Glorious Day,” emphasizing the return of Christ for His Church, and His later return as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:11-16). This week I took a beautiful picture of a “Golden Sky” after a day of flash floods.

The primary message of the Church should be the Gospel—the Good News of salvation and hope. But the leadership of the church—the pastors, teachers, worship leaders and core members should realize that world conditions line up with End Times prophecy as never before. Perhaps this sense of urgency will lead to greater prayer and stronger evangelism.

Will there be a revival before the Rapture? We know that there will be a great revival during the Tribulation, when people from every tribe and nation will turn to Christ (Revelation 7). It just seems that God would send one more spiritual harvest before Christ returns for His Church. God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), and too many of our young people have never really heard the Gospel. During this past year there have been many encouragements that could lead to a God-given awakening once again. There have been great Christian movies like “God’s Not Dead” and “War Room”- with its emphasis on prayer. We have born-again candidates running for the presidency, and an unprecedented turning of Muslims to Christ in many places.

As part of this year’s “Rapture Drill,” let’s establish our own prayer “War Room,” and increase our commitment to evangelism!

Posted in Church, Eschatology, Evangelism, Prayer, Rapture, Revelation, Revival, Youth | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Please, Mr. President!

An open letter to President Obama

It is with a mixture of the greatest respect for the office you hold, and a profound disappointment with some of the decisions you have made, that I must plead for you to face the realities of the course you are taking with Iran, the self-proclaimed enemy of the United States and Israel.

I don’t have any illusions that you will actually read this letter, but I hope that if you did, I would have the courage to stand face to face with you—for the sake of my own children and grandchildren, and for the multitude of others who love our country and God’s Chosen People in Israel.

As President of the United States, you are the most powerful person in the world. But there are untold millions of people who follow the most Powerful Person in the Universe: Jesus Christ. We are not afraid that Christianity will fail, because Jesus promised, “I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) However, we do fear for the future of our country, which was founded on Christian principles. God’s blessing of nations is based on the Abrahamic Covenant.

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. – Genesis 12:3

Most Americans still believe that God has blessed America. But if we turn our back on Israel, which was miraculously reborn in 1948 in fulfillment of prophecy (Ezekiel 36 and 37), we know we cannot expect the continued divine assistance and protection that we have enjoyed for so long.

World War II could have been avoided if Great Britain’s Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, had not made a deal in 1938 with Hitler, called the Munich Agreement. He thought that he had defused the problem, but it only allowed Hitler to continue his preparations for a war that cost more than 50 million lives.

Many prominent observers of today’s dangerous world are warning you that this deal with Iran will lead to a nuclear holocaust—the very thing you are trying to avoid. Numerous military experts oppose this agreement, and it is almost certain that Congress, including many Democrats, will vote their disapproval of the plan. But you have already said you will veto any such congressional action.

It is my earnest prayer that you will reconsider your position, and that your real legacy will be your courage in stopping the aggression of our greatest enemy.

Posted in Iran, Israel, Peace, Wars | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ruin or Revival?

The Supreme Court’s decision to force acceptance of same-sex marriage in all 50 states came like a major earthquake—not really unexpected, but dreaded and destructive. It ignored our nation’s spiritual and historical roots, and overturned the will of millions of Americans who had gone to the polls in their own states to maintain the biblical standard that marriage is between one man and one woman.

The decision exposed a shocking split within the Supreme Court. The four dissenting justices sounded the alarm that just five Supreme Court justices now comprise a dictatorship over the country, legislating instead of judging issues properly.

My own reaction to the decision?  Not Surprised/ Saddened/ Still Hopeful.

Remember that the First-century Christians faced the worst kinds of obstacles, but Jesus built His church through them. He had promised it would succeed.

On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. – Matthew 16:15

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

End-times Bible teachers expect things to get worse, but we need to balance this reality with a focus on God’s love and power.

Since my retirement, after 50 years as a pastor, I have been able to devote much of my time to writing.  In the study of Revelation, we notice a frequent switching of the scene to Heaven to remind us that God is good, that He is in control, and that, in the end, His righteous plan will prevail.

There have been major spiritual battles during each period of Church History. Through all of its struggles, the Church has survived, just as Jesus promised.

Here is the question of the hour for Bible-believing Christians:

Will this development lead to Ruin or Revival?

This event may be our best opportunity to repent of our drift from the Bible. We failed to experience a lasting return to biblical faith after the 911 attacks. Perhaps this is the wake-up call we need!

 In the Bible, The Lord always gave believers an opportunity to repent, and he often allowed the worst of pagans the opportunity to believe in Him.

He gave opportunity to Noah’s family, Lot’s family, and the believers in Jericho and Nineveh to repent and be spared. Why wouldn’t He do the same for the young people of our generation who have never really understood the Gospel?

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9

Please follow these links to information in Prophecy Central about this issue. We have included the chapter about Revival from our most recent book, Red Skies.


Reaction to Supreme Court Decision

“Revival” – Chapter 5 of Red Skies

The Bible and Homosexuality: The Need for Love and Compassion

“Rejoicing in Revelation” Online Commentary

Our Books

Posted in Apostasy, Bible, Church History, Commentary, Red Skies, Revival, The Church in Prophecy and History | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

You Are Invited! Six-Week Bible Study on the Revelation

2015-0603 fafsI will be teaching a Bible-study series on the Book of Revelation, starting this Wednesday, June 3,  at Florence Avenue Foursquare Church in Santa Fe Springs.  This great church has an impressive history and a powerful presence in our own urgent times.

The church’s pastor, Rev. Terry Risser, recently invited me to speak to their great congregation, and have now extended the opportunity to give an overview of the entire most-instructive book in the Bible about prophecy.

The sessions begin at 7 pm in the church’s Gym. Time will be allotted for some questions and answers.

The church is centrally located near the I-5 and I-605 freeways.

We would love to have you join us for this informative series.  Get directions to the church at

Posted in Church, Church History, Commentary, Eschatology, Fearful Events, Gog and Magog, Heaven, Hell, Islam, Israel, Mark of the Beast, Middle East War, Missions, New World Order, Persecution, Plagues, Red Skies, Revelation, Revival, The Church in Prophecy and History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Speaking Schedule: “Jesus Explains the Future”


I have had the privilege of speaking in various Southern California churches recently, using material from the new book, Red Skies: Bible Prophecy and World Events.  We invite you to join us at one of the churches where we will be speaking the next two weeks. Both of them are wonderful, Bible-believing congregations. One is in Orange County and the other is in Los Angeles County. Visitors are very welcome in both of them. Please check their websites for service times.


April 26, 2015

The Village Church

Laguna Hills

May 3, 2015

Florence Avenue Foursquare Church

Santa Fe Springs

For more information about Red Skies, or our other books, go to:

Posted in Antichrist, Beast, Bible, Church, Commentary, Eschatology, Evangelism, Fearful Events, Gog and Magog, Islam, Mark of the Beast, New World Order, Plagues, Red Skies, Revelation, Revival, Speaking | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our New Book – Red Skies

redskies-mWe have just published our latest book, Red Skies: Bible Prophecy and World Events. It is a new kind of book—the outgrowth of our yearly summary of recent prophetic developments. It combines basic teaching about Bible prophecy with some of the most significant current headlines.

Red Skies explains how biblical predictions make sense of the current overwhelming problems that threaten our tumultuous world.

Jesus noticed that the religious leaders of His day could forecast the weather when they saw red skies, but they were not aware of the major prophecies that were being fulfilled by His life and ministry. He taught His disciples what will happen on earth just before He comes again.

Red Skies: Bible Prophecy and World Events ($11.99, paperback, 978-1505376074) gives a chronological list of things to come–based on Jesus’ own four-part outline of the future. It includes major developments of our generation, giving insight to such issues as the growing struggle between Islam and the Western world, animosity toward Israel, and the persecution of Christians. Each aspect is illustrated by summaries of recent world events.

It explores prophecies about End Times events, including the declining influence of the Church, financial malaise, weak governments and the lack of respect for them, the accelerating threat of major wars, natural disasters, terrifying diseases like Ebola, and much more.

Red Skies examines the need for a new revival of Christian belief and zeal, and it lists some of the signs that this new great awakening could occur.

The book explains the “Rapture,” which will transport true believers in Christ into His presence. It then describes the major aspects of the seven-year Tribulation, when a powerful and charismatic leader will appear. Unfortunately, once he has gained power, he will establish the final evil empire, supported by a coalition of world religions. He will impose an economic dictatorship and, using advanced technology, require everyone to receive the “mark of the beast” in order to buy or sell anything. Finally, at the Campaign of Armageddon, Christ will return to earth to establish His righteous kingdom.

We are hopeful that many of our friends will buy the book (paperback or Kindle), and then record their reviews on Amazon to encourage other people to read it.

Visit the product page for Red Skies.

Posted in Antichrist, Beast, Bible, Commentary, Eschatology, Evangelism, Fearful Events, Heaven, Islam, Israel, Mark of the Beast, Plagues, Prayer, Rapture, Red Skies, Religions, Revelation, Revival, Technology, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Decision Time for the Church about the LGBT Controversy

It is time for the Church to either stand with the Word of God or be swept along by the flow of apostate culture. Pastors and theologians are finding it necessary to make a choice on the issue of gay marriage.

On one side of the debate, Rob Bell, a supposedly evangelical pastor who decided a few years ago that hell is not real, appeared recently on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday show to proclaim that the American Church is just “moments away” from supporting “gay marriage.” He said that the transformation is “inevitable.”

Bell made it clear that he thinks the Bible is no longer relevant. He said, “I think culture is already there and the Church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense.” (Rob Bell stands with Oprah: Rewrites Bible on marriage – OneNewsNow)

On the other side of the issue, Kevin Mannoia, Chairman of the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium, recently presented a position paper at a major gathering of pastors, titled “Gracefully Engaging the LGBT Conversation.” It is a scholarly, loving approach to the subject. It affirms the priority of the Bible and its clear teaching about homosexuality. The document affirms that homosexual behavior is a sin, and like all other sins, it leads to brokenness. Salvation and restoration is available to all through Jesus Christ. Mannoia wrote:

“We celebrate the humble appropriation of God’s grace to a broken condition such that God’s image is being restored – albeit with the sure moments of failure and stumbling, but with evidence that it is truly by God’s grace that we are made whole, not by redefining wholeness.”

Unfortunately there are many Christian pastors and leaders who do not have the courage to take a stand. As with other controversial issues of the day, they are strangely silent. It is time for all of us who are Christian teachers to share what God’s Word has to say about this matter in a loving, Christ-like way.

See also: Homosexuality and the Bible

Posted in Apologetics, Apostasy, Church, Hell | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Islamic Terrorism Should Not Be Compared To The Crusades

churchinprophecyAt the National Prayer Breakfast President Obama acknowledged that the current tide of extremism was being done in the name of religion. Then he said,

“And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

He also said that in our own country, slavery and Jim Crow was often justified in the name of Christ. (The Blaze)

However, the Crusades were an attempt to regain possession of the Holy Land which had been brutally conquered by Muslim invaders, along with most of the rest of the Middle East. And the Inquisitions, which were admittedly totally wrong, were conducted by the Catholic Church when they were at their lowest ebb spiritually. Their practices during this phase of history were not compatible with the biblical view of Christianity, and they led to the Reformation–a return to true Christian faith.

To help us understand this issue, here is an excerpt from our book The Church in Prophecy and History: Revelation Commentary – Chapters 1 – 3 , pp.. 149-153.

The Crusades

The history of the church during the next several centuries revolved around a series of holy wars, known as the Crusades. The major crusades, from AD 1096 to 1291 were a response to the Muslim conquests, and especially to their occupation of Jerusalem, persecution of Christian pilgrims, and destruction of Christian holy sites. The papacy was strong at that time, after a period of reforms, and it convinced European governments to send their knights and all who would volunteer to fight to regain Jerusalem. The name “crusade” was derived from the red cloth crux (Latin for “cross”) given to the volunteers by the Pope or one of his representatives.

Of the first eight or nine major crusades, only the first was successful in capturing Jerusalem, and that victory was short-lived. There is no general agreement by historians and theologians that the Crusades were either morally good or bad, or more importantly, whether or not they were the will of God. In fairness, the editor of Christianity Today wrote:

But the crusaders were real Christians. They deplored their sins. They longed for forgiveness. They loved fellow Christians in the East. They yearned to do something noble and lasting for their Lord. They prayed and fasted before battles and praised God after victories. Their devotion and courage make ours look juvenile.[i]

On the “good” side of the question, it did seem right to most Christians to deliver Jerusalem from the Muslims, and to stop their rapid conquest of Christian territories. There was also extensive Old Testament precedent for defending oneself and for fighting against evil powers if directed by God. On the last evening with His disciples, Jesus did tell them to purchase a sword (Luke 22:36), however, it wasn’t His will for Peter to use the sword when Jesus was surrendering Himself for His sacrificial death (Luke 22:49-51; John 18:10-11).

On the “bad” side of the crusade issue, nothing Jesus taught could validate the use of force to establish the Kingdom of Heaven. He said, if His kingdom was of this world, then His servants would fight (John 18:36). But His kingdom will not be established on earth until He returns as King of Kings, and when that happens He will do all the necessary fighting (Rev. 19:11-16; 20:1-6).

Some might doubt that God was directing the crusades since only the first one was successful, and the victory only lasted for a short time. On the other hand, it can be argued that they stemmed the tide of Islamic conquests, which otherwise might have overrun all of Europe.

There were great mistakes made during the crusades, and unholy actions that have been used to discredit Christianity. Some examples of this were the unnecessary killing of Muslim civilians, the slaughter of Jews in many places, and the growth of a culture of literally hundreds of “holy wars” for some 700 years.

The Knights Templar grew out of the Crusades. They were originally a brave and skillful asset to the wars, but with the passing of time, they developed the prototype of the modern banking system and became what some have called the “first multinational corporation.” Their secret initiations made them suspect to church and government powers. In 1312 they were disbanded after many of their members were accused, perhaps falsely, of secrecy, apostasy, heresy, and many other charges, but since torture was used to extract their confessions, it has always been unknown whether or not the charges were true. Freemasonry adopted the titles, symbols and rituals of the Knights Templar in the 18th Century.

On the other hand, the Crusades helped St. Thomas Aquinas develop the “Just War” theory in his Summa Theologica to answer the question of when it is right to respond defensively.

The Inquisition

Now we must consider the Inquisition–a series of religious trials that were conducted over the course of hundreds of years to determine the guilt or innocence of people suspected to be heretics. Heretics are people whose beliefs differ from approved teaching of the church. The word “heretic” comes from the Greek hairesis (“faction” “sect,” “division”). It is found in various forms in the New Testament 139 times. Here are two examples:

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. – 2 Peter 2:1

Reject a divisive man [heretic] after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.– Titus 3:10-11

In fact, even from the time of the Apostolic Church, heresies had been identified and dealt with, but the punishment was simply excommunication from the church, certainly not imprisonment or death (Matthew 13:24-30; Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 51-8; Galatians 1:6-9; 1 Timothy 1:20; Titus 3:10; ). When the Samaritans rebuffed the disciples, they asked Jesus,

“Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village. – Luke 9:54-56

As the church/state system progressed, there was no acceptable way for people to disagree with the teaching of the church. Some of the suspected heretics held strange, unbiblical ideas, but others, like the Reformers, were trying to be more biblical in their teaching. In either case the dissidents were questioned, tried, and, if found guilty according to the interpretations of the church at that time, punished. The church would pass judgment, but if the accused did not repent, the state would administer the temporal punishment. This was usually burning at the stake.

The Council of Toulouse in 1229 established a special ecclesiastical court called the Inquisition (from the Latin inquisitio, meaning “inquiry”). There had been such trials, going back to 1163 or earlier, against the Albigenses (also-called Cathari, from the Greek katharos, “pure”). The Albigenses believed in dualism, the concept that the good power created the invisible and spiritual universe, while the evil power created the material world. Those found guilty were burned at the stake.

The extent of torture and executions increased greatly during the Spanish Inquisition beginning in 1481 and lasting until 1834. Confessions were extracted by the use of torture. There were many methods for this, but three of the most frequently used were (1) suspending the suspect with a series of lifts and drops that would often dislocate their arms and legs; (2) pouring water into their mouths to give the impression of drowning, and (3) stretching them on mechanical racks.[ii]

In our commentary on the next church (Sardis), we will see that the Catholic Church also persecuted the Reformers with this system. However, the Reformers made the same terrible mistake by persecuting Catholics and members of later church factions, like the Anabaptists. We will comment on this when we consider Revelation 3:1-2.

How many were killed? Estimates vary widely depending on the perspective of the “historians” who tell the story.  Some Catholic writers say the death toll was only in the hundreds, while avowed anti-Catholics claim that millions were put to death.

In balance, we recommend the thoughts of Chris Armstrong, managing editor of Christian History Magazine in his 2008 article about “Christian Terrorism:”

Christians have far more often suffered than perpetrated terror. This does not excuse those who in the past have named Christ’s name but broken God’s Fifth Commandment. But it does put the lie to the skeptic’s image of a church characterized throughout its history by brutal oppression and violence.[iii]

[i] Mark Galli, “The Crusades: From the Editor – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, Christianity Today, 10/1/93.

[ii] Accessed April 10, 2014,

[iii] Accessed February 11, 2014,

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Obama’s Morality

I hate to say anything negative about the President of the United States. I respect the office, and have always tried to give any president the benefit of the doubt when I disagreed with him. After all, he must know much more about world affairs and politics than I do. He has the world’s hardest job. And, of course, the Bible tells me to pray for those who are in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

In President Obama’s case, I couldn’t vote for someone with socialist ideals, but I was proud of the fact that we, at last, had elected our first African-American president. At the beginning of his presidency I set up a series of webpages on Prophecy Central called “Obama Watch.” For some time we followed his progress, looking for answers for such questions as, “Is it God’s will for Barack Obama to be President?,” “What kind of appointments will he make?,” “How will he deal with terrorism?” “How will he treat Israel?” and “What effect will he have on moral issues like abortion and marriage?”

We were hopeful then, but as time went on it became clear to many of us that He is opposed to too many of our biblical values, and is not able or willing to stand strong enough against terrorism and persecution of Christians. Nor is he willing to really support the well-being of Israel.

Our nation has responded by electing a conservative Congress. Some people hope the president will be a “lame duck” for his last two years, but there is valid concern that he will just become more dictatorial than ever, and weaken the nation and the world in the process.

I just have one small voice, but I don’t want my grandchildren to look back at the ruinous events of this time in history and have to ask, “Why didn’t our grandparents speak up when it might have made a difference?”

We still maintain a topic page on President Obama and moral issues. We still pray for him, and promise to do so more diligently. Most of all, we are praying for a spiritual revival in America for the sake of our young people. Wouldn’t it be great if the President would have a change of heart, and be part of such an awakening? With God all things are possible!

Obama Watch: What effect does Barack Obama have on moral issues?


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