Tuesday, October 29, 2013

John Wesley on the Political Subversiveness of Catholicism (Relevant for the Election)

Before proceeding, let us be clear: we despise the heresy of Arminianism promoted by John Wesley (1703-1791), which has done tremendous damage to the church. Having said this, we do want to raise attention to some thought-provoking statements of his on the political detriment Roman Catholicism can have on a nation. 

Wesley does not base this on a commitment to suppressing heresies (on the contrary, he took religious toleration to an extreme). Rather, he bases this on the loyalty to the Pope required of Catholic adherents—a loyalty that can jeopardize a nation's political sovereignty. 

This line of reasoning is sound, 
especially when taking into account Catholic civil rulers. In the United States, the fear of presidents taking orders from the Vatican was a major reason why no Catholic was elected president until John F. Kennedy. Now, it is as if evangelical Christians don't seem to think twice about voting for a Catholic. 

It is true that some of the more conservative Catholics promote some important causes (however, they also, at least by example, promote the Roman Catholic heresy). But if the trend of voting for Catholics continues, we may wake up one day to find America ruled by the Pope, the promotion of the false Catholic gospel on an even greater level, and maybe even another Inquisition. When we consider that the nature of fallen man has not changed since the Reformation (indeed, it never changes outside of conversion), then even the last scenario mentioned isn't too far fetched. 

Food for thought for this year's election.

John Wesley on Tolerating Catholicism

I insist upon it, that no government not Roman Catholic ought to tolerate men of the Roman Catholic persuasion.

I prove this by a plain argument: (Let him answer it that can:)—That no Roman Catholic does, or can, give security for his allegiance or peaceable behaviour, I prove thus: It is a Roman Catholic maxim, established, not by private men, but by a public Council, that "no faith is to be kept with heretics." This has been openly avowed by the Council of Constance; but it never was openly disclaimed. Whether private persons avow or disavow it, it is a fixed maxim of the Church of Rome. But as long as it is so, nothing can be more plain, than that the members of that Church can give no reasonable security to any Government of their allegiance or peaceable behaviour. Therefore they ought not to be tolerated by any Government, Protestant, Mahometan, or Pagan.

You may say, "Nay, but they will take an oath of allegiance." True, five hundred oaths; but the maxim, "No faith is to be kept with heretics," sweeps them all away as a spider's web. So that still no Governors that are not Roman Catholics can have any security of their allegiance.

Again: Those who acknowledge the spiritual power of the Pope can give no security of their allegiance to any Government ; but all Roman Catholics acknowledge this: Therefore, they can give no security for their allegiance.

The power of granting pardons for all sins, past, present, and to come, is, and has been for many centuries, one branch of his spiritual power.

But those who acknowledge him to have this spiritual power can give no security for their allegiance; since they believe the Pope can pardon rebellions, high treason, and all other sins whatsoever.

The power of dispensing with any promise, oath, or vow, is another branch of the spiritual power of the Pope. And all who acknowledge his spiritual power must acknowledge this. But whoever acknowledges the dispensing power of the Pope can give no security for his allegiance to any Government.

Oaths and promises are none; they are light as air; a dispensation makes them all null and void. Nay, not only the Pope, but even a Priest, has power to pardon sins! This is an essential doctrine of the Church of Rome. But they that acknowledge this cannot possibly give any security for their allegiance to any Government. Oaths are no security at all; for the Priest can pardon both perjury and high treason.

Setting then religion aside, it is plain, that, upon principles of reason, no Government ought to tolerate men who cannot give any security to that Government for their allegiance and peaceable behaviour. But this no Romanist can do, not only while he holds that "no faith is to be kept with heretics;" but so long as he acknowledges either priestly absolution, or the spiritual power of the Pope.

"But the late Act," you say, "does not either tolerate or encourage Roman Catholics." I appeal to matter of fact. Do not the Romanists themselves understand it as a toleration? You know they do. And does it not already (let alone what it may do by and by) encourage them to preach openly, to build chapels, (at Bath and elsewhere,) to raise seminaries, and to make numerous converts day by day to their intolerant, persecuting principles? I can point out, if need be, several of the persons. And they are increasing daily.

But "nothing dangerous to English liberty is to be apprehended from them." I am not certain of that. Some time since, a Romish Priest came to one I knew, and, after talking with her largely, broke out, "You are no heretic; you have the experience of a real Christian!" "And would you," she asked, "burn me alive?" He said, "God forbid !—unless it were for the good of the Church!"

Now, what security could she have had for her life, if it had depended on that man? The good of the Church would have burst all the ties of truth, justice, and mercy; especially when seconded by the absolution of a Priest, or (if need were) a Papal pardon.

John Wesley, "A Letter to the Printer of the 'Public Advertiser,' Occasioned by the Late Act Passed in Favour of Popery," in The Works of the Rev. John Wesley: With the Last Corrections of the Author: Volume 10 (London: Wesleyan Conference Office, 1872), 160, 161


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