Descent into Apostasy (Part 3)
Increasing Favor Toward Catholicism
As most readers know, the Protestant Reformation was led mostly by people who were once Roman Catholics themselves; however, when they discovered the Scriptures, they were compelled to do what they could to share the Scriptures with others and to protest the spiritual deceptions that were pawned off on the people. For a time, many of the reformers looked for the day when the reforms they advocated would be adopted by Rome, but that day never came. Instead, millions who cherished the Scriptures and accepted the reformers’ faith were persecuted and put to death.
It became clear that Rome would not change, that there would be no harmony between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism—unless Protestants changed.
Romanism is now regarded by Protestants with far greater favor than in former years. In those countries where Catholicism is not in the ascendancy, and the papists are taking a conciliatory course in order to gain influence, there is an increasing indifference concerning the doctrines that separate the reformed churches from the papal hierarchy; the opinion is gaining ground that, after all, we do not differ so widely upon vital points as has been supposed, and that a little concession on our part will bring us into a better understanding with Rome. The time was when Protestants placed a high value upon the liberty of conscience which had been so dearly purchased. They taught their children to abhor popery and held that to seek harmony with Rome would be disloyalty to God. But how widely different are the sentiments now expressed!
The defenders of the papacy declare that the church has been maligned, and the Protestant world are inclined to accept the statement. Many urge that it is unjust to judge the church of today by the abominations and absurdities that marked her reign during the centuries of ignorance and darkness. They excuse her horrible cruelty as the result of the barbarism of the times and plead that the influence of modern civilization has changed her sentiments.
The Great Controversy, p. 563
The Roman Church now presents a fair front to the world, covering with apologies her record of horrible cruelties. She has clothed herself in Christlike garments; but she is unchanged. Every principle of the papacy that existed in past ages exists today. The doctrines devised in the darkest ages are still held. Let none deceive themselves. The papacy that Protestants are now so ready to honor is the same that ruled the world in the days of the Reformation, when men of God stood up, at the peril of their lives, to expose her iniquity. She possesses the same pride and arrogant assumption that lorded it over kings and princes, and claimed the prerogatives of God. Her spirit is no less cruel and despotic now than when she crushed out human liberty and slew the saints of the Most High. . . .
It is not without reason that the claim has been put forth in Protestant countries that Catholicism differs less widely from Protestantism than in former times. There has been a change; but the change is not in the papacy. Catholicism indeed resembles much of the Protestantism that now exists, because Protestantism has so greatly degenerated since the days of the Reformers.
As the Protestant churches have been seeking the favor of the world, false charity has blinded their eyes. . . . Instead of standing in defense of the faith once delivered to the saints, they are now, as it were, apologizing to Rome for their uncharitable opinion of her, begging pardon for their bigotry.
The Great Controversy, pp. 571-572
This favorable attitude toward Catholicism includes the almost universal acceptance of the papal Sabbath.