"For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her" - Revelation 18:3.


By John Ramsden. LONDON.

dultery and fornication by Princes and Princesses is hardly the stuff of normal wholesome Christian conversation, but such have been the almost theatrical confessions on television by the heirs to the British Throne that not even the most conservative of Bible students can abstain from commenting on the current affairs of the Royal couple.

Another example of ‘fornication’ of a totally different sort has involved the Queen herself, but no one likes to talk of it in those terms, even though it is scriptural to do so. We refer, of course, to the equally significant, though far less publicized attendance by Queen Elizabeth II at the centenary celebrations of London’s Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral.

Both events though unrelated in nature, will, if current trends continue, present the British people with enormous constitutional problems. These however, will come as no surprise to the student of Bible prophecy, as we shall see.

Charles and Diana

But first the Royal couple. As everybody knows, their marriage has been on the rocks for some years past. Public esteem for Britain’s future Queen had been waning steadily: that is until her celebrated TV interview; whereupon her popularity ratings in the opinion polls almost doubled overnight as she identified herself with the 35% of other UK wives alleged to admit to marital infidelity. (Today, 44% of ladies in the UK who are pregnant are not married to the father of the child—a situation so taken for granted by the man-in-the-street as to hardly raise an eyebrow).

Unfaithfulness: A Royal Sign of The Times?

Unfaithfulness: A Royal Sign of The Times?

The Queen, supported by the Prime Minister, has now asked the couple to arrange a divorce, and it remains to be seen how the present negotiations are concluded. A number of problems will need to be resolved. For a start, there can be no marginalising of the mother of Prince William—a future heir to the throne. There is also considerable mistrust of Prince Charles’ declaration that he has no intention (at present) of marrying his long standing Catholic friend, Camilla Parker-Bowles.

Only last winter at the Church of England’s Synod meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury at last stood up in public and robustly defended biblical ideals of marriage—an act which earned him a left-handed compliment from the Catholic Herald who described it as "his finest hour"! It is hard to see how a future king, being divorced could marry another divorcee and at the same time become the Supreme Governor of a Church which, no matter how limply, does at least oppose the remarriage of divorced persons. (Footnote # 1).

Marrying a Catholic is not an option for a would-be king: it is explicitly forbidden by the 1689 Bill of Rights. In any case, the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, passed in the reign of George III, prevents the Archbishop from granting a marriage license to a royal divorcee. (Royalty-watchers will have noticed how Lady Diana’s sister-in-law, Princess Anne, arranged for her second marriage to take place in Scotland!). In addition, the 1701 Act of Settlement states that any royal person marrying a Catholic forfeits any claim to the throne (see footnote # 2). It is no wonder that so many rumours are circulating about urgent discussions between the Queen and John Major on the possibility of amending legislation.

Just to complicate things further, many Protestants are completely baffled why Lady Diana should have chosen a Catholic "Father" as house tutor to her son, Prince William, at Eton College. The logic of a future Governor of the Church of England being tutored by a representative of Rome is hard to understand.

The operational difficulties facing the Royal Family—which would not face any other family—are laws which, when they were devised in the 17th Century, were aimed at excluding Catholicism from the social and political life of the United Kingdom. The world was reminded of these legal provisions at the Coronation of the present Queen when she swore an oath which bound her to upholding Protestantism and never letting a Catholic sit on the throne of England. The Queen as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, (a title first used by Henry VIII but not formally confirmed until the days of Elizabeth I, when the Act of Supremacy was passed in 1559) is also the nation’s chief "Defender of the Faith"—as the letters "D.F." on British coins testify. In that role she is obliged to resist the spread of the Roman form of apostate religion and the infiltration of Vatican influence. (See footnote #3).

So how is she doing? Not too well, alas! But before we examine her performance record to date let us explain our interest as students of Bible prophecy.

A Virgin becomes a Harlot

The true church is referred to in the Bible by Jesus and the Apostles as a "virgin bride" awaiting the return of her bridegroom, the lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 11:2,3). Christians getting married in church are happy to be reminded of this pleasing metaphor (See, for example, Ephesians chapter 5). What, however, they are not pleased to learn, and indeed deliberately choose to ignore, is how the Bible also prophesies that the "virgin church" would be unfaithful to her Master while he remains away (James 4:4). So much so that the book of Revelation describes the church at the time of Christ’s return as being a scarlet woman, a veritable whore (see, for example, Revelation 17:5). Understandably, therefore, when Christ returns as the true Bridegroom, he will punish those who have betrayed his trust and meanwhile, true Bible loving Christians are told, in no uncertain terms, to "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins" (Rev. 18:4-6).

It is not surprising that nominal Christians prefer to ignore and even deny this rather unpleasant message. Ironically, although they refuse to recognize the Bible’s prophecy of spiritual fornication by the Church itself (Rev. 17:2) they are only too willing to gossip about the literal adulteries of their future rulers. Previous articles in The Bible Magazine have shown how well these Bible descriptions fit the world wide Roman Catholic Church and her political ambitions. Only recently did Pope John Paul II himself reaffirm his belief in the provisions of the Council of Trent held in Northern Italy in AD 1563—at which it was agreed that "The Roman Church is the Mother and Mistress of all churches". Note the remarkable language chosen to describe its own position.

A SCENE OF SCARLET COLOUR AS THE BRITISH MONARCH IS WELCOMED TO A ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVICE BY CARDINAL HUME

The Daughters Leave Home

It was from this Mother Church that the daughters began to leave home from the fifth Century AD onwards; such daughter churches as the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches and the Church of England eventually left her. Many Evangelical sects are happy to recognize the Pope as the ultimate leader of Christianity. Standing back and taking a long view of history and prophecy, the Bible reader can see how these divisions within the one original apostate church were used by God to work out his purposes with the nations. Because of the connection which Bible readers can see between the prophecies of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation, they are looking for the gradual mingling, rapprochement of ecumenism in the last days between all these churches. The Bible Magazine for October 1995 drew attention to developments in this field.

When, therefore, for the first time since the Reformation in the Middle Ages the Queen as head of the English Church allows herself to be persuaded to attend a very triumphalist Roman Catholic centenary celebration at Westminster Cathedral, within sight of her home at Buckingham Palace, Bible students can hardly believe their eyes! To dismiss the occasion as yet another of the Monarch’s routine duty attendances at a 100th birthday party is not only to miss completely the significance of a remarkable event but to be blind to the trend of which this is so significant an example. As The Daily Telegraph put it: "The Queen’s journey to the front of Westminster Cathedral may be a small step for a woman. But some will see it as a giant leap for the Catholic Church. It really represents something very different—the shuffling together for warmth of Church and State amidst an icy post-Christian culture".

When, in December 1995, Dr. David Hope was enthroned as the new Archbishop of York (the second most powerful job in the Church of England) his sermon was strikingly Catholic with three references to the Blessed Virgin. At Milton Keynes in England (half way between London and Birmingham) there was opened in 1992 the remarkable new Church of Christ the Cornerstone, which serves the needs of 12 ecumenical congregations including Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Salvation Army and the United Reform Church.

Little to Choose Between them

Let us be quite clear: we do not prefer one form of apostate religion to any other sort: Christendom as a whole is sadly astray from the Bible. Rather is our role to watch; to draw attention to what is going on; to point out its significance as a remarkable sign of our times and thereby to warn, that readers be not deceived by the superficial attractiveness of what they are witnessing.

Daniel 4:17 tells us that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men whether they be Islamic, Jewish, Catholic or Protestant. Just because He uses them—in a similar way to which He used Assyria, Egypt, or Babylon of old, does not mean that He regards them as inherently any more righteous than their neighbours. But when considering how He might have used Britain during the last 500 years, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that maybe it was for the worldwide dissemination of His Word— for no other one national language or other multi-cultural grouping of peoples has been used in this way. There can be no doubt that the universal availability of the Bible today owes much to the Protestant movements of the Middle Ages in England: to the courage of Wycliffe, Tyndale and the many other martyrs who stood out against the persecution of a Rome which objected to their attempts to spread God’s Word. Not for nothing are the Inquisition and similar Catholic persecutions referred to in Revelation 17:6, where the Harlot of Rome is described as "being drunken with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus". Today there are literally thousands who owe a debt of gratitude not just to the early Bible translators but to those many Bible missionaries who now preach a true Christian gospel in such Catholic strongholds as the Phillipines, Central Africa, Central and South America, Spain and many other places.

ANGLICANS FALL PROSTRATE BEF0RE ROME

Former Church of England Clerics are ordained as Roman Priests

The Daughters to Return Home

But to revert to the Mother Church calling home her Daughters: The last 20 years have provided many examples of the way she has been doing this, scoring some spectacular successes with Evangelical Christians and with such leaders as Billy Graham, David Du Plessis, Charles Colson, J.I. Packer and many others. In the course of the Pontiff’s recent visit to the United States, the well known American televangelist Pat Robertson gave to the Pope a 3-page letter promising to work for unity between the Papacy and the Evangelical Movement. As Revelation 17:2, 17 tells us, she has been committing fornication with world rulers in order to induce them into accepting her spiritual leadership. It so happens that, uniquely, the British head of state is also head of a rival church to that of Rome! The failed Anglican/Rome ARCIC talks are a classic example; so, too, was the Vatican’s triumph in overcoming Communism in Poland, and now more recently, in the former Yugoslavia, where no sooner was the Paris Peace Treaty signed in December 1995, than that very afternoon, Catholic Croatia applied to join the papally influenced European Union.

The Headlong Rush to Rome

This drift to Rome is now becoming a flood, and nowhere is it more apparent than in nominally Protestant Britain.

Only two years ago, the Duchess of Kent joined the Catholic Church, and was very pointedly "welcomed home" by the Pope himself. Cardinal Hume has lived to regret the publicity given to his comment that this event marked the start of "The conversion of England". It was, after all, the first conversion to Rome by a member of the royal family since the days of Charles II in 1685. As the Catholic Herald reported last summer, the Duchess attended the formal Mass of Thanksgiving at the Westminster Cathedral and "resplendent in a feathered hat read the lesson from 1 Corinthians chapter 3 to an audience which included 35 bishops".

Lady Diana’s mother, Mrs Shand-Kydd, recently converted to Rome, and although for so long resident in Australia decided with astonishing timing and aplomb to spend over 100,000 building a "Catholic House of Prayer" on the barren island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland. It just so happens that this was the very place where St. Columbia is alleged to have landed from Ireland bringing with him the Roman version of Christianity to Britain in AD 563 (Needless to say this has led to considerable speculation as to how long it will be before her daughter "crosses the Tiber" and joins Rome too). Talking of Scotland, readers in the British Isles will be only too aware of the political posturing going on over the possible independence for Scotland from the Westminster Parliament. There is a strong Catholic vote in Scotland: the Labour Party are very strong there and Tony Blair’s family are devout Catholics, though he himself is not (yet) a full member. As part of their counter attack the Tories have appointed the Sunday Times columnist, Gerald Warner, a notable Catholic, as special adviser to the Scottish Office!

Defender of What Faith?

Prince Charles has not helped his mother’s situation by stating quite plainly that he is not so much interested in inheriting the title of "Defender of the Faith" as becoming just a defender of faith—almost, it would seem, of any faith, be it Islamic, Catholic, Protestant or whatever. We read with interest that his stance on this matter is openly supported by such leading members of the Tory Reform Group as Deputy Premier Michael Heseltine and Chancellor Kenneth Clarke. Talking of politics, (and bearing in mind Catholics were not even allowed to be Members of Parliament until 1829) is it not exquisitely interesting that the man charged with regulating standards of conduct by MPs is Lord Nolan, another devout Catholic? So too, now, is Sir George Gardiner, M.P. for Reigate in Surrey, who when he recently converted to Rome said: "I’m very sorry to part company with the King James Bible...but this is something you just have to leave behind". Another significant development is the way in which the leading Pro-life M.P. for Liverpool, David Alton, last year formed the British Christian Democratic Party or movement, and was encouraged in this work by being invited to take Mass with the Pope. It won’t have escaped the attention of readers that most European parties with that name (e.g. Germany) are heavily Catholic in nature.

One wonders, too, what could happen to the House of Lords if present trends continue. 26 seats are reserved for Anglican Bishops only. The prospect of the Pope being entitled to sit alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury seems absurd, but in her 1966 New Year’s Honours List, the Queen appointed the U.K.’s senior Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, David Worlock, as "Companion of Honour" — the first time this major award has ever been made to a Roman Catholic. The Catholic Herald’s front page comment was significant: "The honour will be seen by many people as further confirmation of the ease with which the Catholic Church has assimilated itself into mainstream British life." Newspapers recently reported that the Vatican’s Ambassador is set to become Dean of the Foreign Diplomatic Corps in London—the most senior ambassadorial post at the Court of St. James. The Catholic Herald reports that in most countries this post is automatically reserved for the papal legate, but not so in Britain (until now) where longevity of service is what really counts. Archbishop Barbarito will be taking over this role after only 8 years service, and prior to 1982 there had been no official Vatican Ambassador to Britain since the Reformation. From starting post to premier post in 13 years is not bad going even for the Vatican!

The Roman Catholic magazine '30 Days' take a symbolic view of the fire at Windsor Castle, 1992

The Role of the Media

The Catholic Church’s strategy to achieve global power has deliberately included gaining positions of influence in media circles. The media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, whose Catholic influenced organization not only publishes such lurid tabloids as the Sun and News of the World but also the Times as well as several editions of the New International Version of the Bible. The Daily Telegraph recently appointed Charles Moore as editor—a recent convert to Rome sharing, presumably, the same faith as John Birt, the recently appointed Director General of the BBC— a most competent news interviewer and presenter—and who often writes in the Catholic Herald, and readers of the growingly popular magazine "Hello" cannot but help observe its Catholic bias.

In January the Evangelical Times, under the headline, "CNN to publish Vatican Bible" reported that this international US news Channel which is now available in Britain and many other parts of the world has acquired the exclusive worldwide publishing rights to the Vatican Library in Rome and that its first publication would be "a 1312 page limited edition of the Bible based on the New Revised Standard Version" (See footnote #4). Elsewhere it has been reported that the Vatican has two telecommunications satellites of its own on a 440 hectare site just north of Rome. This also houses two of the world’s most powerful transmitters and two of the world’s largest rotating antennae. This Spring, 34 Catholic and Orthodox publishers will be combining to transmit "Christian" TV programmes via satellite to 23 Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Last year there was the fourth European-wide meeting in Budapest of what are described as Catholic Media Bishops who discussed the "developing role of the Church in building a more united Europe". They reviewed the use of television, radio and press media and agreed to set up a communications network between 32 countries in the European area.

Prophecy Fulfilling

Christadelphians believe that all down the ages of history the Lord has been continually unfolding evidence of His hand at work in the nations. Of course, the greatest signs have concerned Israel; their regathering; the creation of their state; the burgeoning peace process and so on. The Lord has also given us the now very obvious signs in Russia, Europe, the British Commonwealth and America. Bible readers can sit back and view these signs almost impersonally and dispassionately. It seems that it is only when we turn to those very prophecies that concern the latter day state of "churches today" that so many become uncomfortable. This need not be so, for what all of us can now see unfolding before our eyes in Church circles is yet another sure sign of the nearness of Christ’s return. Are we all ready for that event?


Footnotes

#1 Bible teaching on the principles involved is quite clear: see, for example Malachi 2:16. Matt 19, 1 Cor 7.

#2 The Bible Magazine for April 1994 has a full length article on this subject.

#3 It is ironical that Henry VIII was awarded this title by Pope Leo X in 1521 for defending the Catholic faith against the protestations of Martin Luther in Germany. However in 1538, Pope Paul III deprived him of the title when the king ordered the closure of several monasteries and convents, and also instructed that copies of the Great Bible be placed in every parish church. In spite of this, the English Parliament confirmed it as one of the Royal titles of the English monarchs. Readers may be forgiven for wondering precisely what faith it is the Queen is supposed to be defending!

#4 An article reviewing recent "Ecumenical Translations"—of which the New R.S.V. can be regarded as an example—occurs in the Editorial page of the October 1995 edition of the Bible Magazine.