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Catholic Triumphalism From Protestants?

There is branch of Catholic prophecy that predicts a series of events prior to the rise of Antichrist that lead to a unified Catholic Europe. Generally speaking, the events that lead to this foretold conversion are horrendous. Economic collapse, civil war, more war, an Islamic invasion of Europe, pestilence, and natural disasters. Death on an unprecedented level. It is at the point that Europe (and the world) are forced to admit that this was all the result of the godless world of their own creation. In their desperation, they finally turn back to God. From this turmoil rises two great personages of the era that lead what remains of mankind back to the true faith. All forms of schism essentially disappear. There is a prophesied great military and civil leader who along with a Pope of incredible virtue reform the faith and eventually the world leading to a time of one flock, one shepherd.

This basic sequence of events has quite a pedigree in the world of private revelation but is frequently, perhaps unfairly, regarded as the result of hyperactive medieval imagination and nationalistic prophecy wars. After the reformation, the idea of one flock, one shepherd took on a whole new meaning. Some of the private revelation subsequent to the reformation makes direct reference to the elimination of protestantism. Much of this has been disregarded as nothing more than Catholic triumphalism.

This is why I was startled when I read about a coming unified Catholic Europe from a decidedly anti-Catholic source, theTrumpet.com.

To say in 2008 that the Anglicans will ultimately join the Catholic Church may seem a premature claim. But what about making this prediction in 1961? In the October 1961 Plain Truth, Herbert W. Armstrong made this bold forecast: “The pope will step in as the supreme unifying authority—the only one that can finally unite the differing nations of Europe. … Europe will go Roman Catholic! Protestantism will be absorbed into the ‘mother’ church—and totally abolished.”

But even that bold claim was not the first forecast of what is becoming today’s current events. That goes back to approximately 750 b.c. and the Prophet Isaiah’s words on which Mr. Armstrong based his statement. Isaiah foretold a time when a great mother church would experience a great rebellion but would ultimately bring her daughters back under her direction (Isaiah 47). Centuries later, we are seeing Bible prophecy come alive!
Of course, our brethren at the Trumpet think that a unified Catholic Europe is the Whore of Babylon and that this Catholic unity will be achieved at the point of a gun or some other future coercive mind changer. They also think that this will be the Roman Empire from which springs the Antichrist.

Remarkably, this branch of Catholic prophecy doesn't see this as too far off. While Catholics would disagree that the Church is the WoB and will usher in Antichrist. But what does it say? Well, it is from this unified Catholic Europe that gives rise to the last and final Roman Empire whose collapse presages the rise of the man of sin. These private prophecies indicate that the faith, peace, and prosperity that follows the triumph of the Church and universal preaching of the Gospel will not last long. Mankind won't allow it. This will be the great apostasy. The empire will be divided up among a number of rulers and well, you know the rest.

Now, the folks at theTrumpet are not the only ones who think that Europe will once again be Catholic, it is suspected by a number of groups, many protestant.

I hope the irony isn't lost on anyone. It seems that the only Catholic triumphalism these days comes from non-Catholics. Many Catholics today act as if we only expect the situation to get worse as Catholicism withers on the vine. It seems that certain modern protestants and Catholic prophets of yesteryear are not so pessimistic.

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3 comments:

Brian said...

Wow - finally, a Catholic who knows the Catholic perspective on the chastisement and other coming events!

Adoro te Devote said...

Actually, that quote from Isaiah is taken completely out of context. He wrote from a historical point of view with regard to a series of events, which ARE quite similar to those we find ourselves in now.

I can't remember what was stated in our Old Testament class (gosh, only a couple weeks ago now...) but that very prophecy was discussed. It's not alluding to a future event, but to their "present".

Yet, other prophecies of Isaiah, such as the sign given to Ahaz (a young woman shall give birth to a child and his name will be Emmanual, "God is with us"), applied BOTH to their situation and to the messianic significance.

We have to be very careful when it comes to so-called "End time" prophecies, for we've been in the end times since the Resurrection of Christ.

That said...our country has abandoned God, just as did the Israelites back in the 700's BC. And we can expect God to leave us to our own designs as a natural consequence of our ongoing disobedience.

But you know...if that's what it takes to inspire conversion, well, suffering works in other parts of the world, and it'll work here, too once we're stripped of our materialism and consumerism.

author@ptgbook.org said...

I found your post with a quote about Herbert W. Armstrong's teaching about a future unity of Europe interesting. I remember hearing Herbert W. Armstrong on the radio during the seventies and I think the early eighties. He had a lot to say about Europe. At that time, Europe was not as close to unity as it is today. One thing that is different so far from what he predicted is that the European Union is secular, not religious. But this could change. If the world and Europe are faced with a terrifying crisis and if a charismatic religious leader appears, people in Europe may turn away from secularism and towards the Catholic Church, and the leaders of Europe may encourage this if it helps create unity.

People often turn to religion in times of need or fear (remember the saying, there is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole). There may be a root of religious feeling in Europe that has been surpressed, but will express itself given the right circumstances.

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