Waldensian Trail of Faith

Dr Pierre Coovert

Saturday I went on a tour of the Waldensian Trail of Faith in Valdese, NC. It was a real joy to see some of what our Baptist forefathers suffered to preserve the Gospel pure for us. From about 65 AD until the time of the Reformation these people stood for the Gospel at great cost to themselves.

I was both saddened and rejoiced to see the suffering they endured for their faith. I was saddened to think that others would be so brutal toward someone who simply wanted to worship God as they saw fit. I rejoiced to see the faith that allowed them to suffer for their beliefs and still to honor one of the persecuting kings when he came to their area.

I was also saddened to see them join with John Calvin during the Reformation. They did this to end the suffering and I fully understand why. I do not say this to judge them. I may well have joined them if I had been there. I have not seen thousands of my fellow believers killed for their faith.

I have not been turned out in the cold winter with two feet of snow on the ground and nothing but the clothes on my back. There were others of the same persuasion as the Waldenses who did not join with the Protestants of the Reformation and paid with their lives.

In the west this persecution continued until the approval of the Bill of Rights in the American Constitution. In the east it continues until this day.

Those of us who are paying attention read of the persecution and murder of Christians every week.

Another sad thought that came to mind because of this tour is a parallel thing that is happening in our day. It is parallel, but not the same because the Waldenses joined the Protestants (John Calvin) to put an end to horrible persecutions. In our day Baptists are joining with Protestants simply to be more popular. They just want to be accepted by a larger number of people.

The Waldenses still hold to their apostolic origins, but many, if not most, modern Baptists are denying their apostolic origins. They say that Baptists come out of the Reformation under John Smyth. If John Smyth is the originator of the Baptists in the early 1600’s, who were those called Baptists by Zwingli a hundred years earlier?

Although Baptists have not always carried the name Baptist, they have always been Baptists. Most of their history is written in blood and is written by their enemies. Baptist writings were destroyed whenever they were found. The Catholic Church accused them of many things that were untrue.

From somewhere in the middle of the second century there were two names that were associated with the people now called Baptists. The more popular one was Anabaptist. The other and less known name was Cathar. They were called Anabaptists because they would not accept the corrupt baptism of impure churches. They were called Cathares because they were the lived pure lives. The name Cathar comes from the Greek word “katharos” meaning pure.

The name Cathar was used of many of the groups which held to biblical principles in opposition to the impure churches, which became the Catholic Church. It was applied to the church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3), the Waldenses in what is now norther Italy, the Albigenses of southern France, and groups in most of Europe. Those called Cathares existed in every century from the time of the apostles until our day.

It is my desire to encourage Baptists to return to their Cathar roots. Doctrinal purity must become more important than popularity. Holy (pure) lives must be seen as the first step in pleasing God. Both of these must be seen as necessary for proper evangelism.

If we are not going to be “katharos” then we should remove the name Baptist from the signs in front of our churches.

Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved

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