Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Power of the Prelates

jeromeofpragueburned

In the previous post, I highlighted the faithfulness of Jerome of Prague whose endurance in the Gospel brought him through many trials and tribulations, leading to his eventual martyrdom at the hands of the religious majority. As a follow-up to this lesser known piece of history, I want to remind the reader of two significant facts: 1. Those who condemned Jerome had no interest in hearing his full defense – in the blindness of their power, they cared little about any legislative justice; 2. When they pressed their charges, they revealed their own nakedness and shame, for the thing that was last on their list of complaints should have been first:

1. That he was a derider of the papal dignity.

2. An opposer of the pope.

3. An enemy to the cardinals.

4. A persecutor of the prelates.

5. A hater of the Christian religion.[1]

The vehemence of Jerome's opponents had a corrupt centerpiece. Rather than being the defenders of the majesty of God and His glorious Gospel, Jerome’s persecutors were revealed to be the protectors of their own power over the people. Meditate on that list of complaints and you will find that these men had no concern for the substance of Jerome's life and ministry; instead, they were incensed with an individual who would dare to question the religious majority. The Pope, his cardinals, and attending prelates, are all listed first as a kind of bizarre admission to a vacuously man-centered system of religion. Oddly, in a world that is ruled by the Prince of the power of the air, such complaints actually have a place in the annals of human "justice." However, in the world of God's genuine justice, the above fifth point - when true - supplies enough of a “list” to establish a genuine heresy.

If Jerome were truly a hater of the Christian religion, then not much else would need to be said.

Finally, the insanity of Jerome's conviction and murder was adorned with grotesque pride and spiritual indifference. Jerome’s accusers had no interest in hearing his defense. His humanity meant nothing to those who crushed his life. From the height of their power, Jerome's personal significance as a creation of God had faded from their sight, and by this mutilated perception of theirs, Jerome's personal testimony, life, and doctrine disappeared amidst their prelate-zeal to preserve their influence over the people. Before murdering him with their hands, they murdered him with their tongues (Matthew 5:22), with their:

Slander (Proverbs 16:28)

False accusations (Proverbs 12:22)

Malicious gossip (Proverbs 20:19)

The bearing of false witness (Deuteronomy 19:18)

All of this, along with their sinful acceptance of false witnesses, constituted the prerequisites to their ultimate goal – the godless destruction of a man who dared to question their presumed authority.

The modern church would be remiss to ignore such lessons that have been scripted with martyr’s blood. Overall, the Christian must remember that biblical authority always trumps the presumed power and authority of any prelate, religious body, or denomination.

God’s power and authority is simply that awesome.


[1] John Fox. Fox's Book of Martyrs.