Not Really a Catholic
Erasmus and His Hard Work
In Short, Conclusion
Have you ever heard of Erasmus? You might have, you probably have not. I can assure you though, that perhaps if you have, you most likely have been misinformed! I know I personally was. But then through research, and digging deep, you do find the Truth. I have also been blessed by God, through our sister, Gail Riplinger who does great research, to have been able to receive a copy of the first edition of the Tome of the Paraphrases of Erasmus upon the New Testament(1548-1549) which aids greatly in determining the beliefs of Erasmus.
Erasmus, his character, his beliefs, his works, have greatly been attacked and misrepresented, and just downright deceitfully been changed throughout history. This man, has been claimed to have been a devout Catholic, taking vows and going into the monastery, and, studying became an Augustinian. This is said by many people, for many reasons. One, it is said by some to try to make Erasmus out to be Catholic in belief, and cause him shame. Others know how great of a Christian Erasmus was, so they want him to be known as a Catholic, to bring glory to the Catholic church. I have found the latter part to be found among most of the research I had done, and from what I was told before I did the research.
In truth, yes, Erasmus took vows, went into the monastery, and became an Augustinian. Was he Catholic? Quite the opposite. Here is the person of Erasmus . . .
Erasmus was . . . a humanist!
Woa! Now that must've caught your attention! I know it caught mine!
Yes, Erasmus was indeed a humanist! Key word though, being WAS. The term "humanist" in Erasmus' lifetime, did not carry with it the meaning it carries today. Today, Humanist is a negative term. Back then, it was not.
Today, a humanist is one who basically believes in the ultimate good of people. A humanist today believes that humans can have complete fulfilment, simply through knowledge and "believing in oneself." A humanist, is a believer in humanism. Humanists today, follow after a sad and horribly mistaken concept that nearly agrees with the lie, "Man is a god."
Back then, the term "Humanist" was quite different! The unabridged Oxford English Dictionary, which is good to use for knowing the old meanings of words, says that the term "humanist" described "a classical scholar; esp. Latinist, a professor or teacher of Latin." elsewhere the term Humanist is noted to have meant a "grammarian" or simply one who deeply studies, languages in particular. To back up the fact that Erasmus was not a humanist by TODAY'S terms, think of what a humanist is and believes. Then look at the beliefs of Erasmus. He is quoted as even saying the truth that to further enrich studies, and to truly know knowledge, one must put Christ First, and get back to the "simple and pure Christianity in the Bible." 1 Humanists today are secularists. Humanists back then, were teachers and researchers, namely of languages.
Erasmus, was not a Catholic!
Now, if you've heard of Erasmus, or looked a little into whom Erasmus was, you might call me a liar. That Erasmus was a Roman Catholic, is probably the most-said "half-truth" about Erasmus. Note, Half-Truth is what I called it, because it isn't completely a lie . . . I suppose.
Erasmus, was born into a family, who was pretty much against Catholicism. They even sent him for six years to Gerard Groote's school of the Brethren of the Common Life, which was known to have kept themselves from the Catholic Church's influence. They were known for their heartfelt devotion to Christ Jesus.
However, Erasmus' parents died . . . and this is when the trouble started for him. The guardians placed over him and his brother, forced them to go into Catholic Monasteries. This is found and noted by the many works of Historians who have known more about the life of Erasmus than others who now simply quote off lies in order to discredit him.
Erasmus has said, as quoted in the book, In Awe of Thy Word by Gail Riplinger, that the Monasteries "made him wear the dress, but they never had his consent. His oath was but an oath sworn to so many pirates"2 Erasmus is also quoted as describing such a thing in a letter to a friend of his:
Young men are fooled or cheated into joining these orders. Once in the toils, they are broken in and trained into Pharisees. They may repent, but the superiors will not let them go, lest they should betray the orgies which they have witnessed. They crush them down with scourge and penance, the secular arm, chanceries and dungeons.
Nor is this the worst. Cardinal Matteo said at a public dinner before a large audience, naming person and place, that the Dominicans had buried a young man alive whose father demanded his son's release. A Polish noble who had fallen asleep in a church saw two Franciscans buried alive . . . A monk may be drunk every day. He may go with loose women secretly or openly. He may waste the churches money on vicious pleasures. He may be a quack or a charlatan, and all the while be an excellent brother and fit to be an abbot; while one who for the best reasons lays aside his frock is howled at as an apostate. Surely the true apostate is he who goes into sensuality, pomp, vanity, the lusts of the flesh . . .Is it not wicked, my dear friend, to entangle young men by false representations in such an abominable net? Monks whose lives are openly infamous draw boys after them into destruction. The convent at best is but a miserable bondage, and if there be some outward decency (as among so many there much be some undepraved), a knot which cannot be loosed may still prove so fatal to soul and body.3
As Erasmus was forced into the Monasteries, he did take advantage of his horrible trouble, by deciding to become an Augustinian, because it would suit Erasmus' desire for learning:
Destined against his will to be a Roman Catholic priest, Erasmus chose to become an Augustinian on the sole attribute that they were known to have the finest of libraries available in Europe. This was where he could feed his insatiable desire for knowledge.His behavior was somewhat bizarre by Augustinian standards. He refused to keep vigils, never hesitated to eat meat on Fridays, and (though ordained) chose never to function as a priest. The Roman Church had captured his body, but quite apparently his mind and heart were still unfettered.4
In all this, we see that even by Erasmus' own words, He was no Roman Catholic in belief, though he was technically forced to say vows by his guardians and the superiors in the monasteries. However, this was not forever in his life. He did, when he was older and able, leave such things, and even spent much of his adult life writing pamphlets and books protesting--even mocking--that which went on in the church of Rome. Many of these books he published, were blacklisted by the Roman Catholic church, and put in an index of books Catholics were banned from reading. Such include: The Praise of Folly, Enchiridion, De Conscribendis Epistolis, Moria, Julius Exclusus, The Pilgrimage, and many others which show a sting of satire against the practices of the Catholic church.
We see that Desiderius Erasmus, though forced to take vows at a young age, refused to go any further and instead blatantly rejected Catholic Teachings. Though Erasmus did love the people of the Catholic Church, as should rightly be, he loathed the unbiblical teachings and ungodly actions within the church, namely within those within the clergy. Was he then Protestant? No, the Protestants thought of Erasmus as "evasive." Rather, Erasmus is shown to be most close to the beliefs of the Anabaptists, for whom he had great respect.
Erasmus and his Hard Work
Probably most attached to the name Erasmus, is his compilation of the Textus Receptus. Many of Erasmus' critics, and those who dislike the Textus Receptus and the Bible which uses the Textus Receptus or agrees most with it, complain that Erasmus had put together the Textus Receptus very quickly, and from few sources. Let them be known as lies meant to discredit and not speak the Truth.
In order to understand the magnitude of the work Erasmus put forth into the Textus Receptus, remember that Erasmus was one given to seek learning. Most important, even from a very young age, he sought to study ancient manuscripts. The school he was sent to as a kid, Gerard Groote's school of the Brethren of the Common Life, was known greatly for their copying of manuscripts. That is how they made their living, was by copying manuscripts. This introduced Erasmus at a very early age, to such manuscripts as would be later useful to him. After being forced into the monasteries, he chose to be an Augustinian, so that he could look, handle, and learn from the huge library full of useful manuscripts and books. When a little older, Erasmus moved on to Italy because it too had great libraries full of manuscripts. The Catholic church, especially during that time, had a profession of buying and seeking out ancient manuscripts. So, their libraries were gold mines to Erasmus. He used this to his advantage by submerging himself in such learning. It is known that while in Italy he spent nearly all his time studying those manuscripts, " [C]omparing two codices...for the more correct reading of some intricate passage."5
From all his studies, he resolved to bring to the public, a printed and published Greek New Testament that was more precise and free from the many, many errors he had found in the Jerome Latin Vulgate, among other manuscripts that were called, "pure" and "true." Through all his years upon years of study, practically growing up surrounded by it, by age 40 he was known as the world's leading authority on the Greek language. Those who claim Erasmus quickly put together the Textus Receptus, within a very short amount of time and with little work involved, apparently never dug deep into his life. Erasmus even complained about his eyesight because he toiled over the manuscripts for so much of his life. For years upon years upon even more years, Erasmus first studied those manuscripts in those extensive libraries. Then, for a dozen years he worked on the work of the Textus Receptus itself. Many claim it was hurriedly put together, but indeed it was not. This was his life's work actually. Such dedication to a job, and such extensive research would be incredibly hard, if not nearly impossible, to find in today's world among today's scholars.
Many also claim that the Textus Receptus was put together only by those manuscripts he found in the library of the Basle Dominicans. This lie has honestly been around even since Erasmus' day, as
He himself protested against accusations of this sort, in his dedicatory letter to Leo X. And it seems undeniable that he used notes, at any rate, which he had made on the manuscripts that he had seen in England. . .6
Let it be known, that Erasmus was no rushed, and limited scholar. Let it be known, that his life's work, the Textus Receptus, was not in any way quickly put together, with so little research involved. This was a huge and monumental piece of work--to Erasmus and the world. Though let it be known of Erasmus and the Textus Receptus, this fact:
We should not attribute to Erasmus the creation of a "received text," but only the transmission from a manuscript text, already commonly received, to a printed form, in which this text would continue to prevail for three centuries7
Erasmus did not create a new text, but merely "put together the many puzzle pieces," and printed and published this Greek New Testament that was incredibly reliable. It was not a text newly received, but rather was built upon those pieces which were already received by the True Church and Body of Christ Jesus. Erasmus weeded out the poor and unreliable manuscripts, and presented us with a true and very reliable Greek New Testament, later known to be the Textus Receptus because those Spirit-filled members of the Body of Christ, realized it was indeed the true Word of God in the Greek New Testament Form.
In Short, Conclusion
Considering all of the above, we recall the fact that when dealing with history, it's people and actions, there are so many who wish to taint it and change the Truth for a Lie. This is no different with Desiderius Erasmus, as so many people wish to change the facts to make him insignificant, or worse, make him out to be an evil deceiver who did nothing but trick people into believing something he thought up one day. I'm not uplifting Erasmus, but I simply am showing the facts, not based on fringe research, but digging deep into the very words Erasmus himself spoke. Erasmus' words and his actions, show the truth about his life despite what others may try to distort. This is what he himself even said in "I can keep my own innocency. I cannot help what men may say about me."8
DefinitionsCompilation--Putting together, act of compiling
Sources1. Hastings, James. The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, New York: Scribner's, 1928, vol.6, p.832.
2. Froude. The Life and Letters of Erasmus: Lectures Delivered at Oxford 1893-4, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1899, pp.175-176.
3. Riplinger, Gail. In Awe of Thy Word: Understanding the King James Bible, Its Mystery and History, Letter by Letter. VA: A.V. Publications Corp. 2003, pp.924-925.
4. Gipp, Samuel C. Gipp's Understandable History of the Bible. OH: Daystar Publishing, Second Edition 2000, p.109.
5. Riplinger, Gail. In Awe of Thy Word: Understanding the King James Bible, Its Mystery and History, Letter by Letter. VA: A.V. Publications Corp. 2003, p.929.
6. Cambridge History of the Bible, Vol.2, p.498.
7. The Gentile Bias and Other Essays, The Erasmian Notes on Codex 2, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1980, p.168.
8. Froude. The Life and Letters of Erasmus: Lectures Delivered at Oxford 1893-4, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1899, p.32.