Posted in theology

Of Tweet-storms, cauldrons, and cesspools

By Elizabeth Prata

A week ago, on Reformation day 2022, (October 31) I tweeted a thread and subsequently posted a longer piece from the blog about something Beth Moore had said. She proclaimed with certainty that her 87 year old mother-in-law (who had passed 2 weeks before) was “in the presence of Jesus” and reunited with family members. The problem was, besides the fact of claiming you know with certainty anyone’s final destination, was that her Mother-in-law was a “devoted” life-long, “staunch” Catholic.

I’d said that if anyone who believes the dogmas of Rome, when they depart this world, is likely not in heaven. That was what the Protestant Reformation was all about, protesting the apostasy evident in that false religious structure. The Catholic Church by Martin Luther’s day had become apostate, rife with man-made traditions, schemas for salvation, merit, works, and indulgences (monetization of religion). It is still the same today. The Roman Catholic Church is a false church with an evil religious structure that opposes God. Believers in that church are sadly deceived that they are worshiping ‘this same Jesus’ in Acts 1:11 who departed this world and who will return in wrath and fury. (Revelation 19:21, Colossians 3:6).

Keep out, warn your discernment people. There be piranhas and brimstone.

That first tweet in my thread garnered 172,000 impressions and over 10,000 engagements within a day or two. Of the responses and discussions I’d seen, only 2 were positive or encouraging. The rest elicited a host of attacks, swears, curses, insults, and evil accusations. Some were poisonously corrupt to the Nth degree.

The attacks were almost instant, cruel, and ruthless. Many were from self-identified Christians, self-stated liberals, however, which explains a lot. Yet it was unbelievable what some of them felt it was OK to say in public the things they said.

I pondered and processed that event over the next few days, and here’s my conclusion:

1. I got to share the Gospel again and again and again. In the Twitterverse, there are not only the people you are directly engaging with, but all the people watching. There are a lot. So the Gospel was presented (as best as one can with the character limit). That is satisfying. Ultimately my first goal as a social media user is to proclaim the excellencies of Jesus.

2. I got to say several times that the Catholic church is corrupt and not Christian, and attach resources for further exploration. This is also good. It’s the second goal of mine to present credible resources to people. There is a lot of false out here. Putting out links to good ministries is a privilege and my joy.

3. I got to say many times that Beth Moore is a false teacher. I was expecting the outcry. It happens almost every time Beth Moore is presented in a negative light. It happened when I and 5 other ladies published the Open Letter to Beth Moore. It happened when I broke the news after she departed the Southern Baptist Convention that she was serving at the pulpit at her new Anglican church. Because Moore is destructive to one’s walk and one’s soul, I am pleased to say as many times as I can that she is false, in hopes that even one sister in Christ will go away from Moore. She’s one of the worst false teachers of past decades. Stating this in hopes of some eyes opening is my privilege and my joy.

4. Such activity reveals. It is an Elisha servant moment. When Elisha’s servant looked out and saw that the King of Syria’s army had surrounded them at Dothan, the servant moaned and said,

And his servant said to him, “This is hopeless, my master! What are we to do?” And he said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are greater than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “Lord, please, open his eyes so that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17).

Can we see the demons? No. They are spiritual beings. But we can see their activity.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12).

In your mind’s eye, envision a still pool in a verdant forest. It looks inviting, pretty, calm. Throw a big rock into the pool, and suddenly there is motion, ripples, splashes. Waves reverberate against the shore. Cattails along the edge wave wildly. Chaotic splashing spreads poison spray on the upper reaches of the grass on shore, which wilt and some die. Piranhas lurking just under the surface leap and scream wildly, revealing themselves.

That is what happens when you throw a big rock into the polluted pool of Beth Moore defenders. At once you can see the verdant pool is not inviting after all, it is an unpleasant cauldron of malevolent schemes and percolating brimstone.

I’ll gladly take the splashback from the false teacher cesspool if whatever I post roils up the demonic so that its activity can be identified. I wish we all could be given an a glimpse like Elisha’s servant was, but unfortunately such privileges are few and far between these days. But God did give us His word, which is always available to one and all who are regenerated and can spiritually discern its contents. He did give us discernment to be trained up in. Discernment always roils the false. When you see such outcry, take note, it’s your discernment people trying to point out the mines in the minefield.

5. It became clear to me how many people need to be educated on the falsity of the Catholic church, what the Reformation was, and that there is a massive, fundamental, and eternal difference between Protestant and Catholic. The agitated activity showed us that ignorance is rife even among believers. Why?

Over the last couple of decades, the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the world (formerly led in part by the self-same Beth Moore), tolerated Catholic practices such as Lectio Divina, Contemplative prayer, and other mystical practices such as visions and direct revelation, used by the Catholic Church for centuries. When Moore herself publicly stated several times that Catholics are just another denomination, there was no public correction from the actual leaders of the SBC. In time, the undiscerning Baptists (and others) came to accept what leaders were saying overtly and by omission, and now have a hard time understanding that Catholicism isn’t Christian.

If you, dear sister, are tired of the wrangling and pushback from your social media posts, I understand. People have no common sense these days. They lack basic charity and grace. Politeness seems to have flown the coop. But also know that all things work to the good of those who love God, and He is glorified even in the disorder created by Tweet storms, Facebook posts, and blog essays. Let’s not become discouraged in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not become weary. (Galatians 6:9).

The demons don’t get weary. Malignant activity still performs its evil in this world. It’s up to us to shine the light. Ephesians 5:11 says Do not participate in the useless deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;

The Gospel goes on, it is the joy and light of salvation. Its proclamation sometimes is received well, other times not. But we persist in being ambassadors for His name, THE name-

through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles in behalf of His name, (Romans 1:5).

Further Reading

Are Catholics saved? (GotQuestions essay)

Are Roman Catholics Christian? (CARM essay)

What’s the Problem with Beth Moore? (video-1:33)

Discernment in Days of Defection (sermon by Phil Johnson)

The End Time Blog Podcast Season 2, Episode 270

Posted in theology

Reformation Day is a good day to talk about the Blood on Beth Moore’s Hands

By Elizabeth Prata

An essay in three sections.

  1. The Reformation and what it stood for
  2. Beth Moore and her failure to teach the truth about Catholicism
  3. What the Bible teaches about leaders failing to preach the true word, and encouragement for those who do

1. What was the Reformation about?

October 31, Reformation Day, is a day when Christians bring to remembrance the old Catholic priest, Martin Luther. His inquiry into the scriptures, his spiritual angst over indulgences (a gross monetization of the faith), dismissal of the theology around purgatory, and his disappointment and despair after his trip to Rome, caused him on October 31, 1517 (traditionally accepted date) to nail 95 Theses to the All Saints’ Church in anticipation of a theological discussion. These theses became the foundation for the ensuing Protestant Reformation. We have been discussing ever since.

In his theses, Martin Luther had said thatIt is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence letters, even though the indulgence commissary, or even the pope, were to offer his soul as security.” (Thesis #52).

He also said, “They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others.” (#53).

And, in speaking against the gross accumulation of personal wealth by the Pope, that “The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.” (#62).

The Roman Catholic Church teaches and preaches heresy. Anyone believing the doctrines of Rome is likely not saved. If they do come to true repentance in the true faith, they soon leave the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), because it is not spiritually profitable to remain. The Holy Spirit who indwells the new believer, would not let them stay.

Ex-Catholic and now fervent Protestant Evangelist Mike Gendron, writes,

“Catholic salvation is based on Jesus plus Mary, faith plus works, grace plus merit, Scripture plus tradition and the blood of Jesus plus purgatory. Catholics do not know that any addition to the Gospel is a denial of the sufficiency of Christ (Heb. 7:25). Any addition to the Gospel also nullifies the saving grace of God, which is the only means by which God saves sinners (Romans 11:6). Catholics, who are victims of this deception, need to be evangelized with the true Gospel of grace.”

ABCs of Evangelizing Catholics


2. Beth Moore’s failure to teach the truth about Catholicism

Beth Moore’s 87 year old mother-in-law died a few weeks ago. Any death is sad, but when the person is likely a non-believer, it’s heart rending. The obituary says, “Mary and her husband John were lifelong, devoted Catholics.” If Mary believed RCC dogma, then she did not believe in the necessary elements of the faith.

Many of the 70 million Catholics in America were born into their religion and have never examined their faith through the lens of Scripture“. ~Mike Gendron

Beth’s mother-in-law Mary Moore was devoted to errant RC dogma. It’s a tragedy that she’s likely not dwelling in peace now or forever. But another tragedy is her daughter-in-law Beth, who proclaimed with certainty that Mary Moore,

“having entered the holy presence” said, “We are greatly consoled she lived to be 87 and is now not only with Jesus but with the two children she’d buried long ago and grieved deeply and daily.”

No. It’s a tragedy that Beth has compromised on this issue, declaring that a “devoted Catholic” has entered the holy presence of God. I hope Mary Moore has, but only due to last minute repentance in true faith. That post about her mother-in-law’s death on Instagram by Beth Moore got over 21,000 likes, and Moore’s Instagram account has over half a million followers. Beth’s influence and reach could have seen Catholics as a mission field.

But she didn’t. She doesn’t. She never has.

Beth’s own errant doctrine, compromising man-pleasing, or just cowardice, for many years has instead ignored the souls of millions she otherwise could have shared the truth with. There is blood on her hands, sadly. No one who believes Rome will see glory, except on Judgment Day, when the Lord will say “Depart from me, I never knew you!” and the same to false teachers like Moore who poison the faith and confuse the naïve.

Catholics are a mission field. They do not need an influential celebrity evangelical to assure them in their error! However, I and others have warned for over a decade now, that Moore teaches that Catholics are part of the true faith. She taught from her 2002 ‘study’, “Believing God” that Jesus lifted her to another dimension and gave her a view of the global church “as he sees it” which included the Catholic Church. She used an example of various denominations with signs to illustrate this ‘vision’, naming the Catholic ‘denomination’ of St. Anne’s Catholic Church. Her mother-in-law was a member of a church named St. Anne Catholic Church, by the way.

In this screen shot from a video, Moore is teaching from her 2002 ‘Believing God’ study that a Catholic church is simply another denomination along with Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran churches etc

In her 2006 Catholic-influenced Mystical DVD “Be Still,” Moore spoke of lines between denominations being erased, insinuating the lines were between Catholic and Protestant. In effect, she was denying the need for the Reformation and rejecting that severe doctrinal differences separate Protestants and Catholics. She said,

“You know, one of the things that time gives us is that it erases the lines in between people so many different sections of the people of God. Because many years later it doesn’t matter any longer that this person was of this practice in the Christian faith and this person of another. Time somehow blurs those lines and we are profoundly moved by the historical narratives of all their lives, of so great a cloud of witnesses; that we can look back on and see what kept them running the race, what kept them running toward the face of Christ at the end of that finish line.”

In 2012 Moore participated in and led an arena full of impressionable youth in a RCC mystical practice called Lectio Divina at the Passion Conference. Clearly, Beth Moore believes that Catholicism is part of the faith, or if she doesn’t believe it, she acts like it is.

In 2020 Moore didn’t insinuate, she outright called Roman Catholicism a denomination of the faith.

I can understand that living with in-laws who are staunch Catholics is hard when you’re an alleged evangelical. I know they scowlingly objected to her quick and ignominious wedding in an off-white dress (Beth’s words). I understand the tensions when the in-laws remained Catholics all their lives, even when moving from Houston to Tomball, changing Churches from one Catholic church to another in a declaration of their continued loyalty to Rome.

I can understand that Beth’s husband, having been raised Catholic and remained attached to it throughout the marriage, was a hard to reach mission field; Moore has often publicly complained about her husband’s lack of interest in her Baptist church or the things of God, like not being inclined to study the word, or leafing through fishing magazines if forced to come where truth is being taught.

And in 2022, confidently writing on her Instagram to half a million followers that her Catholic M-I-L is in the presence of Jesus in heaven.

Opposing satan’s doctrines often brings tension, rejection, and difficulty. Instead of using her reach if not for her family (who knows if she did, God knows) then for at least the women she draws in to her public events and studies. Yet Moore consistently affirms Rome by her affirmations of Catholics being true believers and simply another denomination of the true faith. But it isn’t.


3. What the Bible teaches about leaders failing to preach the true word, and encouragement for those who do

“And now behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all people. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.” (Acts 20:25-27).

That’s the Apostle Paul speaking. Other translations say ‘I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God’. As Paul prepared to leave the believers in Ephesus, his conscience was clear. Why? Barnes’ Notes says,

“‘I have not kept back’; I have not been deterred by fear, by the desire of popularity, by the fact that the doctrines of the gospel are unpalatable to people, from declaring them fully. The proper meaning of the word translated here, “I have not shunned” ὑπεστειλάμην hupesteilamēn, is “to disguise any important truth; to withdraw it from public view; to decline publishing it from fear, or an apprehension of the consequences.” –End Barnes’ Notes Commentary

Paul said the same in Acts 18:6, But when they opposed and insulted him, he shook out his garments and told them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.

Hebrews 13:17 reminds us all of the weighty task that leaders have. They will give an account regarding the souls they’d had under their charge. “Obey your leaders and submit to them—for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account—so that they may do this with joy, not groaning; for this would be unhelpful for you.”

While we learners have an obligation to submit, the leaders/pastors/teachers have an obligation to preach boldly. Paul and Barnabas did, even facing down a hissing mob of Jews who were blasphemously contradicting their teaching. (Acts 13:46). They must offer the entire teaching. An incomplete gospel is no gospel at all. But the whole counsel of God (with nothing added!) is sufficient to save! What glorious Good News!

Finally, we forget, or ignore, the evilness of false teaching. Spurgeon never wavered on proclaiming the truth and never shrank from denouncing the false. He said of the Catholic mass-

“The mass is a mass of abominations, a mass of hell’s own concocting, a crying insult against the Lord of glory. It is not to be spoken of in any terms but those of horror and destestation. Whenever I think of another sacrifice for sin being offered, by whomever it may be presented, I can only regard it as an infamous insult to the perfection of the Savior’s work.” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon

For the leaders who are faithful, you have aspired to a noble task (1 Timothy 3:1), and no doubt if done with persistence, humility, and in truth, will hear our Lord say “Well done good and faithful servant… Enter into the joy of the Lord!” (Matthew 25:21). What a day that will be!

Further Resources

Mary Moore Obituary

Is Roman Catholicism biblical? (article, Grace to You)

Evangelizing Roman Catholics with Mike Gendron (video)

The Reformation and the Men Behind it (article, Ligonier)

Posted in movie review, theology

Movie Review- Spotlight; a must see

By Elizabeth Prata

Growing up, I didn’t know that the Catholic Church wasn’t a church. I thought it was THE Church. I thought all churches were the same, except that the Catholic Church was the biggest. Then as a middle-aged woman I was saved and I learned the difference between orthodoxy and heresy.

The Catholic Church is a heretical “church”, therefore it is a non-church entity. It is the longest-lived organization on the planet. The Roman Catholic Church is also an absolute monarchy. Its head is a king, with exclusive powers given for life that cannot be taken away and do not end until or unless he dies (or in recent years, resigns). It is the richest organization on the planet. It is also the most secretive.

Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Source- Lord Acton, a British historian of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Acton’s observation was that a person’s sense of morality lessens as his or her power increases. However, we know that prior to salvation, all flesh was already corrupted by the curse of sin. Not all people are as bad as they could be, but all flesh is corrupt. We have seen varying levels of corruption in dictators, tyrants, CEO’s, divas, and more. Hitler, Idi Amin, Gaddafi, Ashurbanipal of Assyria, Caligula, Ivan the Terrible, etc are all examples of this quote played out in history.

Without the internal guidance of the Holy Spirit who brings truth and light to a depraved mind, the more a person is separated from the moral reigns of accountability, the more he is insulated from even superficial accountability, the more his flesh will run rampant with seeking to fulfill its desires, whatever those desires may be. And the flesh has a lot of desires.

The Papacy is an absolute monarchy, as I mentioned, and the Vatican, which is a nation with borders and recognized by the UN as well as a global organization with tentacles in most every nation, is a place where unspeakable desires have been allowed to run wild over many centuries.

I was a journalist in New England from 2000-2006. The Boston Globe story about the pedophile priests broke in January 2002. It was huge. Words cannot explain the impact that story had on Catholic New England. It was like a bomb went off.

I was grieved to read of the new scandal of pedophile priests in Pittsburgh.

Catholic Priests Ran Child Porn Ring Out Of Pittsburgh Diocese
August 15, 2018 By Michael Stone

New grand jury report shows Catholic priests in Pittsburgh ran an extensive child porn ring where children were sexually exploited and groomed for abuse. In a growing and horrific story out of Pennsylvania, a breathtaking grand jury report released by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court documents rampant and pervasive child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, listing more than 300 accused clergy and over a 1,000 confirmed child victims.

Spotlight_(film)_poster
Source

Is there anything worse? Is there anything more evil that sexually abusing children, while using Jesus’ name as a cover? No.

 

The Pittsburgh news made me think of the Boston pedophile priests all over again. I looked into the old newspaper series and found that in 2015 a movie was made about the reporters who broke the story. It chronicled the lead-in to the Globe’s publication of what would eventually be a 600-article series covering the issue for most of that year. It’s called Spotlight, named after the team of investigative journalists who spend time digging and researching and exposing Boston corruption in whatever form. The newspaper won a Pulitzer for the series.

The movie showed how the reporters got onto the track of the story, their disbelief when the disparate leads turned into a pattern, then their horror, shock, and speechlessness when it was evident that the issue wasn’t just a few priests around Boston but was indeed a global, systemic problem.

In the movie Spotlight, it was shown that former priest, psychotherapist, and author named Richard Sipe clinically studied the RCC rule of priestly celibacy & the molestation issue for 30 years and found it to be a clinical “phenomenon”. He found that the celibacy rule was part of the problem. Over half of priests weren’t celibate but most who were active had sexual relations with adults. However his metric found that in any given location, 6% of priests would be molesters. In Boston in 2002, that meant of the 1500 priests active in parishes, about 90 would be molesting children.

This figure was confirmed in Boston, where given the number of active priests, Sipe had predicted 90 would be pedophiles. The Globe found 87 pedo-priests. Imagine the metric of how many victims that expands to! One priest in Boston had molested 80 boys. Compound that over the entire world. Indeed, at the movie’s end credits, they flashed all the cities where scandals of this sort had erupted. The priest-molestation issue is not insulated, sparse, or an anomaly. It’s widespread. Worse, it is systematically covered up by Cardinals Church Attorneys, policemen…

The movie stars Michael Keaton as the Spotlight editor, and the cast includes Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, and Stanley Tucci, among others. I appreciated that the film captured what devastation molestation does to a person’s psyche, and retained a grave and honorable dignity while interviewing the victims. I also appreciated that though the movie did by necessity spell out a few details, it didn’t overdo and kept that aspect of the scene to an understated minimum.

As the movie revealed the problem layer by layer, the director had done a good job of showing the world through the reporter’s increasingly jaded perspective. A silent look at a church, with a playground across the street no longer held charm for the reporters, but instead was a scene of potential horror. As the list of victims expanded, some on the team discovered people they knew had been molested, or had been unknowingly in contact with priests who had been active. One reporter discovered that a house down his own street held defrocked priests. As he leapt up from his computer and ran out into the street in his socks to look for himself, he ran past boys on bikes and playing ball, another scene of subversive horror rather than neighborly comfort.

Worst of all, as victims described the grooming process, it became apparent that priests traded on their authority to gain access to the boys most of whom were from broken homes, marginalized, and poor. The authority the priests traded on was God.

As I watched, I became incensed and grief-stricken. I mourned the many children who were raped or molested, and prayed and wailed for the Lord to return. I also became incensed, because of the grossness and horror of the use of God as a cover for normalizing this perversion.

I have avoided the issue since I came in contact with it in 2002, but given the news of the priests in Pittsburgh, I decided to look it full in the face. It’s an unsavory topic, and an unwelcome one. But its importance to me at least, was to illustrate the utter depravity of the Catholic Church, which is not a church. It is a den of perversion and evil, from moral to spiritual. Partnering with the RCC in any way taints a Christian utterly. Yet I had to force myself to remember the horror of sin in all of us is worthy of hell, and my own sin would have launched me there unless the Lord had elected me to salvation.

Spotlight is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Its relevance increases day by day as more information comes out about Pittsburgh. As a Christian, I think Spotlight is a must-see.

On Netflix.

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Book Review: Memoirs of a Medieval Woman (Margery Kempe)

In doing my New Year reading challenge, my first book was one called Memoirs of a Medieval Woman, written by historian Louise Collis.

The medieval woman in question was Margery Kempe. Margery was born around 1373 and died sometime after 1438. She was a wife, daughter of a noted mayor, then a mystic, pilgrim, and finally, through her autobiography which she dictated, a commenter on medieval mores and religion. She had become a Catholic Mystic during the time of the rise of Wycliffe and his followers, the Lollards. She was a contemporary of another noted female mystic, Julian of Norwich.

The Freelance History Writer has a synopsis of the book at
her page here

Hers is an interesting book on socioeconomic, cultural, and religious insights. The Book of Margery Kempe is considered to the first autobiography in the English language. It’s also written in middle English and is nearly incomprehensible.

That’s where Collis comes in. She writes about Margery in her book Memoirs of a Medieval Woman, and uses a healthy sprinkling of Margery’s original words, but fills in the background with historical contexts and explanations. Collis never intrudes on Margery’s voice, but Collis’ writing enhances the contextual picture we get of Margery as she goes about her extraordinary life during a turbulent political and religious time.

Though there are many aspects from which we can jump off in delving into Margery’s life, I was struck by the religious contexts. Margery lived in The Late Middle Ages (c. 1301–1500). Wikipedia synopsizes the period thus,

Around 1300, centuries of prosperity and growth in Europe came to a halt. A series of famines and plagues, including the Great Famine of 1315–1317 and the Black Death, reduced the population to around half of what it was before the calamities. Along with depopulation came social unrest and endemic warfare. France and England experienced serious peasant uprisings, such as the Jacquerie and the Peasants’ Revolt, as well as over a century of intermittent conflict in the Hundred Years’ War. To add to the many problems of the period, the unity of the Catholic Church was shattered by the Western Schism. Collectively these events are sometimes called the Crisis of the Late Middle Ages.

Frustration with the Roman Catholic Church, empty pocketbooks, demands for excessive tithes and indulgences to Rome, the rise of the Lollards (Wycliffe followers), the Church’s reaction by burning them at the stake, the Council of Constance, all formed the dominating religious landscape in which Margery lived.

As for the Council of Constance, this was a pivotal moment in Catholic church history. Jan Hus was a forerunner to Wycliffe and both men are considered the first, early reformers of the Church prior to Martin Luther. Hus had preached against the excesses of Rome and had used Wycliffe’s writings from the pulpit. These incendiary preachings came at a time during Margery’s life when the great Papal schism occurred. There were three popes at one time and the church was under heavy attack, splintered and staggering under its corruption and lack of direction. The Council of Constance was the RCC’s answer to this attack on its power. Remember, the Roman Catholic Church was a governmental authority, not just ecclesiastical. Kings and Popes were in league.

The Council of Constance is the 15th century ecumenical council recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418. The council ended the Western Schism, by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining papal claimants and electing Pope Martin V.  The Council also condemned Jan Hus as a heretic and facilitated his execution by the civil authority. source

Against that backdrop, we read in Collis’ book some reasons why Mystics had become so popular,

The king used the church as a way of paying the civil service. As [ecclesiastical] incumbents were often ambassadors, ministers, or secretaries, deputies had to be found to look after the souls theoretically in their care. Perhaps, in some cases, the deputies were good and conscientious servants, but such a system made the church seem even more distant, wrapped away in a huge organization, far from everyday needs. 

Under these circumstances, the late medieval mystics on the one hand, and the Lollards on the other, became very popular. They brought God close to the individual. One could communicate with Him directly. He would listen to one’s troubles in a sympathetic manner. Advice could be obtained, the tedious and often incomprehensible rituals of the church could be by-passed. Private devotions became a habit amongst many of the new middle class, to which Margery belonged. Such people were accustomed to rely on their own judgment in the business world. 

There had always been a place in the church for the hermit or anchorite. [Anchorites remained in their cells, studying and praying. They spoke only through a window. Hermits came out to preach and were often responsible for the upkeep of a bridge or a piece of road.] Anyone could apply to be enclosed. Their prayers brought them near to God. Sometimes they could foretell the future, or heal diseases. They could guide their disciples toward those visions which were a foretaste of paradise. Their doctrine was personal and emotional. One must adore God  with all the strength of one’s being and meditate steadily on the Passion, that example of Christ’s love of man. By means of assiduous prayer, fasting and contemplation, some reached a stage where they heard strange melodies played, as it were, in heaven by the angels. Others felt an extraordinary warmth, as of divine fire, suffuse them. Others wept uncontrollably. 

A few, who were capable of further progress, despised these outward symptoms as mere irrelevance. For God had whispered to them in words they tried afterwards to understand and never quite explained. They only knew they had somehow stumbled on a transcendent happiness. [pp. 24-25]

If the descriptions of the Mystics’ experiences of hearing voices & whispers, singing, and feeling a warmth running through their body sound familiar, it is because the modern day mystics such as Sarah Young (author of Jesus Calling) et al have said they experienced those exact things too. Satan does not vary his schemes, though a solid Christian is aware of them. (2 Corinthians 2:11).

The RCC had become so remote and distant, so cold and demanding, so corrupt and perverse, that the people didn’t equate the Church with divine solace or a relationship with Jesus at all. They still desired a personal relationship with God, though, because it is in man to worship…something. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

In Collis’ explanation of the people’s medieval search for God, we read there were those who were interested in Wycliffe’s approach, and there were those who were Mystics or who followed Mystics. As the Bible says, there are the two paths, one leading to perdition and punishment, and the other to Jesus and eternal peace. We can see how the Lord prepared the ground to receive Wycliffe and Hus’ appeals to read the Bible directly in order to know God. We can also see why Mystics (and anchorites and hermits) had become so popular. They filled the roles of fellowship and wisdom the people needed, as wrong-headed as these all were. The Mystics offered a personal religion so different from the incomprehensible rituals and coldness of the Church. It’s no wonder people were drawn to them.

In Margery’s case, pride and vanity had been her besetting sins prior to her demonically led mystical life. In her book she at times mused that she hoped she would become more famous than Julian of Norwich or as well-regarded as a Mystic who had lived in an earlier time, Bridgit of Sweden. She was obsessed with accumulating relics. Relics were the religious items sold at holy sites which purported to be, for example, a splinter from the true cross, John the Baptist’s true finger, a brick from the true home in which Mary lied, Jesus’ actual blood, and so on.

Margery exuded enough holiness to the authorities to have received their blessing and support. She was tried several times for heresy but always found innocent. However, the lay-people were split. Some said she was demon-possessed, others admired her seeming sincerity. And she was sincere, but sincerely misguided. Her fits of crying and constant blunt exhortations to all hearers to straighten up their lives and live right, grated. She was evicted from her traveling group on pilgrimage many times yet these evictions never altered her unteachable spirit to become more introspective.

The Lollards on the other hand were well-regarded by the people. They preached the word, lived simply and honestly, and went about on the true pilgrimage with all love and appeals to win people to Christ. Margery Kempe was definitely a force to be reckoned with. She was loud, noisy, rebellious to the true Christ, intrepid, fearless, and most likely totally shocked when she died at a healthy old age (unusual for medieval times) and faced the true Christ.

Aside from learning of the ripe ground onto which Wycliffe and Hus’ blood spilled in their effort to bring God’s word to the people, I learned just how persevering the devil is in getting someone to believe they are truly saved and then gets them to move mountains. Margery was an anti-Lydia, and anti-Dorcas. She accomplished much for satan’s kingdom, turning the lives of all she encountered upside down. If we who have the Spirit in us were half as single-minded and dedicated to the true cause as Margery was to her false cause, we would all turn our worlds upside down.

Memoirs of a Medieval Woman: recommended