Desiderius Erasmus, a contemporary of Martin Luther, was known as the
most learned scholar of his day. He was a professor at Cambridge and
lectured at various universities as the world's foremost authority on
Greek and the Greek New Testament text. Through his knowledge of the
scriptures and own experience, Erasmus witnessed how Rome had corrupted
Christ's doctrines completely. He wrote extensively to decry Rome's
dogmas and expose her extortions. His witness is preserved to us today
in his books and private letters. The following quotes form a small sampling of Erasmus' quotes.
Erasmus exposed Rome:
"The corruption… [and] the
degeneracy of the Holy See are universally admitted…" (Froude, J.A.,
The Life and Letters of Erasmus, p. 284).
"[T]he Catholics, instead of
repenting of their sins, pile superstition on superstition…" (p. 374).
"They pretend to resemble the
Apostles, and they are filthy, ignorant, impudent vagabonds…[T]hey
quarrel with each other and curse each other. They pretend to poverty,
but they steal into honest men's houses and pollute them, and wasps as
they are, no one dares refuse them admittance for fear of their
stings." --Erasmus in Moria.
Erasmus exposed the monastical orders:
After graduating from school
as a child, Erasmus wanted to attend university. However, his guardians
sought to obtain his inheritance and forced him to join a monastery,
where he took the vows of a monk. Erasmus later exposed the corruptions
of the monastery orders:
"You know that I was forced
into it by interested guardians….My profession was a mistake." (Froude,
J.A., The Life and Letters of Erasmus, p. 170).
"…Boys and girls, however, who
have been tempted into religious houses ought to be set free, as having
been taken in by fraud" (p. 340).
"A monk's holy obedience…
consists in—what? In leading an honest, chaste, and sober life? Not the
least. In acquiring learning, in study, and industry? Still less. A
monk may be a glutton, a drunkard, a whoremonger, an ignorant, stupid,
malignant, envious brute, but he has broken no vow, he is within his
holy obedience. He has only to be the slave of a superior as good for
nothing as himself, and he is an excellent brother" (Froude, J.A.,
Short Studies, vol. I, p. 77).
"The aim of the monks is not
to benefit men's souls but to gather harvests out of their purses,
learn their secrets, rule their houses… The religious orders nowadays
care only for money and sensuality… The tables of priests and divines
run with wine and echo with drunken noise and scurrilous jest…"(Froude,
J.A., The Life and Letters of Erasmus, p. 360).
Erasmus urged the clergy to repent and read the scriptures:
"I told parsons [clergymen] to
leave their wranglings and read the Bible… I told popes and cardinals
to look at the Apostles, and make themselves more like to them"
(Froude, J.A., Short Studies, vol. I, p. 134).
"I advised divines to leave
scholastic subtleties and study Scriptures… I wish there could be an
end of scholastic subtleties, or, if not an end, that they could be
thrust into a second place, and Christ be taught plainly and simply.
The reading of the Bible… will have this effect. Doctrines are taught
now which have affinity with Christ and only darken our eyes" (Froude,
J.A., The Life and Letters, pp. 356).
Two of Erasmus' books,
Enchiridion and Praise of Folly, were satires attacking Rome's
Consequently, Pope Paul IV
added these books, along with the rest of Erasmus' works, to the
Index Librorum Prohibitorum, Rome's index of forbidden books, in 1559.
Erasmus wanted the Word of God in the hands of the common man:
Erasmus sought to have the
scriptures open to every man and woman in their native tongue, and his
scholarship played a vital role in the Protestant Reformation. Using
his access to Catholic libraries, Erasmus traveled from city to city
across France, Germany, and Switzerland to compare Greek New Testament
manuscripts, many of which no longer exist. After many years of
preparation, study, and research, in 1516, Erasmus published in printed
form the Greek received text (Textus Receptus) which the translators of
the King James Bible consulted. This Greek text agrees with greater
than 99% of extant (available) manuscript evidence.
"I would have the weakest
woman read the Gospels and Epistles of St. Paul… I would have those
words translated into all languages, so that not only Scots and
Irishmen, but Turks and Saracens might read them. I long for the
plowboy to sing them to himself as he follows the plow, the weaver to
hum them to the tune of his shuttle, the traveler to beguile with them
the dullness of his journey… Other studies we may regret having
undertaken, but happy is the man upon whom death comes when he is
engaged in these. These sacred words give you the very image of Christ
speaking, healing, dying, rising again, and make him so present, that
were he before your very eyes you would not more truly see him" (Durant,
W., The Reformation, p. 285).
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Keywords: Desiderius Erasmus quotes about the Roman Catholic "Church"