Douglas mentioned the other day in one of his comments that Larry Grieder, a minister in the new splinter COG cult - Church of God, A Worldwide Association, has recently been promoting the lie that the Waldenses were Sabbath keepers..
Armstrongism, like Adventism look at one phrase associated with the Waldenses and promptly think it means they were Sabbatarians: "insabbati" One little word is what SDA's and Armstrongism base their bold claims upon. The real definition is towards the end of this post below and it is NOT what you think.
This myth has been floating around the COG for decades. The main culprit in promoting this lie was Dean Blackwell and Herman Hoeh.
Any quick check through the Internet can list a myriad of articles all stating that the Waldenses were NOT sabbatarians. The Waldenses started as a reform movement in the Catholic Church and later got wrapped up in Calvinism. There are Waldenses here in the United States who will also tell you that they are NOT sabbatarians. The Waldenses here eventually joined up with the US Presbyterian Church.
Armstrongism bought into this myth because of our close ties to Adventism. Elllen G White was the first to broach the Waldenses topic and their supposed sabbatarianism. Because she was a "prophet," many took her rantings as "gospel truth" much like the people in Armstrongism did when HWA, Meredith or others proclaimed some new truth.
Ellen G. White, founder of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination in the 19th century, in a more fanciful account, claims to have found early seventh-day "Sabbath keepers" in the Waldenses :
There is also a letter from the Waldenses Church in Italy who refute the claim by SDA's that they were sabbath keepers:"In lands beyond the jurisdiction of Rome there existed for many centuries bodies of Christians who remained almost wholly free from papal corruption. They were surrounded by heathenism and in the lapse of ages were affected by its errors; but they continued to regard the Bible as the only rule of faith and adhered to many of its truths. These Christians believed in the perpetuity of the law of God and observed the sabbath of the fourth commandment....But of those who resisted the encroachments of the papal power, the Waldenses stood foremost....The faith which for centuries was held and taught by the Waldensian Christians was in marked contrast to the false doctrines put forth from Rome....Through ages of darkness and apostasy there were Waldenses who denied the supremacy of Rome, who rejected image worship as idolatry, and who kept the true Sabbath...Here, for a thousand years, witnesses for the truth maintained the ancient faith." (The Great Controversy, chapter on "The Waldenses", emphasis mine)
Therefore, the Waldensians did not keep the Sabbath (in the sense of Saturday instead of Sunday) and were not guardians of the "Sabbath Truth” as somebody calls it. The Waldensians never followed the Seventh-day Adventist’s Sabbath but they followed more Paul in Romans 14,5-8.
Even Samuel Bacchiocchi, the SDA "scholar" and Armstrongism's favorite "go to person" for Sabbatarian info, was not able to find anything.We can therefore say very clearly that the Waldensians were not Seventh-day Sabbath keepers and they were not persecuted for keeping Saturday as the Sabbath! Thy were persecuted, [from 1532 (when they joined the Reformation - Angrogna Synod) to 1848 (when they received religious freedom)], because of their Reformed-Calvinistic faith in Christ.
Jared Oler (former COG member) writes this:Dr. Bacchiocchi has probably done more research on the Sabbath than any living human. Did he find evidence that some of the Waldenses observed the Sabbath?
"I spent several hours searching for an answer in the two scholarly volumes Storia dei Valdesi--(History of the Waldenses), authored by Amedeo Molnar and Augusto Hugon. These two books were published in 1974 by the Claudiana, which is the official Italian Waldensian publishing house. They are regarded as the most comprehensive history of the Waldenses. To my regret I found no allusion whatsoever to Sabbathkeeping among the Waldenses."Dr. Bacchiocchi is not the first Adventist to search in vain for evidence of the Waldenses keeping the Sabbath. The only thing researchers have found thus far are some documents which refer to the Waldenses by their nickname, "insabbati." Unfortunately for Mrs. White, the term has nothing to do with the Sabbath. It refers to the sandals the Waldenses were known to wear. The Latin word for sandals is sabbatum. Thus, the Waldenses were insabbati--"sandal wearers."
But the Seventh-Day Adventists were not alone in claiming the Waldenses as spiritual and historical antecedents. That same view of the Waldenses is widespread in the publications of the Sabbatarian movement. Here is the way the WCG characterised the Waldenses in their Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, Lesson 51, published in 1968:
``The Waldenses recognized that they were the true successors of the apostolic church. They kept the Sabbath, also the yearly Passover. And each September or October (in God's seventh month-see Lev. 23), they held at the headquarters church a great `conference.' As many as 700 persons attended from afar. New students were chosen, ministerial assignments were made, and crowds gathered daily to listen to sermons. What could this gathering have been but the Feast of Tabernacles! . . . But in 1194, Alphonse, king of Aragon, Barcelona and Provence decreed these `Waldenses, Zapatati or Inzabbati [keepers of God's Sabbath] who otherwise are called the Poor Men of Lyons' worthy of any punishment short of death or mutilation.'' (ACBCC p.11)
In this account, the Waldenses were presented not only as Seventh-Day Sabbatarians, but as observers of the seven annual holy days of the Hebrew calendar-not coincidentally, just like the pre-1995 WCG. It is also probably not a coincidence that this account describes the life and activities of Peter Waldo, founder of the Waldenses, in terms remarkably similar to the way the WCG was formerly wont to describe itself and its founder, former businessman Herbert W. Armstrong:
Jared writes further on:``Then Christ acted. The man He chose to become His apostle was a wealthy merchant in Lyons, . . . Christ saw by his actions that Waldo was in earnest. His mind began to be opened to the truth that had formerly meant nothing to him . . . Waldo brought the same practical common sense that had made him successful as a businessman to the organization and Work of the Church. He had the education and experience which so few in God's Church had (I Cor. 1:26). Jesus Christ probably guided that experience, unknown to Waldo, long before his conversion. As he preached, others united themselves and their efforts to his. They became, as it is said, `as many co-workers for him.' They dedicated their lives and their property to the spread of Christ's gospel. This little group became known as the `Poor Men of Lyons.' But that was not the name of the Church. They called themselves the Church of God, or simply Christians.'' (ACBCC p.6)
Armstrongism, like the Adventist's use this claim to establish their legitimacy in their so-called "right of succession" for maintaining the "truth once delivered." Both are made illegitimate with their claims:Furthermore, although the WCG once tried to identify the Waldenses as observers of the annual holy days of Leviticus 23, there is even less reason to link them to such customs than there is to link them to Seventh-Day Sabbatarianism. True to their Catholic origins, the Waldenses celebrated Easter or Pascha-``Passover''-but they were not in any way Quartodecimans. Their Paschal festival was not timed to start on the 14th day of the first month of the Hebrew sacred calendar, but instead simply followed the Catholic Church's calculation. As for the annual Waldensian conference in September and October, far from an attempt to celebrate the autumnal Feast of Tabernacles, its timing resulted from the fact that certain Catholic feasts and saints' days especially loved by the Waldenses happened to fall in the autumn.
Apparently Mrs. White wanted to have a line of unbroken Sabbath-keeping, from the time of the Apostles, to the Waldenses in the mountains of Europe, all the way through to the time of the Seventh-day Adventists. Unfortunately, such a continuum does not exist. Sunday-keeping began much earlier than Mrs. White realized, and the Waldenses never kept the Sabbath at all.
Another inaccurate statement Mrs. White made about the Waldenses is:
"Behind the lofty bulwarks of the mountains . .. the Waldenses found a hiding place. Here the light of truth was kept burning amid the darkness of the Middle Ages. Here for a thousand years, witnesses for the truth maintained the ancient faith." (pp. 65-66)The Waldensian movement was established by Peter Valdes around 1176. The Waldenses were not excommunicated from the church until 1184. Therefore, the move to the mountains could not have taken place until after 1184, and the persecution of the Waldenses had subsided by the late 1600s. Therefore, it would be impossible for the Waldenses to have kept the light of truth burning for "a thousand years" during the Middle Ages. 500 years is a more likely number.
For more information:
Who Were the Waldenses? Early Evangelicals?
Letter From Waldenses Church stating that they are NOT Sabbath Keepers
Great Controversy Errors Exposed
The Early Waldenses
Adventist Media Response and Conversation: Waldenses and the Seventh day Sabbath and Adventists