538-1798 IS NOT THE 1260
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
October 26, 2018
The Seventh-day Adventist Church teaches that the 1260-day prophecies of Daniel and Revelation refer to the
years 538 to 1798. Those years covered the livesreign of approximately 190 so-called popes and as
many as 50 often equally qualified “antipopes.” which often had better credentials. Since
the great accomplishments of these men hhave been acclaimed by both Roman Catholics
and Protestants for centuries, this document deliberately excludes their maccomplishments
to reveal the weaknesses and failures of the popesreigns.
The failures of these
190 popes are convincing evidence that even the “strongest” fell very short of the description of the biblical
Anti-Christ “little horn” of Daniel 7:21-25 who “shall wear out the saints of the most High”
and “they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”
My major source of these failures is Lives of the Popes (LP), by Richard McBrien, a leading Roman
Catholic historian from the University of Notre Dame. McBrien is very blunt and honest about the failures of the popes. The
literal historical facts of this article should prove beyond doubt that the Roman Catholic papacy
does not fulfill the prophecy of the biblical Anti-Christ
little horn for (the SDAs) 1260 years from 538 to 1798.
SDAS’ THREE HORNS DID
NOT COME OUT OF THE BEAST KINGDOM
SDAs teach that the three horns which were uprooted were
the Vandals, Heruli and Ostrogoths which had been uprooted to allow the papacy to “make war against” and “wear
out the saints” from 538 to 1798.
Holy Scripture states that the fourth beast (pagan Rome) “had ten horns that
were in his head” “out of this kingdom (7:20, 21) and the “other”
little horn also “came up among them” “in his head” (Dan 7:8, 20-211).
Contrary to what SDAs teach, the Vandals, Heruli and Ostrogoths were never kingdoms
of ruled by pagan Rome. None came “up out of this kingdom.” All three were Arian invaders
from outside Western Rome. Rome was ruled by Germanic Ostrogoths shortly before and after 538..
B. THE PROPHECY STATES THAT ALL TEN
HORNS WERE BEAST-RULED KINGDOMS (Daniel 7:24)
Contrary to what SDAs teach, Scripture teaches that all ten horns were already Roman-ruled kingdoms and not outsiders
(7:24). Also, since the papacy existed long before the Vandals, Heruli and Ostrogoths emerged, the SDA interpretation that
the little horn came up among them does not match history. This interpretation is There were no
“10 kingdoms” of Rome around 538; Western Rome ceased to exist in 476.
C. THE SDA’s THREE HORNS WERE NOT UPROOTED (DESTROYED)
(IDENTIITY OF THE THREE HORNS (Daniel
SDAs teach that the papacy was directly responsible for destroying (plucking up by the roots) the Vandals,
Heruli and Vandals (Dan 7:8, 20).
Holy Scripture says that the three horns were “plucked up by the root” (7:8).
This means that they were destroyed and not merely pushed out.
Again, history disagrees with the SDA version. First,
the Arian Heruli were defeated in 508 by Arian Lombards who were enemies of the papacy. Instead of being destroyed (plucked
up), the Heruli migrated back to Scandinavia. Second, the Vandals who had sacked Rome in 455 and had settled
in north Africa were not a hindrance to papal of Christians in 538. The Vandals had
been defeated in Africa in 534 when the Eastern Roman Empire regained its territory in North Africa. The
Vandals were not “plucked up by the roots” because of the papal little horn. Instead they were conquered
by Eastern Emperor Justinian in 534 because he was reconquering lost territory for the Eastern Greek Church. Third,
the Ostrogoths do not fit the prophecy either. Though momentarily defeated in north Italy in 538 by the Eastern Empire, they
returned to besiege Rome again in 546, 549 and 550. Pope Vigilius (538-555) was powerless and never began “wearing out
the saints” (7:25). Instead of being “plucked up by the roots,” the Ostrogoths were slowly absorbed by the
Arian Lombards who ruled much of Italy for centuries after 568.
In reality there were many more non-Catholic “horns” sweeping across Western Europe which prevented
the Roman Catholic Church from “making war” and “prevailing” – such as the Visigoths, Lombards,
Normans, Danes and Saracens.
D. THE SDA’S
IDENTITY OF THE SAINTS DOES NOT FULFILL THEIR
1260-YEAR PERIOD OF PERSECUTION (Daniel 7:25)
The SDA church teaches that the “saints”
of Daniel 7 were orthodox Christians and not Jews, pagans or Muslims. .
Holy Scripture says that the little
horn The prophecy says that the little horn ““made war with the saints and prevailed
against them” (Dan 7:21), “He “and he shall
speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High” ,
and think to change times and laws:… and “they shall be given into his
hand until a time and times and the dividing of time” (Dan 7:21, 25).
There are numerous problems with the SDA interpretation.
First, the SDA interpretation
of “saints” could not refer to the papacy killing fellow
Christians because to whom does “saints of the Most High” refer? tThere
was no organized Christian resistance to the Roman Catholic Church almost 600 years after 538. SDA prophetic interpretation
errs because the papacy very definitely did not begin punishing non-Christians for their faith in 538. Although
it was responsible for killing fellow Christians in Constantinople in 1204, murdered
Albigensians in 1209Inquisition would not begin in France and
Waldensians in 1527, 666 of the 1260 years had passed before these persecutions
Second, the SDA interpretation of “saints” cannot refer to the papacy killing Jews for 1260 years. Although it did persecute Jews since 250, it first massacred Jews at Orleans, France
in 1009 --- 471 years after
the 1260-year period began. Afterwards, Jews have been massacred over 20 time during the next 800 years. Although Jews best fit the “saints”
of Daniel 7:25,
SDAs do not include Jews
in the prophecy.
If the “saints” are true Christians inside the Western Roman Catholic Church, “made
war with the saints” does not make sense because, from 538 until l146, there was no “war” against
fellow Catholic Christians. The first 600 years of the prophecy would be wrong, plus many failed Crusades were against Muslim
Second, if the “saints”
are true believers from the Eastern Greek Orthodox faith attacked by Crusaders from 1, the SDA interpretation
must be wrong for several reasons: t,thave doctrines Third, Third, if “saints”
refers to the Albigenses of 1202 or the Waldensians from 1215 to the present, the SDA interpretation makes no sense. (1) While
it is true that secular Roman Catholic powers “made war with them and prevailed against them” following no war
against the saints for 600 years, that is still far from 1260 years. (2) Designating the Albigenses or Waldensians as the
“saints” of Daniel 7:25 would be conceding that they were the true Christians with correct doctrines. (3) Waldensians
were not “uprooted” and still exist as Reformed Protestants.
Fourth, if “saints” cannot refers to the Peasant
War which killed many dissidents between 1521 and 1525 because , the SDA interpretation
is wrong because CCatholics and Protestants joined forces to kill those dissenters. Such would also
be a concession that the saints were the true Christian peasants.
Fourth, if “saints” cannot refers to the Protestant
Reformation , (1) the SDA prophecy is wrong because the papacy lost that battle
and much of Europe long before their 1260 years ended in 1798. (2) It would be conceding that the Protestant
Reformation contained true saints with correct doctrines. (3) 1260 years is a small part of the Protestant Reformation. TThe
total time of the Roman Catholic’s strongest popes “wearing out the saintsprevailing war”
only lasted about 100 of the 1260 years. Even then the papacy often aligned itself with Protestants against fellow Catholics.
Fifth, perhaps the greatest SDA error
in defining “saints” as Christians who were persecuted from 538 to 1798 is their
use of Revelation 12:17 and 19:10 to define the “saints” as themselves, the true remnant church which “keeps
the commandments of God and has the testimony of Jesus” “which is the spirit of prophecy”—that is,
Ellen G White. It is contradictory to call non-Sabbath-keepers “saints” from 538 to 1798 and apostate false “daughters
of the Babylon” afterwards. Their weak attempts to connect Sabbath-keeping to small short-lived groups
fails to fit the description of saints in Daniel 7:25.
Sixth, most historicists
teach that the 3 ½ times, 42 months and 1260 prophetic years ended at the second coming of Christ. They began the 1260
years with the beast already having the healed deadly wound of Revelation 13:1-8.
SDAs do not fully follow the historicist formula. They end the
1260 years in 1798 and explain 1844, their own existence and last-day events as a resurgent more powerful last-day papacy
SDA interpretation cannot be proven from Scripture. All texts which discuss the final 1260 days end with the establishment
of the Kingdom of Heaven. None allow for the SDA extension beyond the end of the period. Compare Daniel 7:25; 9:26-27; 12:1-7,
11-12; Revelation 12:6, 14 and 13:5.
When SDAs focus on the “think to change times and laws” of Daniel 7:25 and ignore
the “3 ½ times” part of the prophecy, the t. They fail to define
“saints” correctly and they especially fail to explain why the vast majority of the 1260 years revealed weak popes
who could seldom “wear out the (non-sabbath-keeping) saints”
. SECULAR F.
RULERS ALMOST ALWAYS HAD VETO AUTHORITY
OVER THE PAPAL ELECTIONS
I encourage those sincerely interested to read Lives
of the Popes, by Roman Catholic historian Richard P. McBrien. For most of the “1260 years” aAlmost
all of them were required to swear allegiance to a political protector whether such was an emperor, king, duke or local ruler.
It is impossible to convince others that you are the most powerful authority on earth when your own election
must be approved by othersrulers. This rule was enforced from Roman Emperor Constantine the Great
(312), to Eastern Emperor Justinian (538), to the king of France in (712), to the Holy Roman Emperor of France (800), to German
Emperor Otto (912) and even to German Henry IV after he had been embarrassed (1081). As nations emerged, veto power of the
pope’s election was extended to almost every ruling Christian king. Since they often vetoed another’s
king’s choice, wselectioneak compromise popes were
of popes were chosen rather than elected. Even after cardinals were created to elect the popes, rulers often chose the popes
by choosing the cardinals.
For several hundred years the ruling families of the Roman Senate chose the pope – rulerssolely
for financial gain. The senatorial families were – Theophylact (904+),
Alberic II (936+), Crescenti (973+), Tusculan (1012+), Orsini (1191, 1277, 1724); Medici (1513-1610).
Several popes even turned the Vatical into a brothel: John XII (055-964) and Alexander VI (1492-1503).
LAY INVESTITURE KEPT SECULAR RULERS IN CHARGE OF THE PAPACY
Lay investiture is the right and ability of secular rulers
to appoint church leaders such as bishops and even some popes. It is also impossible to convince others that
you are the most powerful authority on earth as long as (1) rulers appoint your church leaders, (2) nations are completely
independent from you (such as France and Spain) and (3) you are not living in Rome and are hiding in exile because the people
riot against you. Read the list and check off how very often this occurred.
Even after declaring the investiture issue settled
in 1121 (583
years after 538), little changed because the declaration had been made during a power vacuum when
because the German Emperor was a child. Read
the list. Almost every time the pope offended a ruler, that ruler re-imposed his own
authority to appoint church leaders. the
matter was declared “settled” in 1121. However,
the French, who almost always kept lay investiture rights, reasserted its independence in 1141, 1513, 1655, 1667, 1676 and 1691. The Germans regained lay investiture
(on and off) in 1185, 1187, 1191, 1225 and 1352. The English regained it temporarily in 1189 and 1335.
And the Spanish (who had been ruled by Muslims for 800 years since 700) reasserted their independence and
lay investiture authority in 1566, 1700, 1769 and 1776.
HINDERED THE POWER OF THE PAPACY
From 538 to 1798 there were approximately 50 other “popes,” or “antipopes,”
claiming the same authority over the whole church. Though designated as “antipopes,” many had far better
credentials and more authority than those accepted by the Catholic Church as authentic. The Church often revises
its list and moves some from one category to the other. Often from 2-4 popes claimed the chair of
Peter and reigned in Rome at the same time. Angered emperors, kings and rulers of the Rome often “deposed” and
replaced offending popes with one favorable to themselves. Read the list and discover the dDisharmony
caused by competing popes seriously weakened the papacy. This description of the SDA “little horn”
of Daniel 7:21-25 is definitely omitted by SDAs because it proves their interpretation to be false.
Years when “Antipopes,”
or two or more popes existed at the same time in:
687, 687 (3), 767, 768 (2), 795, 844, 855, 867, 903-904, 914, 955, 964, 974, 984-985, 997, 998,
1012, 1032, 1058-1059, 1061-1064, 1073, 1080, 1084-1100, 1100, 1100, 1101 (2), 1105-1111, 1118-1121, 1124, 1130-1137, 1138
(2), 1159-1163, 1164 (2), 1165-1167, 1168 (2) 1169-1178, 1179-1180, 1328-1330, 1378-1393, 1394 (2), 1395-1417, 1409, 1410-1415,
1423-1428, 1429-30, and , 1439-1449.
POPES FROM 538 TO 1798
Gregory I (590-604) is called “the Great” because of all the laws, theology and ritual he introduced.
Of the 190 popes between 538 and 1798, he is the only one classified as “outstanding.” He was chosen by the Eastern
Emperor and swore allegiance to him. He bribed the Lombards to stop one siege and died from gout during famine from a second
siege. He never left Rome as its pope. He was eventually forced out of office by angry Roman citizens.
Gregory VII (1073-1081)
is considered extremely strong because he forced Emperor Henry IV to repent at his feet in 1077 and give up lay investiture.
In reality Henry IV was fighting a civil war for the crown and did not need excommunication or an interdict from the pope.
However, after the war had been won over the papacy’s choice, in 1081 Henry IV marched into Rome and replaced
Gregory VII with “antipope” Clement III. Lay investiture was also rregained. The
Roman people forced Gregory VII to leave and he died in exile.
Urban II (1089-1099) (French) is considered a strong pope because of the successful First Crusade (1096-1099).
In reality (1) he yielded to pressure and allowed lay investiture to entice kings to send crusaders. (2) German Emperor Henry
IV temporarily replaced him with “antipope” Clement III in 1087 who stayed in Rome until 1100. (3) Henry IV forced
him out of Rome again from 1090-1094 and (4) the rulers of Germany, England, France, Spain and Sicily were able to ignore
at will the papacy’s reformist regulations, including lay investiture.
Innocent III (1198-1216) is considered the summit of the medieval papacy. He claimed authority “over
the whole world” (LP). He replaced Emperor Otto IV with Frederic of Sicily and excommunicated King John of England.
He succeeded in the Second Lateran Council of 1215. He also persecuted Albigensians. However, as strong as Innocent III was,
his 18 years of supremacy does not fit 1260. Oddly, McBrien does not list him as a good pope.
THE MYTH OF MAKING WAR WITH AND PREVAILING AGAINST THE SAINTS FOR
1260 YEARS FROM 538 TO 1798
Again, the prophecy says that
the little horn “made war with the saints and prevailed against them” (Dan 7:21). “He shall wear out the
saints of the most High” (Dan 7:25) “and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing
of time” (Dan 7:25).
SDAs interpret these two texts (Daniel 7:21, 25) to mean the papacy would “make war with
and prevail against” true Christians for 1260 years – from 538 to 1798.
“Until the Ancient of
days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom”
(Dan 7:22). “Until” indicates that the 1260 period would end when judgment is given to the saints and when the
saints inhabit the kingdom of God. This appears to be the end of the 1260 period in Revelation also (Rev 11:1-2; 12:6). This
severely muddles the SDA explanation because they interpret “judgment” here to mean 1844. However, they do teach
that the Investigative Judgment ends immediately before the Second Coming. Therefore, if the 1260 period reaches either to
1844 or the Second Coming, it is not 1260 years.
MANY POPES WERE IMPRISONED, BEATEN, EXILED OR KILLED
Contrary to the description of the powerful little
horn of Daniel 7:21-25, the pope was personally imprisoned, beaten and/or killed at least 13 times
from 538-1798. This fact alone should disprove the SDA interpretation of the little horn.
Imprisoned or killed:
538, 795, 872, 884, 896, 897, 898, 903, 904, 914, 939, 983, 1124.
J. SAINTS FIGHTING SAINTS
than “making war against the saints” and “wearing out the saints,” the papacy was very often responsible
for causing the “saints” to fight each other.
The following is an
incomplete list of the years in which popes were directly involved in war between Roman Catholic countries: 1049-54, 1185
(2), 1198, 1285, 1471, 1492, 1503, 1523, 1550, 1555, 1572, 1618-1648, 1679.
K. ROME, THE PAPAL STATES AND
ITALY WERE OFTEN
BESIEGED, OCCUPIED AND PLUNDERED.
This happened at least 60 times between 538 and 1798
by at least 18 kingdoms covering every decade. Rome was difficult to protect and was easy prey to Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Lombards,
Normans, Saracens and others. Also, whenever the pope disobeyed a ruler or tried to impose their authority, the result was
usually a march to plunder Rome, the Papal States, or Italy itself. Again, this is not the description of the biblical little
horn persecuting the saints.
538 (O), 546 (O), 549-550 (O)
561 (L), 575 (L), 579
(L), 590 (L), 604 (L), 640 (E), 715 (L&E), 731 (L), 757 (L), 844 (F), 858 (F), 867 (DS), 872 (SA&F), 885 (DS), 955
(KI), 963 (GG), 964 (G), 965 (G), 973 (G), 974 (G), 985 (G), 1058 (DL), 1061 (G), 1071 (DL), 1081 (G) 1087 (N),
1087 (G&T), 1090 (G), 1143 (N), 1145 (G), 1154 (G), 1185 (G), 1191 (G), 1227 (G), 1239 (G), 1254 (SI), 1266 (F), 1281
(SG), 1304-1378 (F), 1378 (G), 1378-1417 (F), 1431 (RN), 1455 (S), 1471 (FL), 1484 (N), 1503 (S&EN), 1523 (G), 1559 (S),
1572 (PS), 1676 (F), 1700 (G), 1730 (RN), 1740 (A), 1758 (F), 1769 (PS), 1776 (F)
DL=Duke of Lorraine; DS=Duke of Spoleto; E=Eastern Empire; EN-England; F=France; FL=Florence; G=Germany; KI=King of Italy;
L=Lombards; N=Naples; O=Ostrogoths; PS=Papal States; RN=Roman Nobility; S=Spain; SA=Saracens; SI=Sicily; SG=Spain & Germany;
L. MANY POPES COULD NOT LIVE IN ROME OR
DID NOT LIVE IN ROME --- OFTEN FOR FEAR OF THE ROMAN PEOPLE
Far too often the Roman citizens hated the papacy and
forced the popes to live elsewhere. Many popes fled Rome, were murdered by riotous bands or were exiled after being deposed and replaced.
impotenthim This happened in at least 57 years and
37 of the 190 popes covering all 13 centuries from 538 to 1798. Read about it in Lives of the Popes by Richard P.
McBrien, a Roman Catholic historian. Again, this is far from being true of a power which the SDA interpretation
of prophecy describes as making “war with and prevailing” against the saints for 1260 years.
538, 556, 561, 590, 604, 625,
649, 708, 715, 817, 872, 884, 885, 963, 965,
984, 985, 996, 999, 1009, 1032, 1073, 1087, 1089, 1099, 1118,
1144, 1145, 1154, 1159, 1181, 1185, 1187, 1216, 1227,
1243, 1254, 1261, 1266, 1272, 1301, 1362, 1371, 1309-1376, 1378,
1404, 14, 1316, 1335, 1342, 1352, 1362, 1370, 1406, 1431, 1455,
1478, 1492, 1523, 1552, 1555, 1585, 1590, 1623, 1644, 1676, 1689, 1724.
THE PAPACY DELIBERATELY CAUSED WAR BETWEEN ITS OWN FOLLOWERS
Nowhere does the prophecy of the little horn state that he would cause his own followers (Roman Catholic
nations) to war against each other. Yet this happened at least 8 times between 528 and 1798 (.
1285, 1471, 1492, 1503, 1550, 1555, 1585, 1644).
O. THE POPES SUFFERED FROM MANY MORE FAILURES FROM 538 TO 1798.
Not included in the above lists are:
(1) Many died from famine and disease. (2) Several were condemned and/or deposed for heresy. (3) Many paid
ransom and taxes to other nations. (4) Many were murdered and one murdered an opposing pope. (5) At least two turned the Vatican
into a brothel. (6) Ruling families of Rome chose the pope for several centuries.