Chapter 47

Student: I do not wish at this time to hear further arguments in support of the stated position, since it seems probable enough that if preachers and doctors were of one mind they would be bound to unanimously condemn the false doctrine of the pope. But if the multitude of preachers and doctors or masters were to agree with a heretic pope, show him favour, or not resist him, is it really possible that a remaining few would be obligated to oppose the pope's erroneous doctrine.

Master: There are some who say that if a few preachers and doctors maintained their commitment to orthodox doctrine, while the entire remaining multitude provided consent and favour to a heretic pope, those few would have the duty to resist him by appropriate means with all their strength. Indeed if but a single doctor remained firm in the faith, he would be obligated to attack fearlessly the false doctrine of a heretic pope, following the example of the prophet Elijah, who, although he believed himself to be the sole remaining faithful prophet of God [1 Kings 18:22], did not swerve from the true faith, but spoke out against heretics and apostates with utmost consistency when he had the opportunity to do so. And consequently if some prelate with a few preachers and doctors subject to him had in no way given his consent to a heretic pope while the entire remaining multitude supported the heretic pope's errors, those few preachers and doctors along with their prelate should oppose all the more strongly the false doctrine of the pope. And this prelate should utter, along with Mathathias, the following words of 1 Maccabees 2: "even if all people should obey king Antiochus" (that is to say the heretic pope) "so that everyone would abandon the tradition of their fathers and consent to the orders of the king, I, and my sons, and my brothers, will continue to obey the law of our fathers. May God be favourable to us. We do not deem it useful for us to abandon the law and the justices of God. We will not listen to the words of king Antiochus" (i.e. of the heretic pope) "we will not offer sacrifice, and will not break the commands of our law so as to adopt another path"[1 Maccabees 2:19-22].

Student: It appears that if a few were to resist to the whole remaining multitude of Christians, they would be labouring in vain. Therefore they should in no way attempt to do this.

Master: The answer is that these few ought not to despair of gaining victory. Indeed even a single individual must hope to be victorious, because (we have this in 1 Maccabees 3): "there is no difference in the perspective of the God of heaven to effect liberation through many or through few, since victory in war does not depend on the army's numbers, and strength comes from heaven"[1 Maccabees 3:18-19]. And in 1 Kings 14 we have this: "for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few" [1 Samuel 14:6]. And in 2 Chronicles 14 we have this: "Lord it is nothing with Thee to help, whether with many or with them that have no power"[2 Chronicles 14:11]. It is evident from this that if a few wage war against a heretic pope while the whole remaining multitude wrongly supports him, they ought not to despair of victory, for such a war is not their war but the war of the Lord, and He is Truth whose truth defeats all. Therefore let them confidently struggle for truth unto death [Ecclesiasticus 4:33], and God will destroy their enemies for them.