Did the papacy really uproot the 3 horns of Daniel 7:8,24?

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Seventh-day Adventists distort history to fit in with their false claims about the Catholic Church

Note: I have a new series discussing an alternative, biblical, interpretation of Daniel here.  Continue reading below for the evidence that Adventism is wrong.

This article was written in 1998.  Today we have far better resources available which demonstrate this point even better.  I hope, in time, to update this with additional sources.  In the mean time, the Wikipedia articles on the Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Heruli will suffice.  They support what I have to say below, and in particular the dating problem Adventists find themselves with.

Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy
Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy

I received an e-mail from an Adventist called Tony Valentino, who refused to discuss the matter any further after this, saying the following:

[Dan 7:24] The Roman Empire fell apart in 476AD. In 538AD, pagan rome gave all authority over to papal rome. which began the “Time of papal supremecy”

He followed that statement with the following:

In AD 265, the Heruli were crushingly defeated by a Roman emperor after intructions from the pope. Vandals and the Ostrogoths were also destroyed. This can easily be verified.

I pointed out to him that his statements were inconsistent – he was admitting that the papacy not only existed, but had political power as early as 265 AD, if it was indeed the pope that instructed the Roman Emperor to defeat the Heruli. That was inconsistent with his first statement, and general SDA “history”, which say that the papacy came into power in 538 AD. He backed off briefly, and then sent me a fresh file with the dates and information changed, corrected. This is what he said:

[Dan 7:24] The Roman Empire fell apart in 476AD. In 538AD, pagan rome gave all authority over to papal rome. which began the “Time of papal supremecy”. Let us note proof of this fact because of the time of its appearance. it must appear after the division of the Roman Empire. “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them;” [Daniel 7:24.] The Papacy was established in A.D. 538 when it subdued the Ostrogoths. The ten horns, or the divided kingdom, was established in A.D. 476. Thus you can see at a glance that the Papacy arose immediately after the ten kingdoms, exactly as the prophecy states, “and another shall rise after them.” NO other system or power fits in here besides the papacy. Not to then acknowledge the papacy as this system or power, would then doubt God’s Word of prophecies which have time after time proven to be 100% ACCURATE.

 … History reveals that the Papacy destroyed three of the ten kingdoms, which were as follows. (1) The Heruli in A.D. 493, (2) the Vandals in A.D. 534, (3) the Ostrogoths in A.D. 538.

In what follows, I would like to try to prove two things – a) the three tribes were NOT defeated by the papacy, and were NOT the only three tribes to be defeated like they were, and b) the most essential part of this SDA prophetic scenario will be debunked when it is shown that the neither the Western Roman Empire, nor the nations of Western Europe, fit into the “10 horn” image of Daniel/Revelation. Because there were NOT 10 “horns” or kingdoms in this area at this time, it is totally ridiculous to say that these 15-20 nations represent a 10-horned beast !!!

Without that, none of the SDA’s claims can be applied to the papacy, simply because they have found the papacy in entirely the wrong place, and have grossly misunderstood what the Bible, specifically the book of Daniel, is saying. It is obvious to me from the study I have made into the SDA theory that the SDA Church simply has no clue about what the facts really are.

The SDA who wrote the above to me insisted that I give him good references for what I claimed – probably because he was shocked at learning the truth, and could not believe that such information could come from real sources. He, on the other hand, did not provide the sources he expected me to provide, except one or two here or there that were SDA sources anyway, and which are all easily proved to be the same distortion of history that I am going to demonstrate. For this reason I have listed my sources. below.

The encyclopedic references I have used are as follows:

  1. Encyclopedia Britannica
  2. The World Book Encyclopedia
  3. The New Book of Knowledge
  4. Purnell’s new English Encyclopedia
  5. Collier’s Encyclopedia
  6. Funk and Wagnall’s New Standard Dictionary of the English Language

Please see the articles: Papal States, Rome, Pope, papacy, Catholicism, Roman Empire, Belisarius, Pius VI, Pius VII, Stephen II, Stephen III, Pepin, Franks, Lombards, Burgundians, Vandals, Heruli, Goths, Orthogoths, Visigoths, Celts, Saxons, Germani, Teutonics, Huns, Suebi (Suevi), Quodi, Helveti, Belgi, Gauls, Cimbri, Alemanni, Dacians, Walloons, Venetians, Iberians, Marcomanni, Magyars, Basques, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Austria, England, Rumania, France, Germany, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania.

The books I looked into are:

  1. E Gibbon – The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  2. P De Rosa – Vicars of Christ – The Dark Side of the Papacy
  3. A Momigliano (ed.) – Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century
  4. Millar – The Roman Empire and its neighbours
  5. AHM Jones – The Later Roman Empire: 284-602AD
  6. J Pelikan – The Excellent Empire – The Fall of Rome and the Triumph of the Church
  7. S Bullough – Roman Catholicism
  8. J Richards – The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages: 476-752AD

These references will be adequate to provide all the information I claim. Basically all of the data was taken from encyclopedias, and the books are merely there for backup proof. Further references which contain still the same information, but which I won’t quote as references, as they are not as extensive and all-encompassing, are:

  1. G Barraclough – The Origins of Modern Germany
  2. H Chadwick – The Early Christian Church
  3. O Chadwick – Catholicism and History
  4. JG Davies – The Early Christian Church
  5. L Duchesne – The Beginnings of the Temporal Sovereignty of the Popes
  6. L Duchesne – The Early History of the Christian Church
  7. Gregory of Tours – The History of the Franks
  8. PA Hughes – A Short History of the Catholic Church
  9. P Johnson – A History of Christianity
  10. KS Latourette – A History of Christianity

I hope that is sufficient. If you want to look stuff up, I would suggest you go to the encyclopedias first. They contain all the relevant information. The rest contain it too, but it is more difficult to locate. Encyclopedias are easier to obtain in libraries too.

The dates given by the SDA for the destruction of the Heruli, Ostrogoths, and Vandals are as follows:

  • Heruli – 265 AD. I pointed out that this was wrong, and he subsequently changed his story. He then gave the more correct date of 493 AD.
  • Vandals in 534 AD
  • Ostrogoths in 538 AD

I accept the two dates for the first two (493 and 534). They are correct. The date for the defeat of the Ostrogoths was NOT 538 AD, but rather 555 AD. A minor defeat occurred previously, but my sources give me the date of 540 AD for that one, two years AFTER Adventism’s required date. However, that is irrelevant – the Bible says that the three horns were uprooted – history shows that the uprootment of the final of these three horns, the Ostrogoths, was not complete until 555 AD. So either one must count from 555 AD, or one must not count at all from the defeat of the Ostrogoths. To count their defeat from 2 years before a minor irrelevant defeat and 17 years before their actual defeat and annihilation is dishonest manipulation of history, something very typical of SDAs and people like them who have a prophetic agenda to force the facts into.

It is interesting to note that the Visigoths (the western split of the Gothic kingdom) suffered the same type of defeat the SDAs classify as the uprooting of the Ostrogoths (the eastern part) – but they don’t say they are also a horn that was uprooted. Why ? Is it because it is invonvenient to have more that the biblically required 3 horns to deal with ? In fact, if one includes the Visigoths’ defeat in Aquitania (equivalent to what the Adventists want to call the Ostrogoths’ defeat) then there are SIX horns that were uprooted, NOT THREE. (see later.)

The next point is that Dan 7:24 says that it is the 11th horn that uproots or puts down the three kings. However, in all three cases at hand, the papacy had NOTHING to do with their uprootment !!! The person who defeated the Ostrogoths and the Vandals was Belisarius, a general in the army of Justinian, emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire. Justinian was a Christian, but his political actions were clearly not influenced by the bishop of a foreign city, Rome. It is yet another SDA untruthful distortion of the facts to say this.

But that is all irrelevant. Let’s turn to the Heruli, and see what influence the papacy had in their uprootment. All my sources say they were uprooted by the Lombards in 493 AD. Which is very interesting, because the Lombards were NOT Catholic – they were Arians, enemies of the Catholic Church and of the papacy, and CERTAINLY NOT influenced in their political decisions by their enemy the pope. So, completely contrary to Daniel 7:24, the Heruli were NOT put down by the papacy at all, but by the Lombards. Either the SDA interpretation of Daniel 7:24 is incorrect, or, if the SDAs are right, the actual prophecy given by God to Daniel was faulty.

It is interesting to note that these Arian Lombards were to rule Italy, and Rome, thus allowing the pope no political power in Rome or Italy, from 568 – 774 AD. It was only after a request by Pope Stephen II to King Pepin of the Franks, that caused the Lombards to be kicked out of Rome in 755-6. Pepin then gave land to the papacy – this was the first land the papacy owned, and it is from this point that the temporal rule of the papacy began – NOT as Adventists claim in 538 AD. And what is more, the papal political power did no begin in 538 either – history clearly shows that it began under Constantine the Great, when Christianity became the official religion of the Empire – 380 AD. Some say it started before this, as is evidenced by the activities of the Council of Nicaea in 324-5 AD, but either way, the date cannot be set as late as 538 AD. So here we have incontrovertible proof that the political power of the papacy began in the 300’s, and the temporal reign over people and land began in the 700’s, and between those dates other people, Arians and Romans, held rule over the land where the pope lived.

Furthermore, the ending of the papal political power (which Adventists claim is the mortal wound) occurred in the 1870’s. The papal states were restored to the papacy after 1798 when Napoleon took them away – thus that was NOT a mortal wound, for it was only temporary. The ACTUAL wound, or permanent event, occurred in 1870.

In summary, SDA dates are wrong, and the three horns were finished being uprooted only in 555 AD. Also, your theory blatantly contradicts the Bible (Dan 7:24) because the papacy could NOT have had any influence in the Lombardish decision to wipe out the Heruli.

Furthermore, the SDA theory is wrong because Adventists have failed to accurately identify a 10 horned beast, with 3 horns that get uprooted. The Huns (455 AD) were also a people who were uprooted – this time by the waning Roman Empire, and later finally by the other tribes, the Eastern Empire, and by civil war. Also uprooted were the Alemanni (495 AD). So one has a problem of FIVE horns (SIX if you count the Visigoths) that were uprooted, NOT THREE. One cannot ignore the Huns or the Alemanni, because they were just like the other barbarian tribes that tried to invade Western Rome, e.g. Lombards, Heruli, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Franks, etc. Nor can you call the Huns the present day Hungarians – these are the descendants of the Magyars; the Huns were absorbed into the surrounding peoples after their defeat, just like the Heruli were, never to be a tribe on their own again.

One SDA source (Marvin Moore) says that the 10 horns are 10 barbarian nations that tried to invade the Western Roman Empire. The three that were uprooted, he claims were uprooted by the papacy (I have shown that to be a lie) because they were Arian, and not Catholic. But the Franks were ALSO Arian – they converted to Catholicism in 486. The Lombards were Arian, and only converted long after Pepin kicked them out of Rome in 755 AD. So it is a lie to say that Catholics ruled Italy and the city of Rome from 538 onwards – they did not. The Visigoths were Arian, and converted in 589 AD. So here we have several more Arian tribes that invaded the Western Empire, yet Moore claims that what made these three horns (Ostrogoths, Vandals, Heruli) different, unique, and worthy of uprooting was that they were the only Arian tribes. Yet another obvious SDA distortion of the truth.

Summary – there were more than 3 Arian horns, and there were more than three uprooted horns.

Let’s now count the number of horns in the whole of the Western Empire.

The SDA who wrote to me counted the following: Germany, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Switzerland. And obviously the three uprooted ones – Heruli, Ostrogoths, and Vandals. It appears that Adventists are not united on this matter (see above, where Marvin Moore claims that the 10 tribes were barbarians who invaded the Roman Empire – something the English and the Roman Italians were not. But anything that appears to add up to 10 and looks good and is anti-Catholic, is acceptable to the Adventist Church, it seems.

But here they have made an obvious fallacy – the countries today were NOT the same countries or nations that were around in the days of the Empire. Borders were completely different, and people were completely different. The Spanish and French did not even exist (as single entities) in 538 AD – how on earth could they make up an existing horn of a beast that was current in 538 AD ??? Furthermore, it is dishonest to classify Italy as only one country, because at that time, and for a long time afterwards, they were made up of different peoples – a least three – the Venetians, the Lombards, and the Italians/Romans themselves. And once again the SDA has conveniently left out the Huns. And if you want to include Switzerland (the Helvetians), a very minor group in those times, you have to include the more prominent Belgium (made up of the Flemings and the Belgians) as well – they were part of the Western Empire just as much as the rest of the countries were. And since the SDA wants to include parts of North Africa (the Vandals – Algeria and Tunisia) I feel free to insert Libya and Mauritania as well. So already, counting as the Adventists want us to count, if we look at history and geography honestly, we have more than 10 horns or tribes or nations.

In order to find out who precisely the 10 (or more) horns were, we must look at who the distinct and separate tribes/nations of people were at that time.

I don’t know whether the Adventists want to count the nations of the Western Roman Empire, or just the nations that invaded the Western Roman Empire. Since the one who wrote to me included England, who never invaded the Western Roman Empire, but who was part of it, as a horn, I assume that he meant the former grouping. So I’ll deal with that fallacy first.

Let’s list the nations/tribes who were to be found within the borders of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, the time when the SDA claims they were all present (including the three he claims were uprooted.)

  • England (i.e. the Saxons.)
  • Franks
  • Lombards
  • Burgundians
  • Gauls (French Gauls)
  • Belgi
  • Helvetii (Swiss)
  • Italians (i.e. Romans)
  • Iberians
  • Visigoths
  • Basques
  • Libyans
  • Mauritanians (North Africa, next to where the Vandals were located)
  • Dacians (Rumania, a Roman province)
  • Assorted Slavic peoples
  • Alemanni
  • And then the 3 the Adventists want uprooted – Ostrogoths, Vandals, and Heruli

Well, that is more than 10 horns/peoples, so I will stop there. If we wanted to get technical, we could go on.

Notice that I leave out the Germans (specifically the Germani tribe to which the SDA must be referring), who did not form part of the Western Roman Empire, but were to be found north of the Empire’s borders. Some of the Teutonic Germans were found in the Roman Empire (e.g. the Heruli, to name but one) but specifically the Teutonic tribe called the Germani, which was later to become Germany, was outside of the Empire.

Well, that proves that the Western Empire simply cannot be a 10 horned beast.

Let’s take a look at the alternative view of this confused group of people, the one used by Moore – that the horns are kingdoms that invaded Rome. First I think it appropriate to note that the Papacy was not a kingdom until 755 AD, and therefore it is dishonest to classify it as a horn here. But we’ll let that slip by for now. But note that we can’t include England because it never invaded the Empire – it was part of it, though.

Here are a list of barbarian tribes that invaded the Western Roman Empire:

  • Huns
  • Heruli
  • Ostrogoths
  • Visigoths
  • Vandals
  • Franks
  • Burgundians
  • Lombards
  • Allemanni
  • Germani (they DID invade, they just weren’t part of it)
  • Suevi
  • Quodi
  • Gauls (still on the go at that time)
  • Celts (in England)
  • Moors (in North Africa)

Well, here again we have more than 10 horns to this beast. Personally I don’t think this is what you mean, so we won’t go any further.

Summary – there were more than 10 horns to the Western Empire (or her invaders), therefore the biblical prophecy is clearly misplaced. There were more than 3 uprootions, hence again the biblical prophecy is misapplied to these people. Furthermore, the papacy was NOT responsible for the uprootions (as required by Dan 7:24), and thus it is even more clear that the Adventist idea of prophecy is false and deluded.

Personally I feel that this type of prophecy interpretation is clearly what follows on in the followers of false prophets like William Miller, and Ellen White. These two individuals predicted events that quite clearly did not come to pass. Miller, one could say, was merely deceived – he did not claim to be a prophet. Ellen White, on the other hand, is clearly what the Bible calls a False Prophet – her predictions did not come to pass, and she even contradicted herself and the Bible. I feel that a church should be honest with the facts of history when trying to dabble in prophecy – something the Seventh-day Adventist Church clearly is not doing.

There is a follow-up here.

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