quotes from the mouth of
Desiderius Erasmus

(c. 1469-1536)

    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 doctrines.

    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).

Back to the
Commemoration of the 400th Year Anniversary of the
Authorized King James Version of the Bible Page

Keywords: Desiderius Erasmus quotes about the Roman Catholic "Church"