Bishops who joined the reformation


#1

Hi there,

I was wondering if there were any Catholic Bishops who joined the cause of the reformation when it took place?

Also wondering, is there any good book to read about the historical facts (not necessarily the theological or doctrinal) around the reformation? As in who said what, who did what, who joined who etc?


#2

I'm not sure actually. However, I do know that Scandinavia was influenced by Lutheranism. The state churches of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are all today Lutheran churches. All of them have bishops as well. Perhaps, Scandinavian Catholic bishops did embrace the Reformation. I don't know though. Just throwing that out there . . .


#3

A Swiss bishop named Jakob Amman (1656-1730) led a movement for reform within the church. A resulting schism resulted in the formation of a new group of Mennonites, who came to be known as Amish. (protestant.christianityinview.com/denominations.html). Based on this, and the political system in the Germanies during Luther's time, I'd say YES. During the 30-years war there were numerous protestant bishops, and I'd be willing to bet that a number of them came over from the Catholic side when their rulers (duke, count, baron, etc) did.


#4

[quote="ltwin, post:2, topic:292936"]
I'm not sure actually. However, I do know that Scandinavia was influenced by Lutheranism. The state churches of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are all today Lutheran churches. All of them have bishops as well. Perhaps, Scandinavian Catholic bishops did embrace the Reformation. I don't know though. Just throwing that out there . . .

[/quote]

I think some of them were sort of "required" to embrace it.

Jon


#5

[quote="i_am_a_Catholic, post:1, topic:292936"]
Hi there,

I was wondering if there were any Catholic Bishops who joined the cause of the reformation when it took place?

[/quote]

Some. In Germany the only one I know about Hermann von Wied of Cologne (I think a later archbishop of Cologne may also have tried to go Protestant, but I don't know much about it). And his case is complex--he's one of those of whom I think it can genuinely be said that he never intended to leave the Church. He attempted to work with both "Protestant" (Martin Bucer) and "Catholic" (Johann Gropper) reformers in order to reform the local church in Cologne. But the effort broke down--Gropper denounced the archbishop's invitation to Bucer to be his court preacher, and eventually the Pope deposed and excommunicated von Wied.

In Scandinavia and England, bishops did become Protestants, although even there in a number of cases the Protestant bishops were newly consecrated and not the same as their Catholic predecessors. I know more about England than Scandinavia--there all the bishops but one resigned in 1559 rather than take an oath to Elizabeth. Earlier, under Henry and Edward, the story was different, though. Certainly most of the bishops went along with Henry's break with Rome (if you count that as "Protestant"), and after that break a number of people became bishops who had Protestant sympathies--most notably Thomas Cranmer.

Also wondering, is there any good book to read about the historical facts (not necessarily the theological or doctrinal) around the reformation? As in who said what, who did what, who joined who etc?

Well, the two tend to be connected. A few suggestions:

Diarmaid MacCulloch's The Reformation is comprehensive and very readable. He's an agnostic ex-Anglican with fairly pro-Anglican sympathies (he's also the author of the best biography of Thomas Cranmer), but I think most folks would agree that he's quite fair.

Euan Cameron's The European Reformation is one of the classic surveys. I read it in grad school and thought it was very fair-minded, though Cameron is himself a liberal Protestant (Anglican I presume).

Carter Lindberg's The European Reformations is another well-respected survey. Lindberg is Lutheran.

For Germany in particular, Thomas Brady's German Histories in the Age of the Reformations is excellent. I'm currently reading it, and find it extremely helpful. He is a master of sixteenth-century political history and is able to provide succinct overviews of important issues that are extremely fair and backed by decades of careful research. For instance, the chapter I've just been reading on heretics, Jews, and witches ought to be read by everyone on this forum who gets involved in debates about persecution in the early modern era.

Another author you should definitely check out is Brad Gregory. Gregory is a Catholic scholar who came to prominence for his book Salvation at Stake, *dealing with sixteenth-century martyrdom. More recently, he's written a book called *Unintended Consequences arguing that the Reformation is the cause of the secularization of the modern West. I have not read it yet, but it's been causing quite a stir.

Edwin


#6

[quote="vonmesser, post:3, topic:292936"]
A Swiss bishop named Jakob Amman (1656-1730) led a movement for reform within the church.

[/quote]

He was not a Catholic bishop. Anabaptists use the term "bishop" basically to mean "pastor" (which is essentially its original meaning--see Ignatius). It doesn't imply apostolic succession.

Edwin


#7

[quote="Contarini, post:5, topic:292936"]
Unintended Consequences

[/quote]

arguing that the Reformation is the cause of the secularization of the modern West. I have not read it yet, but it's been causing quite a stir.
Edwin

I've had trouble with that argument, as counter example both Spain and Russia remained free of the reformation, yet turned secular too. I'll add the book to the reading list to see if I can be persuaded - Edwin, thanks for the list!


#8

[quote="Contarini, post:6, topic:292936"]
He was not a Catholic bishop. Anabaptists use the term "bishop" basically to mean "pastor" (which is essentially its original meaning--see Ignatius). It doesn't imply apostolic succession.

Edwin

[/quote]

Thank you so much for your replies and for every one else :)

I will take a look at the books you recommended.


#9

For England, I’d start with J. J. Scarisbrick’s bio of Henry, HENRY VIII. And I’d trust Contarini’s suggestions on the Continent.

GKC


#10

The princes of the various German States became for the most part acting bishops. The Peace of Augsburg 1555 between Lutherans and Catholics stated "cuius regio, eius religio"- whose region, his religion. The princes determined the religion of his state. If you were Catholic and the prince Lutheran, then you had to convert or move.


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