Let’s discuss the anti-Catholic view of church history. I’m sure a lot of you have read catholic.com/tracts/fundamentalist-or-catholic which discusses their claim that Catholicism was invented in the 4th century and the “true Christians” were in hiding until the reformation. But I wanna get into more detail on those claims.
For those who actually believe that, can you point out some history books that actually “prove” it? Or do you claim that these “proofs” have been burned by the Church? Also for former Protestants or those who know anti-Catholics, let’s hear some claims you’ve heard about that kind of “history”.
In 25 years as a Protestant (converted from Catholicism in my 20s) and a few semesters attending a Protestant seminary, I have never known anyone who made such a claim. I’m sure a few people do, but there are a few extremists in every religion.
The Reformation is called “The Reformation” because the leaders were trying to reform the church, not replace something that had been invented. It is not called “The Restoration.”
One such variation on this theme that presents a “history” can be found in the book Martyr’s Mirror, which I’m sure is available on the Internet.
I’ve also heard people say that it wasn’t that these Christians were “in hiding” necessarily, but that there were always a few true believers within the Catholic Church. These people would also probably contend that there are still a few true believers in the Catholic Church today for that matter.
Still others would locate the ancient “Bible Christians” within various of the Oriental Orthodox churches.
I used to frequent religious rooms in Yahoo Chat, and I often encountered anti-Catholics. I’d ask them where in the history books prove that they were the original Church, and all they’d say is it’s in the bible.
Because when Luther attempted to engage the Church in discussion the Church hardened its position, demanded he recant his position, and threatened him with excommunication if he refused. He chose to follow God rather than the corrupt Church officials and was excommunicated.
Luther himself wrote that he had not intended to split from the Church he loved and served. It is unfair to pin all of this on the Reformers. The Catholic church shares the responsibility for failing to address serious abuses.
Why am I, alone, being asked to hold to this standard? This is a general thread with general comments throughout.
I was responding to october baby, who asked a general question, “if they were trying to ‘reform the church’ why did’t they remain catholic?”
I responded with facts that are easily verified in any church history resource and are not controversial. I will elaborate:
Luther, a Catholic priest, had a number of concerns about abuses in the church. As was the custom of the day, Luther wrote up 95 theses and nailed them to the door of All Saints Church at Wittenburg. This was the normal method for asking for a dialog. There was nothing unusual about what he did.
In many of Luther’s writings that survive to today, Luther was very clear that he wanted to address the abuses of the church and fix them, not leave the church, not create another church.
The church rejected Luther’s appeal for reform and threatened to to excommunicate him if he did not recant. I could grab a book or two and provide references, but this point is not in the least controversial. Was it for all 95 theses? I don’t know and I don’t think it matters. The point is that there were abuses, Luther brought them to light, and the church reacted negatively.
(And for free, I will add that Luther was not the first. As early as the 11th century groups such as the Waldensians were calling for reform. It is not true that Luther started something.)
Luther’s description of what happened next includes that he was considering acquiescing to the church’s demands. After a night of prayer, he chose to follow God and not man. He refused to recant.
The church excommunicated Luther. Period. No question. This is a well-known fact.
Nothing I have written is unknown or controversial. These are well-known, historical facts. The charge that Luther should have stayed in the church, implied by october baby’s question, is unfair because the church did not allow that to happen.
A. Martin Luther was not excommunicated until AD 1521.
B. Excommunication does not ‘remove’ a person from the Church. In fact, Martin Luther died as a Catholic.
C. UH, wait. You ASSUME that Luther chose to follow God by rejecting the Church. In this, you suddenly assume that the Church is not of God, but of man. What if. . .wait for it. . .poor Martin thought he was choosing God, but instead was duped by Satan, and walked away from the Church (which is of God) and followed SATAN? (This is what many Catholics think happened. Had Martin repented at any point, he by now would probably be SAINT Martin Luther, revered throughout a UNIFIED CHRISTENDOM for his courageous views in seeking to reform certain wrongs done BY INDIVIDUALS in the Church, his OBEDIENCE to authority in that instead of insisting that it could only be done ‘HIS’ way, he would wait and work WITH the Church, and thus his humility and reverence to God in submitting his ‘will’. )
Satan doesn’t want the mediocre, though he’ll accept anything he can get. He delights in taking the good people and turning them to him through deception, and then using their own virtues against them. Satan took the virtue of Martin Luther who at the start was genuinely working for the good of all in seeking to correct ERRORS BY INDIVIDUALS, and corrupted that virtue by making Martin think that ONLY HE was ‘virtuous’. If others did not jump on Martin’s bandwagon with the same fervor, they weren’t just ‘not as zealous’, they were actively wrong and heretical. And that’s when Martin stopped thinking of himself as being part of Catholic Christendom, but of being ‘outside’. His true virtue was twisted into making him believe he was the ONLY one capable of virtue, and that led him into rejecting doctrines and making up ones that appealed to what HE thought was best.
However in saying ‘Satan wants’ I am BY NO MEANS saying that Martin Luther is evil or damned. He was a good man who started out with the best of intentions and so I fervently pray that he repented where in any way he went against God and was given the gift to recognize those errors and to die in full communion with Christ and His Church.