Myths & Misunderstandings about the Protestant Reformation

[INDENT]Note: I am making a mock-up for a pretend social cause campaign. I have chosen to focus on the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, specifically seeking to clear up myths and misunderstandings FROM BOTH SIDES.

This will be expressed through social media graphics – say images with text for Facebook or Instagram, etc.
**What are some of the chiefvmyths and misunderstandings on the Catholic side?

What are some of the chief myths and misunderstandings from the Protestant side?**

Examples I have thought of:



What are some misunderstandings and myths we Catholics and others get wrong about the Protestant Reformation?

I am much better at answering what Protestants sometimes get wrong, since I know apologetics, etc.

Also because Catholics had fewer things they got wrong. . .

Kidding! Just kidding! Douse the flames. . .

On a more serious note, both sides had a very different worldview than modern people. We tend to focus on trying to bend over backward to tolerate and help each other in the ‘here-and-now’, trusting that this example will not only help get us a Utopia on earth, but also will either fit us for heaven, or ‘get us there’ (and surprisingly enough it is more the Catholic position in the first and the Protestant position in the second) even though as you note, some protestants (not all!) thought of Catholics as trying to ‘buy heaven’.

But people then focused more on the hereafter than the here-and-now. Suffering on earth for both groups was not viewed as something to be eradicated whatever the cost, but often as a necessary prelude to one’s entrance to heaven. (Note I am not saying whether this view is ‘right’ or not. I’m saying it existed to a huge extent on both sides and helps explain WHY both groups thought it not only right, and just, but also MERCIFUL to execute heretics for example). You see, IF a person were guilty of heresy, he was endangering his eternal soul. And IF a person were to suffer, even to die, that might give the person clarity into seeing where he had erred, to repent sincerely before death, and thus, even the recusant heretic or the most fiendish ‘traitor to the realm’ depending on what group you belonged to, could by that suffering cleanse himself and freely achieve the salvation which otherwise his heresy/treason would have damned him for.

Again, this type of reasoning is very hard for a person who has grown up with 400 years or so of tolerance and ‘care for the here-and-now’ behind him. Remember that in AD 1590 or so, instead of that, people had some 1500 years of 'caring for the HEREAFTER" as their sole and greatly reverenced experiences.

[quote=catholic1seeks]What are some misunderstandings and myths we Catholics and others get wrong about the Protestant Reformation?

The difficulty with your question is that although there is an umbrella term for the upheaval that occurred, called the Protestant Reformation, it is hardly or even impossible to characterize with misunderstandings and myths, as if it was a monolithic homogeneous doctrinal revolution. Because there is such a wide spectrum of beliefs in Protestantism, even at the beginning, what might be a misunderstanding or myth in one sect, might be the foundation or cornerstone of another! That is precisely why Protestantism is so difficult to characterize and so easily misunderstood. It is FAR more than a religious revolution. It is a cultural and national development in the history of Western Christendom.

Just in general: Myths and misunderstandings we hold over even today.

“Indulgences are tickets to heaven” – that’s a common one, for example.

On the Protestant side, I could say “Luther wanted to start his own church”

On the Catholic side, “Catholics threw out 7 books of the Bible”

There are really basic things that are carried over even today. Even the general notion of a totally-corrupted church in need of reform

The very term “Reformation” is a misnomer, a myth. It may have started out with the intention of reforming, but it was, in the end, a great Revolt.

The worst myth: that there is nothing of value on the other side. Karl Barth changed my life, for example. There’s so much mud slinging over the ecumenical consensus that has existed from the beginning, it’s embarrassing.

I do agree with this, with one exception, I have read many many books and listened to many many people and I have been lead to the conclusion that it was never intended to be reforming in the first place, that is a myth. It was essentially intended to be a new soteriology, and therefore yes essentially a great Revolt.

Council of Trent. If we learn from them we will understand the environment, we will understand the conflict, we will understand the Catholic concerns and reactions to this new soteriology. The things they laid down were not abstract, mythical, answers to mythical assertions. They are instead concrete answers to the core of the “reformation”.

St Robert Bellarmine is also a very significant character in the play that is the reformation. Well worth reading.

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