Protestant Reformation?

Hi there everyone,

Well, I’m taking a Church history class, and we just started learning about the Protestant Reformation. From what I read, this was pretty much bought on because there were several uneducated clergy, and also the Church was selling indulgences. People were corrupt, and those like Martin Luther realized that. I agree that some of the Church’s practices were wrong and needed to be addressed. But my question is, is the Protestant Reformation necessarally a bad thing? I know it hurt the Church immediately because so many people left the Catholic Religion and formed their own churches. But today, there are good sides of this too. I believe that in order to have a good life, you have to have faith in God, but worship him however you wish. Many people are going to church today: not necessaraly a Catholic Mass, but are living faith-filled lives.

So, from the Catholic persepctive, is the Protestant Reformation a good thing or not?

Thanks,
Jeanne

The Protestant Reformation was and remains a very bad thing. The integrity of the Church Jesus founded was assaulted, and the subsequent teachings of the reformers resulting in the splintering of Christianity into thousands and thousands of sects, and faith groups. Certainly not the “one baptism, one body” that Jesus preached.

Were there abuses that needed to be confronted in the 14th century? Of course there was, but the reformers basically “threw the baby out with the bath water”.

First, I want to point out that the information that you were given is incorrect. The Church was NOT selling indugencies. This is a lie taught to discredit her. There WERE clergy who were doing so, but it was NOT Church teaching that this be done.

It was a bad thing because it is against the Will of Christ. He prayed that we all be One as he and the Father are one. Because of it, we are not.

Ok I understand. That makes sense.

First of all, the ends do not ever justify the means.

Secondly, Martin Luther did have a bone to pick with things that were commonly done by those in authority in the Catholic Church such as simony and the selling of indulgences. The people in the Church were being corrupted and she did need reform. What she did not need was a complete split. Schism is not the answer to the problems of the Church.

Qualifier: I am not saying that everything that Luther had against the Church was legit. He had plenty of problems that he needed to get over himself. Examples: Sola Scriptura, Sola Fidei, yanking parts of the Bible out (ironical, eh?), crud jokes, violent outbursts, breaking his vow of celibacy to marry an ex-nun…

The Council of Trent answered all of Martin Luther’s objections, and more. The split should have ended there, but pride got in the way of reconciliation - that, and money - governments in Europe, especially Germany (Lutheran), Holland (Calvinist), and England (Anglican), found it very lucrative to be the heads of their own state churches - giving up that amount of income from the tithes and offerings of the people was simply unthinkable for them, by the time the Council of Trent was concluded.

It would be interesting to know how Luther might have reacted to the work of the Council but he died only a couple of months after the Council opened and nearly eighteen years before it closed. Even if had he lived to see the results of the Council, I’m not at all sure it would have made a lot of difference in the course of the Reformation.

The continuance of the Reformation was largely political and economic, ensuring that the Pope would never again exercise the political and economic power that he had before the Reformation. Theology played an important role but it was overshadowed by the social consequences of marginalizing papal authority in the civil realm.

It was not the doctrine of indulgencies that Luther was against to start wiith but the abuse of the doctrine. The same with penance.

They used The Bible to defend their position and it soon became apparant that the doctrine of indulgencies was contrary to justification by faith. Hence the eventual split.

Most of what Luther wanted was got at the Council of Trent.

There was also coruption twithin the church that needed to be addressed.

There is still much bitterness in places that should be resolved.

As long as The head of the RC church is a head of state and the head of the Anglican Church is a head of state, politics will come into play. also Lutheran Churches in Scandanavia are funded by a state tax. At the risk of sounding like a donatist heretic,I say that as long as we are bound by politics of this world, we can not truly say that we are in the world but not of it.

I would put it differently. The starting point was Luther’s doctrine of grace, which was probably not yet a full-fledged “justification by faith” doctrine. Luther was already engaged in a debate with what he considered the distortions of late medieval theology, but this didn’t get public attention. The criticism of indulgences was an outgrowth of this broader theological agenda. But you’re right that Rome’s response to Luther’s criticisms pushed Luther into more and more radical positions.

Most of what Luther wanted was got at the Council of Trent.

I would say almost the exact opposite. The Council of Trent was a principled rejection of nearly everything Luther was saying. Did they always understand Luther? Probably not. Was compromise possible? Yes, I think it was, but that’s not what Trent was going for.

Edwin

It was well out of Luther’s hands by then, anyway. It was up to the new generation of leadership to deal with. To the best of my knowledge, they never participated in the process at all - whether out of fear, indifference, or the difficulties of travel and communication, is difficult to ascertain.

These are excellent points and from this protestant point of view illustrates one of the potential positives of the Reformation. The medieval church was not something that I think anyone today, even Catholic, would like to return to. The Pope was as much a secular prince as a religious leader. The way things were going, something was going to happen- internal reform movements, or new splinter movements, etc.

Given the enormous bloodshed of the ensuing centuries I’m not sure I could call it a net positive, though. One only needs to look at the British experience to see exactly how much pain came out of it all. An important point to remember is that it wasn’t all about doctrinal issues- the Thirty Years’ War was a direct result of the reformation, and it bled Germany white. Estimates put casualties in Germany from that one conflict alone at up to 30% of its total population. To gain a sense of scale, if a similar conflict happened in America today, it would claim the lives of up to 90 million citizens.

IMO, the Western Church was in bad shape in the 1500’s, and something was eventually going to give. But what a hard medicine it was given. One reason I don’t really get happy on Reformation Day. Again, just my opinion, Reformation Day ought rather be a day of mourning for what was lost 500 years ago. Protestants lost a lot too, in the aftermath of the Reformation. A balanced reading of Reformation history leads one to conclude that both Catholics and Protestants have a lot to be ashamed of regarding the people who represented their faiths during that time period. Had many of them turned back to the core beliefs of their faith and left worldly politics aside, things might have come out better.

If anything, it’s a lesson not to mix faith and secular states too much. The 1700’s didn’t come from a vacuum, and there’s a reason the U.S. Constitution expressly forbids a state religion. We are lucky today in that we can debate doctrine in relative safety; our only real concern is getting interpretations of scripture and such correct. Back in the 1500’s, the local prince told you what to believe, and religion was as much about international relations as it was about actual beliefs.

Again, I’m certain that things were going to need to change- secular rulers would have probably eventually found a way to get the Church out of governing anyway, and maybe with less bloodshed- and as others have noted, the doctrinal issues could probably have been addressed amicably down the road. But let’s be clear, the changes were necessary, even if the people making them made a lot of mistakes along the way.

As a protestant, I can deal with what the Papacy is today, and indeed admire the modern Catholic faith in most all of its aspects (I wouldn’t post here if I didn’t want to learn more about how committed Catholics think). I’m not sure I could have dealt with what it was in the 1500’s, based on the political and economic factors in play. But, of course, I’m speaking with nearly 500 years of hindsight, and things look different after the advent of things like secular governments and democracy, so maybe I would have thought otherwise 500 years ago.

It was far from perfect. But all the “reformed” versions of Christianity (including Tridentine Catholicism) that replaced it had at least as great problems. Myself, I would much rather deal with the medieval problems than with those of the early modern period.

The Pope was as much a secular prince as a religious leader.

Insofar as this changed among Catholics, it changed in the sense that the Pope became less capable of functioning authoritatively without the support of the Catholic monarchs. And of course the situation among Anglicans and Lutherans was much worse.

And bear in mind–the Pope didn’t cease to rule a substantial chunk of Italy until the 19th century.

Given the enormous bloodshed of the ensuing centuries I’m not sure I could call it a net positive, though.

I think that’s the understatement of the millennium.

If anything, it’s a lesson not to mix faith and secular states too much.

I disagree. I think this is exactly the false lesson that the modern world has learned from the Reformation. I find William Cavanaugh generally persuasive on this point (though I admit that I have a strong bias). I have also been deeply influenced by John Bossy.

Actually, I agree if you mean that the Church should not use the weapons of the world. I disagree vehemently if you mean that there is something called “secular politics” which is fine and healthy in its own place, and something private and individual called “faith” or “religion” which is also fine and healthy in its own place, and the two shouldn’t be mixed.

But let’s be clear, the changes were necessary

Which changes? The obsession with uniformity? The suppression of popular religion? The focus on authority and good order, even at the expense of charity? The muffling of the Church’s witness and the handing over of all effective authority to the emerging secular state?

Yes, changes were necessary. Changes are always necessary, and for that matter they always happen. There is no such thing as an unchanging state of affairs in this world. But the question is, where the changes that happened necessary, or would some other changes have been better?

My own view, for what it’s worth, is that something like Vatican II should (and without blatant anachronism, with regard to essential principles, conceivably could) have happened in the sixteenth century. The basic problem with Vatican II is that it is four hundred years too late.

Edwin

We can reasonably disagree… It’s a matter of judgment, really.

Insofar as this changed among Catholics, it changed in the sense that the Pope became less capable of functioning authoritatively without the support of the Catholic monarchs. And of course the situation among Anglicans and Lutherans was much worse.

And bear in mind–the Pope didn’t cease to rule a substantial chunk of Italy until the 19th century.

True. It was not a process that just happened overnight.

I think that’s the understatement of the millennium.

It’s more than many protestants will admit to. :wink: But, I agree. Had those in the 1500’s been able to foresee the 1600’s, I think we’d all be Catholics today.

I disagree. I think this is exactly the false lesson that the modern world has learned from the Reformation. I find William Cavanaugh generally persuasive on this point (though I admit that I have a strong bias). I have also been deeply influenced by John Bossy.

Actually, I agree if you mean that the Church should not use the weapons of the world. I disagree vehemently if you mean that there is something called “secular politics” which is fine and healthy in its own place, and something private and individual called “faith” or “religion” which is also fine and healthy in its own place, and the two shouldn’t be mixed.

I mean that the Church should not use the weapons of the world. I do not mean the modern convention of separation of church and state; that is, there I believe there is a place for Christian morality in guiding societal norms through a government, and that isn’t limited to a set of specific issues. That being said, religious institutions should not be a) using states to convert their populations by force, or b) using their particular faith as a geopolitical bargaining chip. Perhaps this would be made moot had the Church not split, and the whole concept of “state religion” wouldn’t have been an issue in the ensuing centuries. After all, if there’s only one Church, there’s no other flavors of christianity to disfavor. I think my objection centers around the ABUSE of the state apparatus by the Church, not the specific relationship.

The modern era has introduced a definition of “separating church and state” where it is assumed that no issues of religious morality can enter public debate. This definition goes too far.

Which changes? The obsession with uniformity? The suppression of popular religion? The focus on authority and good order, even at the expense of charity? The muffling of the Church’s witness and the handing over of all effective authority to the emerging secular state?

Yes, changes were necessary. Changes are always necessary, and for that matter they always happen. There is no such thing as an unchanging state of affairs in this world. But the question is, where the changes that happened necessary, or would some other changes have been better?

My own view, for what it’s worth, is that something like Vatican II should (and without blatant anachronism, with regard to essential principles, conceivably could) have happened in the sixteenth century. The basic problem with Vatican II is that it is four hundred years too late.

Edwin

I think we are closer in opinion than we sound, and maybe that is my fault for trying to get something that long typed up quickly. I agree that other changes would have been better than the specific route the Reformation took. If I were Martin Luther, would I have left the Church, given his specific disagreements with it? Probably not, but again, we have 500 years of hindsight.

I would also agree in that a Vatican II scenario would be the best you could reasonably hope for. But, we don’t always get Vatican II’s… Sometimes all we get is Trent. :shrug:

[quote]

Hi there fellow Catholic,

It is from Jesus Christ “perspective” Along with his CHURCH that the Protestant Reformation is a sinful act, a bad Idea of a man and not of Christ.

How so? Well, Did not Jesus Christ say, in (Matt 16: 18) And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The Protestant reformation by their Protest is actually calling Jesus Christ a liar and believe that the Gates of hell did prevail over it, and now the church needed to be reformed. Now does this sound right to you?

The Protestants wether they know it or not, they don’t believe in (Matt 16: 18) above. If they did they would of never protested, and would stop their protest immediately/ASAP

Ufamtobie
[/quote]

This is a false claim the selling of indugences was sanctioned by the pope.

No, the pope allowed for indulgences for alms-giving if certain conditions were met. That is NOT selling.

But, in the interest of fairness, prove it.

Even most Catholic historians conceed this point. While you wail against windmills I will leave you to your false misconceptions.

Wrong.

Most Catholic historians can look at Church documents, as can non-Catholic ones. The issue is one of historical honesty and integrity. If you look at the documentation, sale was never authorized.

Your polemic is analogous to me saying that Jesus was never on trial because there is no court documentation.

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