Protestants: When did the Church depart from Truth into Error?


As Protestants, we believe that the Catholic Church errs in matters of doctrine and that the Reformation was a necessary correction of those errors. So, assuming that the Catholic Church erred, at what time did this begin? In other words, when was the Church essentially doing things right and when, exactly, did it subsequently depart into heresy?

I’d like to avoid the shallow and stock answers usually offered by Catholic and Protestants alike. Serious responses only please.


It never err regarding doctrine issues. History show it did not err. If the CC did err why didn’t the ECF objected to the doctrines that was settled in the Church Council. It would also contradict Jesus Christ’ promise that the Church will be preserved from err. “The Gates of Hell shall NOT prevail against it.”

I don’t think Jesus would break any of his promise. For his is always faithful even when we are disobedient to him.


Your question pre-supposes that the Catholic Church departed from the truth. I reject that assertion. Rather than become involved in an interminable argument, I can only assert to you, that while individual Catholics can error in judgment, Holy Church does not error in doctrine.


“The Church” never departed from truth.

However, some members of the church did. No one denies that individuals, sometimes many individuals, went against the church teachings into things like selling indulgences (for their own personal gain), went against their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as priests; were lazy, greedy, sinful etc.

Since clergy were held to a high standard, and a small (though still too large) number were extremely blatant in their sinning, and since any ‘chastisement’ from their superiors tended to be ‘too little, too late’, a number of well intentioned people stepped forward in an effort to purify, not so much “the church” but some of the church’s ‘clergy’.

And then, as often happens, they went a little too far. They became more concerned not with what was offending God (as they had been at first), but what offended them. And in order to bolster their own selves and to ‘prove’ that they were being more ‘godly’ than the clergy, they started to ‘cherry pick’ scripture.

Instead of arguing (quite correctly) that a man who had vowed chastity should not be fornicating, they started to go even further. Why, when one looked at “scripture” and not “the Church” (“The Church”, after all, was full of SINNERS but ‘the Bible’ was not --here is the start of Biblolatry), were priests ‘celibate’ to begin with?
And ‘who’ started this clergy ‘power’ anyway?

Anticlericalism became more and more vocal and vicious. People looked at the very high profile ‘sinner’ they either knew or had ‘heard of’, and ignored the hundreds of quiet and godly clergy in their midst. Hey, these people ‘shut themselves away’, these people ‘mumbled’ in a ‘foreign language’. Sure, they may ‘act nice’ right NOW. . .but can you trust them? Can you trust them not to be like the Borgia pope? They aren’t ‘like us’. They are trying to ‘keep’ us from having the Scripture because they’re afraid we’ll find out ‘we’ are as good as ‘they’ are. IN fact, we’re BETTER because ‘we’ are ‘pure’ and ‘we’ follow the BIBLE and not some ‘man’.

Welcome to the ‘reformation’ as most know it–not the beginning with its honest concern over individual wrongs, but the fight to the literal death over doctrine and the wholesale abandonment and ‘rewriting’ of Scripture to bolster the fighting.


Here you go again with this, “We are right and the rest of creation is wrong” stuff again. This seems to be the norm with you sir. You have a huge beef with Protestants in general and will stop at nothing to continue to feed your own ego and keep reminding yourself that you are right on all counts. Maybe this is what you have to do to keep all of the Catholic propaganda from appearing to be the lies, deceit and manipulation that it genuinely is. It proves nothing to non-Catholics to use, “the church says that it is so” as proof on any and all issues. The Reformation took place becase it had to for Christianity to survive.


Can you then prove any Catholic propaganda that are lies, deceit and manipulations?


First of all, my reason for remaining Protestant is not that the Catholic Church was in error, but that I believe Protestant churches to be true churches. I do not have to justify the schism of the Reformation–on the contrary, I want to overcome it. I am just not fully convinced that the way to overcome it is to jump from one side to the other.

In the second place, as a Protestant I do indeed believe that the Catholic Church can err. Catholics do not deny this, in the sense in which I affirm it. That is to say, theologians, bishops, even Popes can and do make theological mistakes on a fairly frequent basis. That is not heresy and is not reason for division. Catholics claim that a very narrow range of doctrinal affirmations are protected from error. I am not sure they are right, but as I said my remaining Protestant does not really rest on that point. More problematically, in my opinion, Catholics insist on using the word “Church” in a highly rarefied sense, so that they can say that the Church never sins or errs even though its members do. I find this too close to Protestant “invisible church” theology. That is my primary objection to the Catholic doctrine of infallibility–I think it is a far more serious issue than the narrow question of whether certain specific acts of the Church are protected from error.

Rather than giving a point at which the Church fell into error, I could point to certain specific conciliar and papal statements that I am confident were wrong. One would be the teaching that heretics should be handed over to the secular authorities for execution, and another would be the teaching (declared by Clement XI, for instance) that there may be good reasons why laypeople should (in certain circumstances) be kept from reading the Scriptures.



Wow, I wouldn’t know quite where to begin.


We all are adults here. Having a nice conversation / discussion is a better thing to do than talking back and forth.

You can go ahead start writing all the lies, deceit and manipulation.


let’s see, the protestants fixed the problems of the catholic church by reformation! how then 2500 versions of the truth of God (there are over 2500 sects, denominations etc. kinds of christian churches.) all are ‘bible-based’ which version then is the bible true one? when did protestant churches ‘find’ the truth - or have they?


Ok, let’s just have a nice conversation about all the wrongs and heresy of the Reformation. You go ahead and strike up a conversation with something that is gravely wrong with the Reformation.


Contrarini, can you tell me which conciliar and papal statements specifically said that heretics should be handed over to secular authorities* for execution?*


Right, you said the biggest Problem of all, the thousands and thousand and thousand of sect out there, all teaching a little different from one another. These sect keep Growing and Growing
and they getting further and further from the Truth.


You see - your problem is that you talked to your fellow Christian in a disrespectful manner. As for this thread, you said much about the lies, deceit, and manipulations about the Catholic Church, but when I asked for proof, you tried to go around the bush.

Why don’t you stick to what you said and prove it? I am not here to show lies, deceit, and any manipulation of any religion.

If you can’t prove it, don’t say it. Or you can go ahead and contribute your answer to this OP’s question “Protestants: When did the Church depart from Truth into Error?”



If you sit down with a room of Catholics, you will find that their are several different beliefs among them which shatters the notion that Catholics all believe in unison. They may be required to by Canon law but do they really? Certainly not.


You are setting a trap–the word execution may not occur in canon 3 of 4 Lateran, but heretics are to be handed over to the secular authorities, and the secular authorities are enjoined to exterminate heresy. We know quite well how this was done–it was done by burning obstinate or relapsed heretics at the stake. Reasonably, this is what the Fathers of the Council intended. I am not interested in arguing that this is the only possible meaning. That is why I said that the “official teaching” issue is uninteresting to me. You wind up playing word games. But historically there is no doubt whatever that this was done, and that 4 Lateran sanctioned and encouraged the practice.



of course, but these are individuals. Can you blame the whole Church for each individual belief? The Church teaches the same thing, but it doesn’t mean that those who believe different things representing what the Church teaches.


Hello AC. Could you explain this statement ?

It seems to indicate that Christianity would be non-existent, or nearly so, if not for the Reformation.

There were not enough stones to knock it out of Stephen. The pagan Romans could not kill enough Christians to stop it.

I don’t understand. Please explain why Christianity is still here today because of the Reformation. How would todays Church be different if the Reformation never occurred ?


Why argue? All you will do to refute any proof I have to back up my claims is quote something from within the Catholic church itself. You will never use scripture except in a fashion where the magisterium has spoken for you to trump your own reason. My proof is where scripture doesn’t speak as opposed to where it does speak on several issues and practices and dogmas of the Catholic church.


Well, that’s what I expected. When you said something, you proved it. That makes the discussion more meaningful. Despite of the proof being true or not, it is still a better discussion than just throwing out word “lies, deceit, manipulation” - it just doesn’t help.

As for the Church teaching truth - we use both Scripture and Traditions.

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