Sources on the Reformation

Hello again, I hope I’m not posting too many threads here. My questions have picked up a snowball effect lately.

I should clarify a few things. I’m a protestant, but I have been convinced that sola scripturea doesn’t have a leg to stand on. I’ve also been convinced that the early church as the Eucharist as literal and as a sacrifice. I’ve been convinced that Catholic theology is the most coherent and complete theology that I’ve ever seen. I’m running out of reasons to not cross the Tiber.

But I need to understand where the divisions came from before I make a leap this big. Can anyone recommend a balanced book that shows each side of the Reformation fairly? If not, a pair of books, one from each perspective, that I can compare?

Thank you, both in advance and for all the help you have already given me on this site. God bless.

I like Hilaire Belloc and Warren Carroll’s books.

Also, the book Dissent From The Creed is worth your time.

This is a great question.

You know what I would actually recommend? Get a hold of this guy, and ask him for the best books on the topic:

While his emphasis is on Medieval history, Dr. McGuire definitely knows his stuff and I’m almost positive he’d be willing to steer you in the right direction.

The folks at the Coming Home Network, whose mission it is to assist non-Catholic clergy and laypeople come home to the Catholic Church, have recommended Karl Adam’s little, 108-page book, Roots of the Reformation, as a balanced examination of the subject. The Kindle (e-book) Edition is available at for 99 cents.

Louis Bouyer…Spirit of the Reformation. Author was a Lutheran who later converted.

Hi, MJ!
I also recommend that you read the early Church Writings so that you can fully understand and balance the claims of the Protestant Reformation (and the changes/schisms that continue to develop through its inception).

Conversely, think on the Foundation of the Church and the Promise of the Holy Spirit–if the Church failed, as the “reformation” suggests, does that not mean that Jesus was wrong:

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. 19 And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. (St. Matthew 16:18-19)

16 And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever. 17 The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you. (St. John 14:16-18)

It is Christ Himself that testifies that His Church will remain even against the gates of Hades (Hell) and that He will Send the Holy Spirit to abide (reside) in the Church–but not only that, Jesus Promises that He Himself will Remain with the Church (Christ’s Mystical Body)!

Maran atha!


Thank you, I ordered it and will read it soon.

Hi, MJ!
I also recommend that you read the early Church Writings so that you can fully understand and balance the claims of the Protestant Reformation (and the changes/schisms that continue to develop through its inception).

Thanks jc, I’ve read a smattering, mostly Ignatius’s letters. Enough to convince me about the Eucharist and the discipline of the early church (A strict rule of Bishops presiding over a congregation, who respected their Bishop, not a mass of splinter groups that eventually formed what we know as the church.) I plan to dig into it a bit more soon, especially when I go looking for documentation of prayer for the dead. That’s one missing link I haven’t quite nailed down yet.

It depends on which reformation you are speaking of. Luther, Zwingli, the Anabaptists were not the same movement or event, much less the Anglicans. I think if you are interested in the Lutheran side of things, you might want to read the Augsburg Confession, the Roman Confutation, and the Apology of the Augsburg Confession in sequence. You can find it online at


You can check council of Trent up on amazon.

Hi, MJ!
…on the issue of the dead consider both the Old Testament and the New Testament practice to hold a communion with the dead (not as in witchcraft and divinations, but as a means to reconcile the dead to God:

43 And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, 44 (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) 45 And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. 46 It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins. (2 Maccabees 12:43-46)

Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? (1 Corinthians 15:29)

…Jesus spoke about God’s Omniscience and Presence as:

31 And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken by God, saying to you:32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. (St. Matthew 22:31-32)

37 Now that the dead rise again, Moses also shewed, at the bush, when he called the Lord, The God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; 38 For he is not the God of the dead, but of the living: for all live to him. 39 And some of the scribes answering, said to him: Master, thou hast said well. (St. Luke 20:37-39)

May the Holy Spirit enlighten your path.

Maran atha!


In my thread about why Catholics believe in free will, someone directed me to the book of Sirach as an explicit defense of it. (A book my bible doesn’t contain.) I thought it suspicious that the Reformation would chose to exclude books that denied their personal convictions. And here again, *another *book that is excluded from my bible defends the ideas of prayers for the dead. Again, highly suspicious for a movement that was, in name, a “reformation” of the church. It’s looking a lot more like a rebellion.

Thank you, I now have a scriptural basis for prayers for the dead (as, at this point, I think my bible has been meddled with unnecessarily and will gladly accept the Catholic cannon). This passage makes Christ’s comments make more sense (though “baptism for the dead” still baffles me).

Are you awAre that not all Protestants reject free will and that not all reject prayers for the dead?


Completely, I was referring to the historical reformation. Namely Luther and Calvin’s opposition to free will. I know many protestants who believe in free will ( my current church is one of them) though I’ve never met any protestants who believed in prayers for the dead or in the intercession of saints. My sample size is rather low though, and I meant no offense.

Prayers for the dead…the OT roots…

And you may like this story from a Calvinist…

How John Calvin Made me a Catholic

Strangely, mastering Calvin didn’t lead me anywhere I expected. To begin with, I decided that I really didn’t like Calvin. I found him proud, judgmental and unyielding. But more importantly, I discovered that Calvin upset my Evangelical view of history. I had always assumed a perfect continuity between the Early Church, the Reformation and my Church. The more I studied Calvin, however, the more foreign he seemed, the less like Protestants today. This, in turn, caused me to question the whole Evangelical storyline: Early Church – Reformation – Evangelical Christianity, with one seamless thread running straight from one to the other. But what if Evangelicals really weren’t faithful to Calvin and the Reformation? The seamless thread breaks. And if it could break once, between the Reformation and today, why not sooner, between the Early Church and the Reformation? Was I really sure the thread had held even that far?

Calvin shocked me by rejecting key elements of my Evangelical tradition. Born-again spirituality, private interpretation of Scripture, a broad-minded approach to denominations – Calvin opposed them all. I discovered that his concerns were vastly different, more institutional, even more Catholic. Although he rejected the authority of Rome, there were things about the Catholic faith he never thought about leaving. He took for granted that the Church should have an interpretive authority, a sacramental liturgy and a single, unified faith.

These discoveries faced me with important questions. Why should Calvin treat these “Catholic things” with such seriousness? Was he right in thinking them so important? And if so, was he justified in leaving the Catholic Church? What did these discoveries teach me about Protestantism? How could my Church claim Calvin as a founder, and yet stray so far from his views? Was the whole Protestant way of doing theology doomed to confusion and inconsistency?

In the link below is the Augsburg Confession article on free will, affirmed by the confutators. Luther, too, approved this article. When it came to doctrine Luther’s view of free will matches that of the Augsburg Confession, which was affirmed by the confutators.
It is inaccurate to infer that Luther and Calvin were in agreement on free will, if that is in fact your view.


Hi, MJ!
…here’s the just of it:

Since the Jews had been exiled to Babylon the Torah (Pentateuch), Sacred Writings were translated into Greek because it was the legal language of the state. Eventually the Old Testament translated into Greek became known as the Septuagint (LXX). It was this translation which the Catholic Church adapted (73 books) as opposed to Hebrew Scriptures (66 books) since the New Testament demonstrates that the Septuagint was the source cited:

The Septuagint (from the Latin septuaginta, “seventy”) is a translation of the Hebrew Bible and some related texts into Koine Greek. As the primary Greek translation of the Old Testament, it is also called the Greek Old Testament. This translation is quoted a number of times in the New Testament,[1][2] particularly in Pauline epistles,[3] and also by the Apostolic Fathers and later Greek Church Fathers. (

As I understand it, there was no defined Jewish canon till after the Church adopted her Canon (based on the Septuagint); yet, regardless of the chronology (who came first) it has always struck me as more than interesting that the protestants rejected the Catholic Canon (which you have noted is self-evident of Doctrinal Teachings that contradict their claims), all 73 books, in favor of a canon, 66 books, set up/held by those who reject Jesus as the Messiah/Lord/King/God.

Thank you, I now have a scriptural basis for prayers for the dead (as, at this point, I think my bible has been meddled with unnecessarily and will gladly accept the Catholic cannon). This passage makes Christ’s comments make more sense (though “baptism for the dead” still baffles me).

Consider this–baptism for the dead developed as an outshoot from the prayer for the dead. The intent was to bring lost loved ones into the Fold–that is, into the Body of Christ.

Since the one place where it is cited in Scriptures does not mention it as a negative/erroneous Christian practice, we must accept this behavior as stemming from a Salvific concern–the dead were, as if to say, injected into the Body of Christ (in Christ’s Baptism we are dead to sin and Alive to God [paraphrased]); much like infants and children are Baptized having their parents and Godparents as their Faith proxies, Believers would receive a proxy Baptism for their dead loved ones–a practice that would eventually phase itself out as the Church would provide better directions through Doctrinal Teachings on both the language and behavior of Worship and Fellowship.

Maran atha!


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