That Pre-Reformation Theological Unity


#1

Frequently on this Forum one encounters statements to the effect that the Church was unified theologically prior to the Reformation, and that Luther came along and shattered the calm.

Banana boats! (Pardon the mild language) !

The Church did not rule on the subject of justification from the Council of Orange until Trent, and left a thousand year silence in which all kinds of theories came to fruition and were intensely debated. There was no ONE theory of justification. Luther’s theories on justification were, up until Trent, at least as valid as any other Catholic theologian’s. He was, after all, a professor of theology.

On this thread I propose to debate whether there was, in the centuries preceding the Reformation, a unity on the doctrine and practice of justification held by the Catholic Church. I will take the position there was no such unity.

Prove me wrong.


#2

Hi, Truthstalker. I think you’d need to define “unity” a bit more strictly. Do you mean “unity” as (1) a general consensus, or as (2) a unity such that no prominent or semi-prominent figure in all of Christendom disagreed with it?

I don’t know if the latter could be proven, on virtually any topic, not just justification.


#3

This thread could be interesting. I have minimal knowledge here, but I look forward to seeing where this goes.

cpayne> Why don’t you start with the easier premise to prove, keeping in mind that it wasn’t necessarily the intent of the original poster. If you can’t at least prove that, then trying for the harder point would be pointless.


#4

Hi cp!

Then let’s go with the former.


#5

…the Church was unified theologically prior to the Reformation, and that Luther came along and shattered the calm.

As a Catholic, I refute this claim as a being a Catholic position taken as you have stated it. First of all, prior to the Reformation, the Orthodox were not united to the Catholic Church. Secondly, unity is defined as those in union with the Roman Pontiff. The Church is One. Always has been and always will be.

Is the Church disunified theologically or has it ever been? No.

Are there Christians who are or ever have been separated from a unified theological position who are outside the Church? Yes.

Note: Keep in mind that having differing opinions on theology is different than not being unified theologically.

I could take a theological position on something that is different from my wife (for example how literal to take the creation story) yet we would still be united theologically. But if our views differed on something that must be upheld as Christian Truth (for example, the Trinitarian nature of God), that would be a point of disunity.

On this thread I propose to debate whether there was, in the centuries preceding the Reformation, a unity on the doctrine and practice of justification held by the Catholic Church. I will take the position there was no such unity.

I take the position that it is irrelevent. If you are united to the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church you will trust that the Church will not err in such a matter and take the humble stance that perhaps your position was wrong.


#6

I would assume that the original post is in response to the claim I’ve seen repeatedly on this forum, which reads something like…

“The Catholic Church has always taught the same thing, for 2000 years. It wasn’t until 1500 years after Christ that anyone disputed this. Since Christ wouldn’t allow his church to be in error for 1500 years, we know that the Roman Catholic Church must be right.”

This doesn’t account for all the schisms between Rome and other churches throughout all of history. It also assumes that modern Rome teaches all of the same theology that was taught back in Luther’s day, when there isn’t really any evidence to believe this. As the original poster mentioned, Luther was credible enough that many a Roman Catholic believed him. If Luther’s teaching was so heretical, where’s the Roman Catholic teachings that contradict all he taught?

Instead, it appears that Rome’s reaction wasn’t based on him being a heretic, but it was based on the fact that he was yet another in a long line of schismatics who somehow disagreed with the Roman pope…


#7

[quote=PC Master]I would assume that the original post is in response to the claim I’ve seen repeatedly on this forum, which reads something like…

“The Catholic Church has always taught the same thing, for 2000 years. It wasn’t until 1500 years after Christ that anyone disputed this. Since Christ wouldn’t allow his church to be in error for 1500 years, we know that the Roman Catholic Church must be right.”

This doesn’t account for all the schisms between Rome and other churches throughout all of history.

[/quote]

Yes, it does.

[quote=PC Master]It also assumes that modern Rome teaches all of the same theology that was taught back in Luther’s day, when there isn’t really any evidence to believe this.
[/quote]

This assumes that Catholic theology is monolithic.

[quote=PC Master]As the original poster mentioned, Luther was credible enough that many a Roman Catholic believed him. If Luther’s teaching was so heretical, where’s the Roman Catholic teachings that contradict all he taught?
[/quote]

Start here:

Exsurge Domine
Bull of Pope Leo X issued June 15, 1520

[quote=PC Master]Instead, it appears that Rome’s reaction wasn’t based on him being a heretic, but it was based on the fact that he was yet another in a long line of schismatics who somehow disagreed with the Roman pope.
[/quote]

And the difference is… ?


#8

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