the Church prior to Luther's Reformation


#1

how was it? what was the Church's situation before? I am referring to the timeline from its establishment by Christ in 33 AD up until the 1500s when Luther decided to make these so called "reforms." I mean, could you narrate some piece of history here? what do you think?

I would like to hear from the non-Catholic Christians here in CAF. thanks!


#2

St. Pius V made the biggest change by unifying the mass into 1 standard. Prior to Luther there were a number of different types of masses. I don’t have the exact references for this.


#3

Awfully large timespan you are talking about. I can suggest several books. Some specificity would help here.


#4

Apostles spread the Faith from France to India.

Church came under greater persecution as it grew, lots of martyrs and no public churches.

Constantine made Christianity legal, Church holds its first council, Catholic Faith begins to dominate the Mediterranean on all sides. Awesome churches begin to be built.

Lots of arguments with heretics and emperors in the East, Western Christianity becomes firmly rooted in the Latin language and the papacy helps rebuild the West after the fall of Rome. Monastics Christianize most of Europe and the Mass we know as the TLM takes shape.

Islam appears and conquers Christian Africa and the Christian Middle East. Church variously lapses into worldliness and regains holiness over the centuries, the schism of the East hits. Church preaches the first crusade to help the Eastern Orthodox and stop the Muslims.

New heresies arise in the west, paving the way for the Protestants. The West rediscovers modern science and the New World, massive wealth pours in, and another decline in faith and morality amongst Catholics. The papacy is distracted as a new global struggle for empire brings war to Italy.

A German monk decries problems in the Church and it seems like no one listens, so he decides the Church is evil, and the rest is history.


#5

Well put Rich !!!
Gotta love your concise history lesson.
Thank you :thumbsup:


#6

There is a book that I am reading titled The Church from Age to Age. This book can be found at Amazon in paper back ( 976 pages ) or in the Kindle format. It is worth a read.


#7

[quote="jamil_joseph02, post:1, topic:286877"]
how was it? what was the Church's situation before? I am referring to the timeline from its establishment by Christ in 33 AD up until the 1500s when Luther decided to make these so called "reforms." I mean, could you narrate some piece of history here? what do you think?

I would like to hear from the non-Catholic Christians here in CAF. thanks!

[/quote]

jamil,

That is a big question for which one needs a history book. I would recommend Paul Johnson's (Catholic) A History of Christianity, which reviewers say is the best one volume history of christianity.

Of course Luther did not intend to reform anything initially. He noticed his parish members coming to him with the issue of indulgences being sold by the church. He got upset and wrote his 95 theses and nailed them to the church door at Wittenburg for the purpose of debating that issue. The rest is history.

Perhaps pick out a part of history to discuss and maybe we can get our arms around it. But such a big subject as all history before Luther is a huge subject.

Rob


#8

A very good post, however the circumstances in the early 16th century were not so simple.

The church had a variety of serious problems, which had been ongoing for a long time. Everyone knew this, the Council of Lateran V was called with the purpose of dealing with these issues. Unfortunately, the hierarchy lacked the will to tackle the big problems, partly (or even mostly) because they themselves actually *were *the problem to a great extent.

Problems like simony were endemic, Archbishops and Cardinals were up to their own necks in it. There was also a general malaise and skepticism among the clergy, particularly in Rome. Father Martin, a devout (and excessively scrupulous) monk was sent by his order, the Augustinians, to Rome and the clergy of that city shocked him deeply by their impiety.

Something had gone terribly wrong.

This is what ‘causing scandal’ is all about. Sometimes we read that the church did such and such to ‘avoid causing scandal’, but what is often meant is that an effort must be made to prevent a real problem from becoming apparent to the public, which could cause the faithful to become scandalized and potentially faithless.

Father Martin was scandalized. The church lost credibility, not only with him, but with many other Roman Catholics in those days who had also been greatly scandalized. The faithful all over Europe were roiling and boiling with anxiety over the state of their church, literally for generations. This was to have terrible results, especially after the utter failure of Lateran V.

For when the church itself loses credibility, the flock become open to different ideas and ways of thinking they would never have contemplated before.

Let us not forget that nearly all of the first generation of Protestant Reformers were Roman Catholic priests, trained at RC seminaries or monasteries and ordained by the hands of RC bishops because they were found worthy and needed for this noble calling. They were idealists in a church whose leadership (right at that time) needed to supress idealism. For the devout there was no safety valve allowed.

Just as an overheated boiler with a malfunctioning safety valve will burst, the suppression and obstruction of reform efforts ruptured the church.


#9

[quote="submariner2, post:7, topic:286877"]
jamil,

That is a big question for which one needs a history book. I would recommend Paul Johnson's (Catholic) A History of Christianity, which reviewers say is the best one volume history of christianity.

Of course Luther did not intend to reform anything initially. He noticed his parish members coming to him with the issue of indulgences being sold by the church. He got upset and wrote his 95 theses and nailed them to the church door at Wittenburg for the purpose of debating that issue. The rest is history.

Perhaps pick out a part of history to discuss and maybe we can get our arms around it. But such a big subject as all history before Luther is a huge subject.

Rob

[/quote]

Well, I've asked this because I've heard some Protestants disagree that the Catholic church was the one Christ founded. I've also heard some make a claim that Constantine was responsible for the "introduction of paganism" in Christianity.

So if the Catholic Church with which Luther was protesting to is not the true Church, then what happened to that Church Christ founded and how did the Catholic church "overcame" it?

What are your reasons for agreeing or not agreeing with these claims?

But if you agree that Jesus founded the Catholic Church, then I wonder, why not be Catholic at all?


#10

[quote="jamil_joseph02, post:9, topic:286877"]
Well, I've asked this because I've heard some Protestants disagree that the Catholic church was the one Christ founded. I've also heard some make a claim that Constantine was responsible for the "introduction of paganism" in Christianity.

So if the Catholic Church with which Luther was protesting to is not the true Church, then what happened to that Church Christ founded and how did the Catholic church "overcame" it?

What are your reasons for agreeing or not agreeing with these claims?

But if you agree that Jesus founded the Catholic Church, then I wonder, why not be Catholic at all?

[/quote]

A statement like "the Catholic Church is the one Christ founded" is not as simple as it sounds.

What Catholics mean by it is something like "there is a divine essence to the Church, imparted to it by Christ, which has uniquely persisted within those Christian communities who are in union with the successor of St. Peter and not, at least in the same way, in other communities." If one believes this, then one should be Catholic. (I more or less believe this, or at least find it highly persuasive, so I probably should be Catholic:o.)

On the other hand, one could also mean something like "the religious body identified by its union with the Pope and calling itself the Catholic Church is identical in every respect, essential or accidental, with the community founded by Jesus." That claim is obviously false. No one who thinks it through believes it.

In between these two claims is the obvious fact that four Christian communions presently in existence (the "Catholic Church," the "Orthodox Church," the "Oriental Orthodox churches," and the "Church of the East") have a kind and degree of continuity with early "Catholic" Christianity that other churches do not have (including even Anglicanism, which can probably make the best claim of the other Christian communities).

And then, of course, we have the question of how the early Catholic Church (from which these four "apostolic" communions derive) related to other early groups calling themselves Christian, none of which have survived to this day.

As you note, some folks (fundamentalists and Mormons, mostly) believe that the early Church apostasized at some point, and either was eventually restored (the Mormon view, held by some more orthodox groups as well in some form or another) or somehow persisted in an underground and/or spiritual, individualized form.

A second, more nuanced view, held mostly by conservative Reformed or Lutheran Protestants, is that the original Church slowly became more corrupt, until, in a state of serious corruption, it was reformed by the early Protestants. Those Catholics who rejected these reforms and embraced the teachings of the Council of Trent would then be apostates, leaving Protestants as the true "Catholics" (and what of the Eastern churches? answers vary.). This is probably the view that best represents the teachings of the original Reformers, though they weren't entirely consistent.

Most modern Protestants, however, don't believe either of these things. They believe that all churches that hold to basic Christian beliefs (most commonly identified with the Apostles' Creed) are continuations of the Church Christ founded, and that none of these churches is perfect or infallible. So one can say that the Catholic Church is in continuity with the Church Christ founded in its essentials, without saying that one should become Catholic--because there's no reason to abandon whatever other church one belongs to, which is also in continuity with the original Church, and may have "purer" doctrine or better practices in one way or another.

This last view isn't as completely contrary to the Catholic view as the polemic one hears on this forum would have one believe. Vatican II's language of imperfect participation, the Church as the pilgrim people of God, etc., leaves a good deal of room for something like this third, ecumenical view. The bottom line, however, is that the Catholic Church claims to be infallible in its central doctrinal/moral tenets and basic liturgical practices, and furthermore claims that all Christians (once rightly informed) are obligated to seek union with the bishop of Rome.

Edwin


#11

jamil,

I agree that Jesus founded our church. That is in scripture. Catholic means universal (all of us). My church is also catholic. We recite the apostles creed every sunday. I dont think Luther was protesting against a church but rather against practices that he thought were wrong. Read his 95 theses and I think you will agree with me.

Rob


#12

That definition doesn’t make sense as it stands. Who are “us”? Christians? How do you define “Christians”? And where does that definition come from?

Essentially, you are saying that Christian=Catholic. If you are a Christian you are a Catholic, period. But that leads to some tough questions:

Are Mormons Catholic? Are JWs Catholic? Were the original Unitarians Catholic? (I say “original,” because many modern Unitarians don’t claim to be Christians.) I think we can all agree no. The standard conservative Protestant view is that these folks are not Christians. What that means is that it is possible to claim to be Christian and to hold certain distinctively Christian beliefs (like the resurrection of Jesus) without being a Christian in the sense equivalent with Catholic.

So look at this from the other side.

In the early Church, Christians seem initially to have agreed with you, but not in the way you’d like. They seem to have believed that if you weren’t part of the one “Catholic” church, you weren’t really a Christian. Over time Catholics developed a more nuanced view.

Edwin


#13

As I understand it, the word catholic in the bible comes from the Greek katholikos, from phrase kath’ holou “on the whole, in general,”

Our Roman Catholic friends would like us to think that it means specifically their Catholic Church - but our Orthodox friends would also take acceptation to that.


#14

Well, of course it contained the traditions which came from the time when Christ handed authority to the Apostles.


#15

Wow, that’s considerably distorted and incorrect.


#16

Contarini;9377034]That definition doesn't make sense as it stands. Who are "us"? Christians? How do you define "Christians"? And where does that definition come from?

Essentially, you are saying that Christian=Catholic. If you are a Christian you are a Catholic, period. But that leads to some tough questions:

Contarini,

I mean those who accept Jesus as their savior and Lord as taught in scripture.
Catholic means universal so all christians are part of the catholic church in my mind.

Are Mormons Catholic? Are JWs Catholic? Were the original Unitarians Catholic? (I say "original," because many modern Unitarians don't claim to be Christians.) I think we can all agree no. The standard conservative Protestant view is that these folks are not Christians. What that means is that it is possible to claim to be Christian and to hold certain distinctively Christian beliefs (like the resurrection of Jesus) without being a Christian in the sense equivalent with Catholic.

Like the Archbisop of Washington I saw on TV recently I will say that I do not define others. I just define myself. Our pastor does not inquire on denomination of anyone. Communion is described and all invited who want to commune with Jesus are invited.
I like that. I think Jesus would approve.

So look at this from the other side.

In the early Church, Christians seem initially to have agreed with you, but not in the way you'd like. They seem to have believed that if you weren't part of the one "Catholic" church, you weren't really a Christian. Over time Catholics developed a more nuanced view.

They were concerned with the Gnostics. I follow the NT and not habits of other chrisitans.
There is no approval of excommunication for doctrinal resons in the NT.

Rob


#17

[quote="submariner2, post:16, topic:286877"]
Our pastor does not inquire on denomination of anyone. Communion is described and all invited who want to commune with Jesus are invited. I like that. I think Jesus would approve.

[/quote]

I'm not sure it's simply a matter of wanting to commune with Jesus:

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. (1 Corinthians 11)

I would not advise a baptist--even if he or she were baptized as an infant in the CC--to partake of communion at a Catholic Church. I'd be afraid of him or her sinning against the body and blood of the Lord because they view it merely as a symbol, "without discerning the body of Christ."

There is no approval of excommunication for doctrinal resons in the NT.

7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. (2 John)

9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. **After that, have nothing to do with them. **11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned. (Titus 3)

6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. (2 Thessalonians)


#18

[quote="Koineman, post:17, topic:286877"]
I'm not sure it's simply a matter of wanting to commune with Jesus:

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. (1 Corinthians 11)

I would not advise a baptist--even if he or she were baptized as an infant in the CC--to partake of communion at a Catholic Church. I'd be afraid of him or her sinning against the body and blood of the Lord because they view it merely as a symbol, "without discerning the body of Christ."

[/quote]

I'm not sure if your understanding of "discerning the body of Christ" is correct. I know Paul claimed that failure to discern the body of Christ was the reason why many among the Corinthian church were weak and sick and why some had even died. I have heard that about half of American Catholics view the Eucharistic elements as mere symbols (not the real body of Christ)...let's call them BCs (for baptist style Catholics). I also understand from my Catholic friends that Easter and Christmas Masses are attended by a much greater percentage of the Catholics...as even casual Catholics attend (I expect BCs enjoy a higher percentage in these twice a year Catholics). So if your understanding is right and if God still acts in the same manner as he did back in Paul's day, then we should expect the following:

a) BCs turning up at the emergency rooms to a much greater degree than conservative Catholics.

b) the emergency rooms to be flooded with BCs after Christmas and Easter Masses; and

c) a much shorter life expectancy for BCs than conservative Catholics.

In Catholic dominated countries (such as Ireland or Italy....assuming BCs abound there also) these differences should be easily discerned...but I haven't heard of any physician making the connection....so what gives? Do you think God still cares, but just doesn't bother any more? Does God spread out the disciplining of the BCs throughout the week and the year (and inflict conservative Catholics with similar illnesses) so that the discipline for not discerning the body is hidden? If so, how does hidden disciplining serve its purpose? Or, could it be that your understanding of that phrase is in error? We could debate the text for the rest of our lives, but the statistics could be an objective measure...what do you think?


#19

[quote="Prosmith, post:15, topic:286877"]
Wow, that's considerably distorted and incorrect.

[/quote]

I see that you are new here, Prosmith. Welcome. Your assessment is spot on, but unfortunately you'll need to get used to that sort of presentation of "history" if you stay here much longer.


#20

[quote="Radical, post:18, topic:286877"]
I'm not sure if your understanding of "discerning the body of Christ" is correct. ... So if your understanding is right and if God still acts in the same manner as he did back in Paul's day, then we should expect the following:

a) BCs turning up at the emergency rooms to a much greater degree than conservative Catholics.

b) the emergency rooms to be flooded with BCs after Christmas and Easter Masses; and

c) a much shorter life expectancy for BCs than conservative Catholics.

[/quote]

I don't think it's a good idea to interpret what Scripture means through the lens of what we see in our current day. Our observations of current events in the church are probably incomplete or even inaccurate to one degree or another. I think it's much better to interpret what Paul meant by viewing it in light of its immediate context. If I am incorrect because I have failed to do that, please, by all means, point it out.


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