The Reformation...reforming to What?


#1

The Reformers, or at least Luther, claimed to be fighting abuses in the Church. Why, then, did Luther not address the abuses without trying to change Doctrine? But then again, Luther did not claim to ONLY be fighting abuses, he also claimed that many of the Church’s Doctrines were wrong.

But what did he, and other Reformers, base this on? The Papacy, the Sacrament of Penance(aka Reconciliation/Confession), Scripture AND Tradition, etc…were rejected by all the Reformers…but on what precedent, or on based on what standard, on what authority?

And the main point I'd like to drive home is this: Either the Reformers “reformed” back to what Christianity had been from the beginning…in which case we should see some early Christian writings that support their doctrines…or they changed what Christianity had always been…in which case we should be able to see some proof of their authority to do this. Right?


#2

Did you only just now realise protestantism is false?


#3

[quote="Credo_ergo_sum, post:2, topic:289660"]
Did you only just now realise protestantism is false?

[/quote]

NO! :) No, what I'm am trying to do is understand how a protestant can justify a belief that what the "Reformers" did was correct. If protestants believe that the "Reformers" were right to do what they did...then I want to see why they believe this.

Like I said, Either the Reformers “reformed” back to what Christianity had been from the beginning…in which case we should see some early Christian writings that support their doctrines…or they changed what Christianity had always been…in which case we should be able to see some proof of their authority to do this.

The fact is, we DON'T see any early writings supporting ANY of the "reformed" beliefs. Neither so we see any source of authority from which the Reformers could draw from to make the changes they made...which were indeed changes...because we see the earliest Christians believing the exact same things (Doctrinally) as Catholics did in the 16th century (and to present day).


#4

[quote="ahs, post:3, topic:289660"]
NO! :) No, what I'm am trying to do is understand how a protestant can justify a belief that what the "Reformers" did was correct. If protestants believe that the "Reformers" were right to do what they did...then I want to see why they believe this.

Like I said, Either the Reformers “reformed” back to what Christianity had been from the beginning…in which case we should see some early Christian writings that support their doctrines…or they changed what Christianity had always been…in which case we should be able to see some proof of their authority to do this.

The fact is, we DON'T see any early writings supporting ANY of the "reformed" beliefs. Neither so we see any source of authority from which the Reformers could draw from to make the changes they made...which were indeed changes...because we see the earliest Christians believing the exact same things (Doctrinally) as Catholics did in the 16th century (and to present day).

[/quote]

The answer is conspiracy theories. They would suggest that those writings where written or edited centuries later or that the Church Fathers were apostates and the writings of the 'bible-believing christians' from the first few centuries burned.


#5

[quote="ahs, post:3, topic:289660"]
NO! :) No, what I'm am trying to do is understand how a protestant can justify a belief that what the "Reformers" did was correct. If protestants believe that the "Reformers" were right to do what they did...then I want to see why they believe this.

Like I said, Either the Reformers “reformed” back to what Christianity had been from the beginning…in which case we should see some early Christian writings that support their doctrines…or they changed what Christianity had always been…in which case we should be able to see some proof of their authority to do this.

The fact is, we DON'T see any early writings supporting ANY of the "reformed" beliefs. Neither so we see any source of authority from which the Reformers could draw from to make the changes they made...which were indeed changes...because we see the earliest Christians believing the exact same things (Doctrinally) as Catholics did in the 16th century (and to present day).

[/quote]

calledtocommunion.com/2012/02/an-opc-pastor-enters-the-catholic-church/

Maybe a book recommended here in this story (link above), which I will cite (the book is on my reading list):

As I began to dig down to the most foundational differences dividing Protestants and Catholic, the book The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism by Louis Bouyer was recommended to me. Bouyer was a Lutheran minister who converted to Catholicism mid-last century.................What piqued my interest now was the peculiar thesis of this one book. Bouyer claimed that the Catholic Church is necessary for the full flowering of the principles of the Reformation. Put differently – Protestantism needs Catholicism in order to become all it aspires to be, which, of course, if true means the Protestant Reformation was completely unnecessary. Worse, it means that the Reformation was impossible from the outset because the reformers had unwittingly cut themselves off from the only source that could make their vision fruitful. To my Reformed and Presbyterian ears this sounded more than strange. Given my understanding of Catholic teaching, Bouyer’s idea was akin to saying a terminal illness is integral to the full flowering of bodily health. Or a fire is best fueled by depriving it of oxygen. Or the growth of a plant is impossible without rooting it in infertile soil. In my mind, Bouyer’s absurdity had to be explained, so I picked up the book and read.


#6

The Reformation did help the RC Church. I believe the RC church calls it the "Counter Reformation" where many RC practices were defined.

In addition, it will never be possible to reform the RC church due to Papal/Magesterial Infalibility. If the RC church reformed any doctrine than it would be admitting error and the church will never do that.


#7

If every protestant actually looked into their church history and studied theology then there wouldn't be any protestants. The only problem is that they get their understanding from their bible studies and whatever their parents and pastor so and so tells them is absolute law. They have nothing credible to fall back on because historically speaking, spiritually speaking and theologically speaking, protestantism has no foundation. It crumbles in the light of Truth and reasoning. For some people they are just ignorant of the Truth and it's our job to try and find a way to break through that programming that was instilled in them as children to share the light of Christ with them and call them to Communion with the Lord. For others they are too full of pride to acknowledge they are wrong (keep in mind pride is hardly exclusive to protestants, many Catholics suffer from this as well as I'm sure everyone would openly agree too). It's a long battle and a slippery slope but we have Christ and the Holy Spirit on our side guiding our actions. They are seeking Christ as much as any one of us. We just have to pray that in their life time they can find a way to break through the block of protestantism they are stuck at, that they might freely come to Christ and join His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, as was His will.


#8

That's not entirely true, the Reformed/Presbyterian community relies heavily on Church History and the Church Fathers.

I agree to an extent. Many RC's and Protestants have a very shallow knowledge of their faith in regards to history. But to say that the Protestants don't have history is like erasing the church up until the Reformation. Protestantism was birthed out of the RC church excommunicating the reformers.

It was not the reformers purpose to split the church but to take it back to how the early church was before corruption crept in. Anyone would be very ignorant (i don't mean that in a bad way) to deny the corruption that was rampant in the church during the middle ages.


#9

[quote="_DLM, post:8, topic:289660"]
It was not the reformers purpose to split the church but to take it back to how the early church was before corruption crept in. Anyone would be very ignorant (i don't mean that in a bad way) to deny the corruption that was rampant in the church during the middle ages.

[/quote]

Sure, there were elements of corruption and many things in the Church did, indeed, need correction. Martin Luther, for example, learned that there were brothels which had clergy as their exclusive clientele. But as the OP pointed out, the Reformers felt that the correction needed to involve doctrine as well. There is, after all, a big difference in saying that it was wrong for the clergy to visit brothels and to say that...

...there is no Purgatory
...marriage is not a sacrament
...the saints in heaven are incapable of intervening on our behalf
...Sola Scriptura is the test for doctrinal validity
(etc.)


#10

Hi there, SP,

I find your thoughts interesting, but I don’t think they are accurate reflections of where many protestants are in their faith journey.

If every protestant actually looked into their church history and studied theology then there wouldn’t be any protestants. The only problem is that they get their understanding from their bible studies and whatever their parents and pastor so and so tells them is absolute law.

There are many protestants who are quite familiar with church history and theology who are convinced that they are on the right path. If anything, it is a characteristic of protestants to resist accepting a teaching just because someone in authority tells them it is so. This is a blessing and a curse. Questioning of doctrine or authority is not a bad thing as it leads to greater understanding. Of course, we can certainly find examples where it has led to error.

They have nothing credible to fall back on because historically speaking, spiritually speaking and theologically speaking, protestantism has no foundation. It crumbles in the light of Truth and reasoning.

It’s probably good to remember that the basis for what most protestants believe is what has been taught by the church from the beginning and which is summarized rather well in the three ecumenical creeds. The first fifteen centuries of Christian history have not been erased from protestant memory.

For some people they are just ignorant of the Truth and it’s our job to try and find a way to break through that programming that was instilled in them as children to share the light of Christ with them and call them to Communion with the Lord. For others they are too full of pride to acknowledge they are wrong (keep in mind pride is hardly exclusive to protestants, many Catholics suffer from this as well as I’m sure everyone would openly agree too).

I appreciate your zeal for bringing protestants to the Truth, but there are probably many from the protestant side who are equally zealous for bringing Catholics to the Truth. For the present, my hope is that we can all find a common ground, perhaps in the creeds, and work from there. There is truth in all expressions of Christianity, even though we don’t always see it. I recall a quote from a Lutheran theologian who was asked if Lutherans had the Truth – his response was something like “yes, but we aren’t the only ones who have it.”

It’s a long battle and a slippery slope but we have Christ and the Holy Spirit on our side guiding our actions. They are seeking Christ as much as any one of us. We just have to pray that in their life time they can find a way to break through the block of protestantism they are stuck at, that they might freely come to Christ and join His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, as was His will.

I’m sure you are aware that protestants, of every stripe, are equally convinced that they have Christ and the Holy Spirit on their side and guiding their actions. And, you are right, all protestants are seeking Christ just as all Catholics seek him. None reject him.

Just a few thoughts from a Lutheran who holds the Catholic Church in respect even as I live out my faith where I am.


#11

[quote="_DLM, post:8, topic:289660"]
That's not entirely true, the Reformed/Presbyterian community relies heavily on Church History and the Church Fathers.

[/quote]

I'm not quite sure what you mean. Are you saying that the Reformers themselves researched and relied upon Church history and the ECFs (when formulating their teachings on Christianity) or that, generally speaking, it is the practice of today's Protestants to do this?


#12

Beautiful testimony! I love the fact that he put his preconcieved notions aside and set out to find Truth.

They do [rely heavily on Church history and the ECF’s]? Perhaps they really do…yet they don’t take in the full context of the writings if this is so? The article Pablope linked actually addresses this exact point.

At any rate, if the reformers’ purpose was to take the Church back where it had been, then why do we not see any of the reformed theology represented in the “back then” history? Where did the ECF’s, or Christ for that matter, teach “sola scriptura” or “sola fide”? Did corruption in the Church justify changing the Doctrines of Christianity…or did it only justify addressing the corruption?

Yes, that.

I realize this was addressed to someone else, but, Yes! It is important to find a common ground and proceed from there. I think that understanding what the reformers are understood to have been workign toward, compared to what they actually did, and how they went about it, will help shed some light on that…somehow…

DLM, I also am kinda confused on that point.


#13

[quote="EricFilmer, post:11, topic:289660"]
I'm not quite sure what you mean. Are you saying that the Reformers themselves researched and relied upon Church history and the ECFs (when formulating their teachings on Christianity) or that, generally speaking, it is the practice of today's Protestants to do this?

[/quote]

The Reformers themselves, were as familiar with the ECF's as any RC at the time. Of course Luther was a very intelligent man who studied his entire life.

Specifically, what I was saying was that the ECF's and their teachings are relied upon heavily in the Reformed Tradition. I am not saying that all Reformed/Presbyterians are familiar with the EFC's teachings the same way not all RC's are familiar with EFC's.


#14

[quote="_DLM, post:13, topic:289660"]
The Reformers themselves, were as familiar with the ECF's as any RC at the time. Of course Luther was a very intelligent man who studied his entire life.

Specifically, what I was saying was that the ECF's and their teachings are relied upon heavily in the Reformed Tradition.

[/quote]

I'm sorry but I am still not sure what you mean by "relied upon heavily". I'm not trying to come across as being obstinate, but I simply don't see how a group of Reformers relied heavily upon the ECFs when formulating their particular Christian teachings and yet still came up with the principle of Sola Scriptura. So please clarify exactly what the Reformer's process of relying heavily upon the ECFs involved (taking Sola Scriptura into consideration).

I am not saying that all Reformed/Presbyterians are familiar with the EFC's teachings the same way not all RC's are familiar with EFC's.

I agree that there is a notable lack of knowledge and appreciation of Patristics among both Catholics and Protestants. (Of course I'm speaking generally here)


#15

I believed it because it’s what I had been taught, I had been educated in effective ways of defending it to myself, and was unable (or unwilling) to examine the false presuppositions and incoherent reasoning of the position.


#16

[quote="EricFilmer, post:14, topic:289660"]
I'm sorry but I am still not sure what you mean by "relied upon heavily". I'm not trying to come across as being obstinate, but I simply don't see how a group of Reformers relied heavily upon the ECFs when formulating their particular Christian teachings and yet still came up with the principle of Sola Scriptura. So please clarify exactly what the Reformer's process of relying heavily upon the ECFs involved (taking Sola Scriptura into consideration).

I agree that there is a notable lack of knowledge and appreciation of Patristics among both Catholics and Protestants. (Of course I'm speaking generally here)

[/quote]

Reformers relied upon the teaching the same way many RC's rely upon their teaching now. I don't understand where I am missing you here. By rely I mean learned from.

For example: Many ECF's spoke of Sola Fide, below is a quote from Clement of Rome from another great Christian form at CARM.org

Clement of Rome (c. 30-100): “And we [Christians], too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”[Clement Alexandria. Epistle to the Corinthians.]

Check out this site for more information: carm.org/intro-ecf


#17

[quote="_DLM, post:16, topic:289660"]
Reformers relied upon the teaching the same way many RC's rely upon their teaching now.

[/quote]

There is a big distinction between the two. Catholics see elaborations upon both Scripture and Sacred Tradition within the writings of the ECFs. Generally speaking, Protestants accept the former but reject the latter (for the simple fact that they reject the notion that God's revelation can exist in Sacred Tradition apart from Scripture).

I don't understand where I am missing you here. By rely I mean learned from.

Here's what is missing. You seem to be saying (or implying) that the Reformers heavily utilized Patristics (i.e. the writings of the ECFs) when formulating their particular teachings about Christianity. But at the same time they formulated the principle of Sola Scriptura which states not to rely upon Patristics (or any other extra-biblical material) for the purposes of formulating doctrine. After all, Sola Scriptura means "Scripture Alone"; the Reformers did not teach "Scripture and Patristics Alone."

Therefore (at least in terms of doctrine) the notion that the Reformers heavily relied upon Patristics and also formulated the principle of Sola Scriptura is contradictory. Or at least it is contradictory as far as I can tell. Therefore, if I have gotten this wrong, I ask you to explain why there is not a contradiction. I will remind you that in Post #14 I asked you to take Sola Scriptura into consideration in your response, but for whatever reason you have not yet done that.

For example: Many ECF's spoke of Sola Fide, below is a quote from Clement of Rome...

But a Reformer may quote an ECF when the topic is an elaboration on Scripture, but that's as far as he would take it. Note that, for the Reformers, the foundation of Sola Fide is not a matter of Patristic teaching, but rather they see it as being biblical. Let me ask you this, do you think the Reformers would have taught Sola Fide if there were no biblical basis for it, and they only had Clement and other ECFs to refer to?

Also keep in mind that the Reformers seemed to be very selective in terms of what they accepted and rejected from the ECFs. Here, for example, are some quotes from the ECFs concerning Purgatory. Obviously the Reformers did not "heavily rely" upon the ECFs when discerning whether or not the doctrine of Purgatory was valid.


#18

[quote="_DLM, post:16, topic:289660"]
Reformers relied upon the teaching the same way many RC's rely upon their teaching now...

For example: Many ECF's spoke of Sola Fide, below is a quote from Clement of Rome from another great Christian form at CARM.org

Clement of Rome (c. 30-100): “And we [Christians], too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”[Clement Alexandria. Epistle to the Corinthians.]

Check out this site for more information: carm.org/intro-ecf

[/quote]

This doesn't show that the Reformers relied on the ECF's at all. (By the way, that is taking his words out of context...I recommend you actually read the REST of it...there are 2 of those, and neither will say "faith alone"...but arguing that is another topic for another day).

If they relied so heavily on Clement, then the Reformers would also have taught Clement's position on the Pope. Yet they rejected Papal Authority...so, no, they did not rely heavily, or at all, on the ECF's. In fact, as Eric Filmer points out, to do so would have undermined sola scriptura. Even the most tradition-friendly (if I may say this) of the Reformers taught that, while Tradition was of value, that it was subject to Scripture. So, at best, the Reformers might have used some of the Patristics as an afterthought that seemingly supported their case...a case which would have had to be based on the sole authority of Scripture. (Notice that Scripture actually says "...not by faith alone...". So I doubt they even relied on Scripture at all for sola fide, but rather it was a knee-jerk reaction to do away with the Sacrament of Penance which "solved" (in their minds) the abuse regarding the selling of indulgences.)

In addressing some abuses, the Reformers ALSO changed Christian Doctrine. So,

1- Either the Reformers “reformed” back to what Christianity had been from the beginning…in which case we should see some early Christian writings that support their doctrines…which is actually impossible in light of sola scriptura...and which can also be rejected in light of the fact that much of what the ECF's taught was rejected outright by the Reformers (Papacy, Visible Church, Christ's real presence under the appearance of bread and wine, the Sacraments, etc...)...

2- ...or they changed what Christianity had always been…in which case we should be able to see some proof of their authority to do this...


#19

[quote="_DLM, post:13, topic:289660"]
The Reformers themselves, were as familiar with the ECF's as any RC at the time. Of course Luther was a very intelligent man who studied his entire life.

Specifically, what I was saying was that the ECF's and their teachings are relied upon heavily in the Reformed Tradition. I am not saying that all Reformed/Presbyterians are familiar with the EFC's teachings the same way not all RC's are familiar with EFC's.

[/quote]

Luther did not study religion all his life, IMHO, just one of his issues which the church later reformed was that his religious education was limited (besides his having a lot of personal issues). Luther was briefly in law school and dropped out prior to entering the abbey and become a practicing Monk in less than 2 years. And this is after entering the abbey because of an oath to God to do so if he would be not killed during a lightening storm. Luther is easy to pick on because his words are so well documented. Much can be said about his character, and a lot of it is not good. Intelligence and studying doesn't necessarily lead to truth, and certainly not the fullness of truth. There are Mormons who would be an extreme example of this.

Most of my Protestant friends have little to no knowledge of the early church and go back and ask their pastor why their church teaches what they believe. An example would be the real presence in the Eucharist. When confronted with scripture, they often don't have an answer. And those that think they know scripture twist it to arrive at their beliefs, often with a hardened heart.


#20

=Porknpie;9464546]Luther did not study religion all his life, IMHO, just one of his issues which the church later reformed was that his religious education was limited (besides his having a lot of personal issues). Luther was briefly in law school and dropped out prior to entering the abbey and become a practicing Monk in less than 2 years. And this is after entering the abbey because of an oath to God to do so if he would be not killed during a lightening storm. Luther is easy to pick on because his words are so well documented. Much can be said about his character, and a lot of it is not good. Intelligence and studying doesn’t necessarily lead to truth, and certainly not the fullness of truth. There are Mormons who would be an extreme example of this.

I’m not sure what you are implying here, but Luther’s religious education was extensive, culminating in a doctorate of theology.
Luther was a man - with flaws, some of them glaring, and more glaring because his writings are voluminous . And that makes him - a man in need of a savior, just like you and me.

Most of my Protestant friends have little to no knowledge of the early church and go back and ask their pastor why their church teaches what they believe. An example would be the real presence in the Eucharist. When confronted with scripture, they often don’t have an answer.

You are speaking of laity here. There are lots of Catholics who would be in the same position. And ISTM that going back to their church is exactly where they should go to understand what their church teaches (and it seems contradictory to the oft-heard apologetic here deriding individual interpretation). It is what you do - the Catholic Catechism, and its what I do - The Book of Concord.

And those that think they know scripture twist it to arrive at their beliefs, often with a hardened heart.

The statement saying they twist scripture is an opinion, and how do you know they have a hardened heart? ISTM the first thing we need to recognize in each other is a sincerity of faith.

Jon


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