The Reformers Taught WHAT?!

This thread’s purpose is to compile information for apologetics, which is why it is here instead of the non-Catholic section. But, Moderators, you won’t hurt my feelings if you feel it is better over there. :slight_smile:

I not rarely have an opportunity to share with a fundamentalist-type Christian what the “pillars of the reformation” ACTUALLY believed when discussing particularly “Catholic” doctrines. Sadly, I also not rarely lack proper citations so the message doesn’t come off as credible as it could.

Here are some teachings/beliefs from some of those that broke away from the Church in the 16th century on a couple topics. I not only welcome, but IMPLORE others to share likewise those non-Catholic beliefs from Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc… that are very much like Catholic beliefs. I hope to gather enough to make an article about this. :slight_smile:

The Perpetual Virginity of Mary

Martin Luther: “ It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of the Lord and still a virgin… Christ, we believe, came forth from a womb left perfectly intact.” ( Works of Luther, Vol. 11, pages 319-320; Vol. 6, page 510.)

John Calvin: “ There have been certain folk who have wished to suggest from this passage [Matthew 1:25] that the Virgin Mary had other children than the Son of God, and that Joseph had then dwelt with her later; but what folly this is! For the gospel writer did not wish to record what happened afterwards; he simply wished to make clear Joseph’s obedience and to show that Joseph had been well and truly assured that it was God who had sent His angel to Mary. He had therefore never dwelt with her nor had he shared her company… And beside this Our Lord Jesus Christ is called the first-born. This is not because there was a second or a third, but because the gospel writer is paying regard to the precedence. Scripture speaks thus of naming the first-born whether or no there was any question of the second.” (Sermon on Matthew 1:22-25. Published in 1562.)

Ulrich Zwingli: “I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel, as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the Son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin.” ( Zwingli Opera, Vol. 1, page 424.)

Regenerative Baptism/Infant Baptism

Martin Luther
“This fountain [in Zech 13:1] might well and properly be understood as referring to Baptism, in which the Spirit is given and all sins are washed away.” [Luther’s Works, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan, St. Louis: Concordia, 1973, 20:331]

[regarding Acts 2:37-41] “Who is to be baptized? All nations, that is, all human beings, young and old are to be baptized…Little children should be baptized when they are brought to Baptism by those who have authority over them. How do you prove that infants, too, are to be baptized? Infants, too, are to be baptized because they are included in the words ‘all nations’; [and] because Holy Baptism is teh only means whereby infants, who, too, must be born again, can ordinarily be regenerated and brought to faith( Mk 10:13; Jn 3:5-6).” [Luther’s Small Catechism, rev.ed., St. Louis: Concordia, 1965, 172-73]

[regarding Gal 3:27] “He must put off his old activities, so that from sons of Adam we may be changed into sons of God. This does not happen by a change of clothing or by any laws or works; it happens by the rebirth and renewal that takes place in Baptism, as Paul says, ‘As many of you as were baptized have put on Christ’…Paul is speaking about a ‘putting on’, not by imitation by birth. He does not say: 'Throuhg Baptism you have received a token…that is what the sectarians [Anabaptists] imagine when they make Baptism a mere token, that is, a small and empty sign.” [Luther’s Works, 26:352-53]

John Calvin
“Doubtless the design of Satan in assaulting infant baptism with all his forces is to keep out of view, and gradually efface, the attestation of divine grace which the promise itself presents to our eyes…Wherefore, if we would not maliciously obscure the kindness of God, let us present to him our infants, to whom he has assigned a place among his friends and family, that is, the members of the Church.” [Institutes of the Christian Religion, closing of Chapter 16 which is devoted to defending infant baptism, 1536, trans. Henry Beveridge, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1983, 2:554]

[regarding Rom 6:3-4] “Paul proves his assertion that Christ destroys sin in His people from the effect of baptism, by which we are initiated into faith in Him. It is beyond question that we put on Christ in Baptism.” [Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, 1540, trans. Ross Parker, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1980, 8:122]

I had heard that the original doctrines of a lot of the denominations contrasted sharply with what exists today. Interesting post.

Yes, protestantism is an ever-changing organism with no actual authority to draw a line anywhere…because everyone is essentially free to interpret Scripture as they choose. The strongest contrasts are between the reformers and modern day fundamentalists. But there are ever increasing differences throughout protestantism as a whole. Just think, it was only some 80 years ago that every Christian group viewed contraception as a sin…never to be permitted. Now, it seems the Catholic Church is the ONLY one that still holds this view.

Mary, Mother of God

Martin Luther: “In this work whereby she was made the Mother of God, so many and such good things were given her that no one can grasp them…Not only was Mary the mother of Him who is born [Bethlehem], but of Him who, before the world, was eternally born of the Father, from a Mother in time and at the same time man and God.” (Weimer, The Works of Luther, English translation by Pelikan, Concordia, St. Louis, Vol. 7, page 572)

John Calvin: “It cannot be denied that God in choosing and destining Mary to be the Mother of His Son, granted her the highest honor…Elizabeth calls Mary Mother of the Lord, because the unity of the person in the two natures of Christ was such that she could have said that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary was at the same time the eternal God.” (Calvini Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Braunschweig-Berlin, 1863-1900, Vol. 45, page 348 and 335)

Ulrich Zwingli: “It was given to her what belongs to no creature, that in the flesh she should bring forth the son of God.” (Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Berlin, 1905, in Evang. Luc., Op. Comp., Vol. 6,I, page 639)

Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist

**Martin Luther **: “Of all the fathers, as many as you can name, not one has ever spoken about the sacrament as these fanatics do. None of them uses such an expression as, ‘It is simply bread and wine,’ or ‘Christ’s body and blood are not present.’ Yet this subject is so frequently discussed by them, it is impossible that they should not at some time have let slip such and expression as, ‘It is simply bread,’ or ‘Not that the body of Christ is physically present,’ or the like, since they are greatly concerned not to mislead the people; actually, they simply proceed to speak as if no one doubted that Christ’s body and blood are present. Certainly among so many fathers and so many writings a negative argument should have turned up at least once, as happens in other articles; but actually they all stand uniformly and consistently on the affirmative side” (Luther’s Works, St. Louis, MI: Concordia Publishing, 1961, Volume 37, 54)

*Note: This doesn’t actually portray Luther as teaching the Real Presence, though he really did teach such, and most Lutherans still believe thus in some form or another. This quote, on its own, only shows that Luther recognized the unanimity of the ECF’s on the subject.

If anyone does have pertinent quotes from Luther where he explicitly teaches the Real Presence, those would be greatly appreciated*. :slight_smile:

ETA: I just found this quote, which is a different translation from above, but contains the prefeace to the above quote, and carries it through. Not only is the context preserved there, but I believe Luther comes across much more strongly in the first paragrpah of this quote:

"Who, but the devil, has granted such license of wresting the words of the holy Scripture? Who ever read in the Scriptures, that *my body *is the same as the sign of my body? or, that is is the same as it signifies? What language in the world ever spoke so? It is only then the devil, that imposes upon us by these fanatical men. Not one of the Fathers of the Church, though so numerous, ever spoke as the Sacramentarians: not one of them ever said, It is only bread and wine; or, the body and blood of Christ is not there present.

Surely, it is not credible, nor possible, since they often speak, and repeat their sentiments, that they should never (if they thought so) not so much as once, say, or let slip these words: It is bread only; or the body of Christ is not there, especially it being of great importance, that men should not be deceived. Certainly, in so many Fathers, and in so many writings, the negative might at least be found in one of them, had they thought the body and blood of Christ were not really present: but they are all of them unanimous.”

–Luther’s Collected Works, Wittenburg Edition, no. 7 p, 391 (emphasis in source)

I was reading a book on the “History of the Church” by a prominent protestant theologian a couple of years ago–I think he was Baptist, but not sure. (Not a bad book btw; pretty good for a general overview, especially for shedding light on the differences between many protestant denominations–which was useful to me, a cradle Cat., who wasn’t familiar with a lot of these things…).

Anyway, in it, he wrote that one of the basic arguments the ‘reformers’ used to deny the Real Presence’ in the Eucharist, was that: “…Christ can not be in the Eucharist, because he is seated at the 'right hand of the Father.” (Naturally I was floored by the absurdity of this argument–but it was written in all sincerity). I tried googling it, but came up dry. If I find the book, I’ll cite it directly–but in the mean time, I’ll just float it out there–is anybody familiar with this argument? Who framed it, who championed it, who in what context, what other beliefs did the proponent hold vis a vis the Eucharist, etc.?

Thanks in advance.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.