The Waldensians predate the Protestant Reformation by centuries, dating back to the 12th century. When the Protestant Reformers appeared, the Waldensian community jumped onto the Protestant bandwagon and to this day identify as Protestant. I can definitely see how the Waldensians could be considered proto-Protestants, but I wonder to what extent their original medieval theology actually anticipated later Protestant beliefs? Was it really a case of “hey Reformers, we believed the same thing all along!” or more a case of gradual appropriation of Protestant theology over time?

Well sola fide was one of their tenants as was their disagreement with papal supremacy, proto evangelical would be a good term though .

Can it be historically demonstrated that they held to Sola Fide three centuries prior to Luther, rather than gradually adopting the doctrine over time?

not sure, but some say so . Stands to reason if they did not believe in the pope, masses, purgatory, and the exclusive rights of clergy. They believed in the priesthood of all believers more succinctly.


That they rejected the papacy, purgatory etc does not necessarily mean they were also protestant in their theology otherwise. These aren’t “package deals”. I just wonder to what extend have later ideas been imposed on the early Waldensians. I’m sure Protestants could also find common ground with the ancient Arians on various issues- but their rejection of the Trinity makes them solidly non-Protestant.

Heresy is heresy.

Denying the Holy Trinity, once saved always saved heresy, denying that Christ established a Church on St. Peter with authority to bind and loose (the Pope, the Roman Catholic Church) etc…

All of it is protesting the Church that God established. Why not call them Protestants? They took what the Church teaches, changed it, and started a religion. That is the definition of Protestant.

God still loves them, but believing heresy is dangerous to souls and causes many grave offenses against God.

Since you seem to be American, do you actually know and relate with Waldensians? Do you know their history? Do you know why Pope Francis begged their forgiveness in the name of the Lord Jesus for what they endured? The Massacre of Mérindol? The Piedmont Easter? A persecution so terrible that it is still not forgotten in Europe’s collective memory centuries later? An episode so painful that even the passage of time has not made it possible for them to forgive?


You might wish to consider reading Ut Unum Sint, by Saint John Paul II.


It is a very moving and very personal document from the Vicar of Christ about the Church of Rome in the ecumenical age and how we are to relate to our brothers and sisters today. If I could take one passage and quote it, it would be from paragraph 42; it is the Pope speaking:

*There is an increased awareness that we all belong to Christ. I have personally been able many times to observe this during the ecumenical celebrations which are an important part of my Apostolic Visits to various parts of the world, and also in the meetings and ecumenical celebrations which have taken place in Rome. The “universal brotherhood” of Christians has become a firm ecumenical conviction. Consigning to oblivion the excommunications of the past, Communities which were once rivals are now in many cases helping one another… *

This discussion isn’t about what is or isn’t heresy. Of course the Waldensians were considered heretical from a Catholic perspective. My question is academic and historical. Is it historically documented that the Waldensians articulated doctrines associated with the Protestant Reformation centuries before Luther was on the scene? Did they in fact invest an early form of “sola fide” and “Sola scriptura” which later Reformers simply stumbled upon…or were they simply open to such ideas and gradually adopted them centuries after they were formed as they came into contact with emerging Protestant communities?

I’ve always admired the story of Peter Waldo and his followers. Apparently he was commended for his poverty but rebuked for his Doctrines.

Unfortunately, in all my interest in him I still have yet to find anything he or his followers wrote. It seems that everything was destroyed.

My history is a bit fuzzy as it’s been a while since I’ve looked into all of this, but they did see Eucharist as a symbol and argued that Jesus’s “This is my body” is no different than when Jesus called John the Baptist “Elijah”. Basically at one of the councils condemning him and his teachings one can ironically find some of the Waldensians teachings. Look up the texts of the condemnations of him and his followers. Also, look up the teachings of Hus and Wycliffe.

If anyone can find his, or his followers writings on the Internet then that would be really neat.

Here, I don’t mean to insult your intelligence by linking the wiki article, but I must go to work and don’t have time to look back into my research atm.

Follow the links that are sourced in this article regarding Peter Waldo. You’ll find a lot of what you’re looking for:


Later tonight I’m going to look for the text of the third Lateran council again.

HI twf,

Understand. You mentioned two aspects that the reformation took on as did the W’s. It is true one would have go down the list of any further aspects “otherwise”. Protestants have various aspects also, so it is difficult to say with a broad stroke that a group is Protestant like.

It would be wrong to “impose”’ our or your interpretation on W’s views. I would think they speak into history for themselves. They certainly had some common ground with the CC, though they were not Catholic

We all, P’s and C’s, can find common ground with Arians apart from the Trinity.


PS- maybe they (W’s) do not speak directly into history ,if indeed all their writings were burned, as posted before me by d.

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