Was a Protestant Movement Inevitable?

Through another post in this Apologetics forum (Biblical Foundations of the Catholic Church), the idea was mused of taking the Sacred Scripture, alone, to reproduce the structure, authority, sacraments, rites, etc of the Catholic Church as it looks today. This probably would not happen since the Catholic Church was in existence before the cannon was finalized in 382AD (ref Steve B’s post), and Sacred Scripture is a product of the Church; the Church is not a product of Sacred Scripture (ref AveOTheotokos and Gorgias posts). So, while Sacred Scripture has echoes of the Catholic Church’s structure and authority (ref Gorgias post), one cannot reproduce an exact copy of today’s Catholic Church with all of its Cannon Law, authority to declare it a sin to eat a chicken dinner on Fridays, or let’s just say Fridays during Lent, or something like the RCIA process.

If this conclusion is true, wouldn’t something like the Protestant Reformation be inevitable? I’ve heard a speaker once say that after the Guttenberg Press was invented in the 1400’s, the best-selling book was the Bible. I can easily see how a growing number of literate, reverent lay people, without any real beef with the Church, could honestly conclude a revolution of some kind was necessary to restore Christianity to its intended design. The Catholic Church in the 1400’s – 1500’s had to see this coming. God knew this was coming. I don’t see how The Lord’s prayer for unity could have ever be a reality after the printing press?

Canon

authority to declare it a sin to eat a chicken dinner on Fridays, or let’s just say Fridays during Lent, or something like the RCIA process.

Read the Didache, which specifies fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as before baptism.

If this conclusion is true, wouldn’t something like the Protestant Reformation be inevitable? I’ve heard a speaker once say that after the Guttenberg Press was invented in the 1400’s, the best-selling book was the Bible. I can easily see how a growing number of literate, reverent lay people, without any real beef with the Church, could honestly conclude a revolution of some kind was necessary to restore Christianity to its intended design. The Catholic Church in the 1400’s – 1500’s had to see this coming. God knew this was coming. I don’t see how The Lord’s prayer for unity could have ever be a reality after the printing press?

Why did the printed Bible not produce Protestant churches in the East?

Cannon law and binding one under pain of sin for eating meat on Fridays lines up totally with scripture.

[Mt16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and **whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.]

There are more examples also.

What specifically Could you see from scripture that would make it necessary to restore Christianity to its intended design. Their is none more faithful to the intended design of Christianity than the one Church Christ is building on Peter the Catholic Church.

We see clearly what literate and well learned even scholars did with the scriptures. They turned the one faith language Christ gave his Church into a tower of Babel. Right from the get go Luther, Calvin and all the others became nothing more false popes declaring those who disagreed with them heretics. Scattering the once one family of God into thousands and still dividing with ever new twist of scripture man can devise in his imagination.

Not only did the invention of the printing press make the Bible more available but it also made other writings, including heretical writings more available. Think of how ISIS has used social media to spread its errors.

Was a revolution inevitable? That depends on your view of the Church. If you view the New Testament Church as the Church in its infancy, at the beginning of its development, and the Church of today as the Church in its maturity, fully developed, then the fact that it doesn’t look exactly same in every aspect, that there has been some organic development in doctrine and structure and practices, probably would not bother you. After all, do you now, as an adult, look exactly the same in every aspect as you did as an infant?

An interesting question to be sure. Rather than say it was inevitable, I would frame it as being the “perfect storm.” Leo X was rebuilding St. Peter’s, his efforts to raise money[for better or worse] the death of the emperor Maximilian in 1519, Henry VIII and the politics of the time, and maybe, his failures to implement the reforms of the 5th Lateran council all played a part in this perfect storm.

The counter reformation did not take place until 1545–1566.

Not inevitable. The worst popes had been many years before Luther, and subsequent popes were mostly not bad. They might be criticized for not being proactive about rooting out abuses, but things were gradually getting better.

People like Erasmus were addressing some of the abuses through writing. The printing press had been around for several decades before Luther, but could not have already made too much of an impact by 1517. The availability of books and pamphlets might have made possible better discipline by bishops and religious superiors, and reduced the ignorance that made abuses more likely.

It is conceivable the reforms that came from the Council of Trent and what was later called the “counter reformation” might have happened gradually, without the revolt. The Church has a history of reforming itself prior to Luther, and also at Vatican II, when no revolt was going on.

I agree that it was not inevitable.

There were multiple outbreaks of heresy before the protestant reformation, and most of them made quite a splash. But the Protestant Revolution came with ideal timing: the Pope’s hand was not strong enough, Martin Luther managed to get the support of numerous princes and nations, the printing press allowed the mass distribution of both the Bible and heretic propaganda… the list goes on and on of things that made the Revolution effective.

We must also remember that it was Luther who radicalized over the years, starting as a Conciliarist who wanted to reform the catholic church, not abolish its sacraments, do away with the lines of apostolic succession or its sacred institutions such as monastic orders. :shrug:

I think this was greatly worsened after his visit to Rome, where the corruption of the Borgias and others like him still ran rampant, despite the blessed work of many saints. :slight_smile:

Now do not get me wrong he was still a heretic, but if he had not radicalized as much as he did there would have been a far smaller gap to bridge in order to mend the ensuing schism.

And perhaps it might even have lead them back to into the blessed arms of our holy mother church after a full conversion? :slight_smile:

Well yeah. Because of sin. Our tainted nature has only one solitary boast…the Blessed Mother. The Catholic Church has been fighting protestantism long before Luther, Calvin and those guys if that’s what you mean by the protestant movement. The disciples that denied the Eucharist and walked away from Jesus were protestants.

I think, as has been alluded to, that the issue with both Martin Luther and Henry VIII is that it came from and was focused around an individual. The Great Schism revolved around a good portion of the Church which had the institutional framework in place to continue as they had with experienced men in leadership positions. The SSPX chose this route when forming as well which I believe protected them to a large degree.

The Reformation had leaders, but inevitably they were building anew rather than continuing what had been. While England had a better chance at continuing on in the same direction, Henry had so decimated the clergy it had no choice but to chose men who had certain theological flexibilities or to use new leaders. Mix in the political forces once Henry died and a child took over and you have an environment ripe for major changes.

Yes, I believe the Reformation was inevitable and allowed by God. He got good out of it, including but not limited to the Counter-Reformation. The Church is only as holy as the men who run it - from the inception to now. To not believe that, at least to me, is to put too much faith in man, not enough in God’s will, his supremacy in the Church. Since the beginning there have been sheep and wolves; I am rereading the New Testament for Lent. As has happened before, one of the things that has surprised me again is the how many differences of opinion there were - Paul is frantically writing to all these different Churches trying to instill/maintain orthodoxy and peace. And I am not just talking about Jew to Christian, though that is of course much of what is at the heart of those early disputes. Paul fights with Peter at one point. There are fights about Christians who follow too much philosophy, Greek cultural influence, neglect moral teachings, continue to adhere too much to the laws of Judaism - fasting, clean and unclean foods. Replace the spirit of Christ with law. We need to understand that this kind of discord is part of the faith…and will be until the end of time.

What is so tragic about the Reformation - I believe both sides mishandled - is how it hardened into such a (literally) deadly divide for centuries. There is blood on many hands. I am so thankful the recent Popes (and Vatican II) have tried to heal this by looking afresh at this conflict. That, my friends, is the work of the Holy Spirit. And what does it engender…wait for it…more divisions! More misunderstandings. (the reaction from some quarters against this has been fierce) Gotta love it. There is good…and bad…development of doctrine. :wink: Good heads you back to Christ. Bad sends you off a cliff.

all of them the N. T. canon, some of them of the authority of tradition, still others of the majesty and dignity of liturgy.

I do not minimize the good things they each uphold. But they found those good things somewhere else. Where?

Your premise, as best I can tell, is that since Scripture isn’t a Constitution and a Code of Law and a Liturgical Compendium, therefore it’s inevitable that someone would come along and say “you’re doing it wrong.” Does that about sum it up?

To tell the truth, even if Scripture were all that, there’d still be disputes! (As an example, look at all the prescriptions of the Mosaic law that are found right there in the Torah! The Mosaic law was civil and canon law, and liturgical guidelines, and ecclesiastical constitution… and yet, there were disagreements about what it meant! (For just one example, see the discussion of divorce under the Mosaic law, as it’s debated in the Gospels.))

So, let’s frame it up this way: in any endeavor in which humans are involved, there are always disputes centering on issues of power and influence and procedure and regulation. Do we really think the Church would be any different? After all, Jesus didn’t think so, and He told us what would happen! Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.’” (Mt 10:34-36) In other words, He knew that there would be division within the Body of Christ, the Church!

So, on one hand, there will be those who claim that the Catholic Church got it wrong, and on the other hand there will be those who point to Jesus’ promises to protect the Church as well as his proxy to Peter. If a person wishes to diverge from the Church Jesus founded, because they think they know better than the Church does, then that’s their prerogative. Doesn’t mean the naysayers are right… just that it’s up to them to decide whether to follow Christ’s Church or to strike out on their own. :shrug:

No more than people in revolt have always been there.
Great Heresies link catholic.com/tract/the-great-heresies

Long before there was any printing press, people argued with Jesus to His face, and then walked away from Him.

The reality is, people do stupid things, and God put consequences out there for our behavior.

Satan always wanted to destroy the church but cannot. He would splinter it instead.

Slightly off-centre, but there’s a talk by Scott Hahn titled “The Forerunners of the Reformation”. It goes for 1 hour and 5 minutes.

The text under the video says:
“Dr Scott Hahn…journeys through the intellectual and cultural ideologies, as well as the historical figures, that led up to the Protestant Reformation… the necessity of the papacy.”

He goes into the evil consequences of it in the West in our own day.

youtube.com/watch?v=CTMX4C169bg

Came across it a few months back, and it was well worth hearing…and downloading.

Usual disclaimer: It worked from here. :shrug:

Rather than framing this as Catholic vs. Protestant, it is better to see it as obedient vs. disobedient. That has been the case since day one. As an example, look up the Arian heresy. Buy a copy of Dissent from the Creed by Fr. Richard Hogan and see that division caused by disobedience has rocked the Church for 2,000 years.

There are millions of reasons for disobedience, but only one for obedience.

I think the root of the movement took hold during the crisis that was the Avignon Papacy.

That fracas greatly diminished the perceived authority and legitimacy of the papacy and set a tone that was perfect for anyone “reformation” minded as it was clear beyond that point that there were secular princes in Europe that would be happy to support some sort of papal counter-claimant in a way that heresy was not supported before.

As the reformation was an ideological counter-claimant rather than a temporal, authoritative one - it was perfect to suit their needs.

Just a quick comment,

Over 2000 years, the Church has through councils, local and ecumenical, reformed herself ontologically. And she has always had from the beginning, heresies and heretics and schismatics of the day to defeat, which she has done. catholic.com/tract/the-great-heresies

And this disobedience is usually fuelled by stubborn minds and a lack of patience.

Unity is a continuous labor for the holy mother church.
And we must all work and pray for it. :slight_smile:

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