Was the Protestant Reformation, in a sense, good?

Yes, Protestantism did bring a lot of bad. It created multiple heretical theology’s. It divided Christianity into an uncountable number of sects. It started some wars between Catholics and Protestants and even among Protestants themselves due to so much division. But, did it also have some good effects?

Many say the Protestant reformation led to the enlightenment and help people open their minds more to new ideas. Although, this too brought some bad (Atheism, French Revolution, Napoleon) it brought much good with it. America was founded upon enlightenment ideas. These ideas include things such as separation of Church and state, freedom to practice any religion, freedom of speech, etc. In fact, Protestantism itself kind of forced certain country’s before the enlightenment took off to start allowing for religious freedom or at least limited forms of it.

Protestantism also brought attention to many of the abuses within the Church. Abuses such as the selling of Indulgences were finally stopped.

So, was Protestantism in a way kind of good? Does the good out weigh the bad or does the bad out weigh the good? Also, please do not misunderstand. I do not in anyway shape or form want to become Protestant. I love the Catholic faith and hope to practice it until the day I die. I accept all teachings put forward by the Catholic Church and do not see myself rejecting the Church any time soon.

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Many say the Protestant reformation led to the enlightenment and help people open their minds more to new ideas.

St John Paul II in Centesimus Annus, 13, 1991 showed the evils:
“The atheism of which we are speaking is also closely connected with the rationalism of the Enlightenment which views human and social reality in a mechanistic way. Thus there is a denial of the supreme insight concerning man’s true greatness, his transcendence in respect to earthly realities, the contradiction in his heart between the desire for the fullness of what is good and his own inability to attain it and, above all, the need for salvation which results from this situation.”

The so-called “Enlightenment” was exposed for its degradation by St John Paul II:
“The rationalism of the Enlightenment put to one side the true God – in particular, God the Redeemer.

“The consequence was that man was supposed to live by reason alone, as if God did not exist…as if God were not interested in the world. The rationalism of the Enlightenment was able to accept a God outside of the world primarily because it was an unverifiable hypothesis. It was crucial, however, that such a God be expelled from the world.”
Crossing The Threshold Of Hope, St John Paul II, Random House Australia, 1994, p 53.]

Protestantism also brought attention to many of the abuses within the Church. Abuses such as the selling of Indulgences were finally stopped.

One never could “buy” indulgences. The financial scandal surrounding indulgences, the scandal that gave Martin Luther an excuse for his heterodoxy, involved alms – indulgences in which the giving of alms to some charitable fund or foundation was used as the occasion to grant the indulgence. There was no outright selling of indulgences.
The Council of Trent instituted severe reforms in the practice of granting indulgences, and, because of prior abuses, “in 1567 Pope Pius V cancelled all grants of indulgences involving any fees or other financial transactions” (Catholic Encyclopedia). This act proved the Church’s seriousness about removing abuses from indulgences.

So, was Protestantism in a way kind of good? Does the good out weigh the bad or does the bad out weigh the good?

Protestantism is a Revolt that involved the total loss of Christ’s teaching authority (the Magisterium), the loss of the priesthood, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and of the sacraments except baptism, the loss of Tradition, and an inability to agree on what the Bible teaches – hence the thousands of different sects all teaching something different.

Directly from Ut Unum Sint by Pope Saint John Paul II:

*11. The Catholic Church thus affirms that during the two thousand years of her history she has been preserved in unity, with all the means with which God wishes to endow his Church, and this despite the often grave crises which have shaken her, the infidelity of some of her ministers, and the faults into which her members daily fall. The Catholic Church knows that, by virtue of the strength which comes to her from the Spirit, the weaknesses, mediocrity, sins and at times the betrayals of some of her children cannot destroy what God has bestowed on her as part of his plan of grace. Moreover, “the powers of death shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18). Even so, the Catholic Church does not forget that many among her members cause God’s plan to be discernible only with difficulty. Speaking of the lack of unity among Christians, the Decree on Ecumenism does not ignore the fact that “people of both sides were to blame” and acknowledges that responsibility cannot be attributed only to the “other side”. By God’s grace, however, neither what belongs to the structure of the Church of Christ nor that communion which still exists with the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities has been destroyed.

Indeed, the elements of sanctification and truth present in the other Christian Communities, in a degree which varies from one to the other, constitute the objective basis of the communion, albeit imperfect, which exists between them and the Catholic Church.

To the extent that these elements are found in other Christian Communities, the one Church of Christ is effectively present in them. For this reason the Second Vatican Council speaks of a certain, though imperfect communion. The Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium stresses that the Catholic Church “recognizes that in many ways she is linked” with these Communities by a true union in the Holy Spirit.

  1. The same Dogmatic Constitution listed at length “the elements of sanctification and truth” which in various ways are present and operative beyond the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: “For there are many who honour Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and of action, and who show a true religious zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, Son of God and Saviour. They are consecrated by Baptism, through which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and receive other sacraments within their own Churches or Ecclesial Communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist, and cultivate devotion towards the Virgin Mother of God. They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise, we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them also he gives his gifts and graces, and is thereby operative among them with his sanctifying power. Some indeed he has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ’s disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd”.

The Council’s Decree on Ecumenism, referring to the Orthodox Churches, went so far as to declare that “through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches, the Church of God is built up and grows in stature”. Truth demands that all this be recognized.

  1. The same Document carefully draws out the doctrinal implications of this situation. Speaking of the members of these Communities, it declares: “All those justified by faith through Baptism are incorporated into Christ. They therefore have a right to be honoured by the title of Christian, and are properly regarded as brothers and sisters in the Lord by the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church”.

With reference to the many positive elements present in the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, the Decree adds: “All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to him, belong by right to the one Church of Christ. The separated brethren also carry out many of the sacred actions of the Christian religion. Undoubtedly, in many ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community, these actions can truly engender a life of grace, and can be rightly described as capable of providing access to the community of salvation”.

These are extremely important texts for ecumenism. It is not that beyond the boundaries of the Catholic community there is an ecclesial vacuum. Many elements of great value (eximia), which in the Catholic Church are part of the fullness of the means of salvation and of the gifts of grace which make up the Church, are also found in the other Christian Communities.*

Very well said.

No. The Protestant “Reformation” and the so called “Enlightenment” are perhaps the most spiritually catastrophic events ever to occur in the history of mankind. The fact that so many Catholics nowadays consider that anything good could come from the utter rending of the Mystical Body of Christ by a wave of unbridled and persistent heresy that has lead to the loss of countless souls, or regard the “Enlightenment” as a good thing is a disturbing reminder of how far away we have drifted from traditional thought.



My first and immediate reaction to this statement is heart warmingly positive. I hope I am correct in my understanding of it. Thank you for sharing this.

perhaps only in the fact it brought about the Counter Reformation - but it would have been nice to have worked out differences from within instead of breaking apart. when the 500th anniversary of the Reformation takes place, I am sure many people will be singing its praises, but I hope there will be those pointing out the ramifications.

Although some of us are deeply grateful that we enjoy the Enlightenment fruits of religious and political tolerance.

No. Because Jesus’ church should be united, not divided. The reformation resulted in too many people throwing out traditional Christian beliefs and replacing then with ones that did not exist in the early days of the church or beliefs stemming from utter nonsense like not being allowed to read the bible (before the printing press, the bible was hand copied page by page by monks. That took years…those copies were priceless, so of course they would be protected. Plus, not everyone was literate. New churches popped up with different interpretations, removing beliefs like requirement for baptism to making it optional or saying it’s just symbolic. Same with the Eucharist.

The huge number of children growing up without a father sure haven’t enjoyed the fruits of enlightened sexular humanism.

The Catholic Church can give all the Western World’s tolerance itself alone. Rodney Stark (An irreligious scholar) in his book The Victory of Reason argues that several of the things credited to the Enlightenment and Protestantism, such as modern science, the end of slavery and the rise of capitalism actually had their roots in the Catholic Church.

In fact, it can also be argued that several concepts people like to taut as products of the Enlightenment, such as the rule of law and constitution, human rights and individualism began with Catholic teaching and the Scholastics, such as Thomas Aquinas who had a lot to say and contribute on the topics.

I have a suspicion that there have always been huge numbers of children growing up without a father, although I am happy to be contradicted with statistics.

Certainly the Enlightenment did not spring fully formed from nothing. It was part of the process historians call modernisation, but its roots were indeed in Christianity as well as in the classical world, and as well as interacting with others of the processes of modernisation,

Certainly they are many, as well as children who grow up without a mother.

Namely, we do not need to sacrifice the unity of the Catholic Church for the “fruits of the Enlightenment”, as several of the things tauted by most as products of the Enlightenment such as abolitionism and human rights have already been planted long before by the Church. The wolves in the sheep’s clothing simply wrongly picked the good fruit.

No, because breaking up the body of Christ is opposed to the Lord’s prayer for us in John 17

But that said, Protestants seem to be much better at evangelizing than Catholics are.

Many of us would not be Catholic today if it weren’t for a wonderful protestant ministering to us first.

You will of course find the seeds of human rights before the Enlightenment, but it was most certainly the Enlightenment that championed the rights of the individual, including political and religious rights. As to abolition, the key figures in the fight against the trade, and then against slavery itself in the British Empire, were Anglican, Baptist, Quaker and Methodist. The United States followed on.

not sure I follow you. could you explain that more fully?

These are sources given by those who state the Bible was forbidden to the laity. I can’t find the originals of these councils online.

‘We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old and the New Testament; unless anyone from the motives of devotion should wish to have the Psalter or the Breviary for divine offices or the hours of the blessed Virgin; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.’ (Edward Peters. Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe, Council of Toulouse, 1229, Canon 14, p 195.)

‘Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and without discrimination in the vernacular, there will by reason of the boldness of men arise therefrom more harm than good, the matter is in this respect left to the judgment of the bishop or inquisitor, who may with the advice of the pastor or confessor permit the reading of the Sacred Books translated into the vernacular by Catholic authors to those who they know will derive from such reading no harm but rather an increase of faith and piety, which permission they must have in writing. Those, however, who presume to read or possess them without such permission may not receive absolution from their sins till they have handed them over to the ordinary. Bookdealers who sell or in any other way supply Bibles written in the vernacular to anyone who has not this permission, shall lose the price of the books, which is to be applied by the bishop to pious purposes, and in keeping with the nature of the crime they shall be subject to other penalties which are left to the judgment of the same bishop. Regulars who have not the permission of their superiors may not read or purchase them.’ (Council of Trent: Rules on Prohibited Books, approved by Pope Pius IV, 1564).

Also, why were John Wycliffe and William Tyndale burned at the stake for trying to translate the Bible to English if all were allowed to read and understand the Bible?

Protestants seem to be more bold.

They are more likely to approach you on the street and ask you if you know Jesus.

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