| | The protestant reformation was a catastrophe.
The protestant reformation was a catastrophe.
It was Erasmus’ New Testament translation in 1516 that influenced so many of the protestant reformers. He would attack Jerome, of a thousand years before, with his new commentary of what the Bible text means; John the Baptist’s cry in the wilderness as strictly a cerebral notion, as opposed to Jerome’s penance, any hint of Mary in the Old Testament being unfounded allegory…
Erasmus, the prince of humanist was a master of compromise. Erasmus fled the monastic life, having fallen in love with a fellow monk, Servatius Rogerus, to rove about living off the writings of his letters.
He would continue to grub about with his new revision three years later in 1519, attacking Gabriel’s greeting to Mary as simply gracious, as opposed to full of grace…
Luther’s rift with Erasmus was based on Luther’s increasingly dark view of human potential as opposed to Erasmus’ humanistic ideology of how the world might be changed with reasonable reform. Luther of course insisted that human reason was totally corrupted and useless in the theology as a result of the “fall”. Erasmus would eventually be forced back to the existing structures of the Catholic Church as a result of his disputations with reformers like Luther saying, “Therefore I will put up with this Church until I see a better one; and it will have to put up with me, until I become better.”
Tragically, Luther, Zwingli, Melanchthon, Calvin and the rest would, as Erasmus bemoaned, choose their ideas of Augustine’s doctrine of grace, and reject his doctrine of the Church.
Luther, the unhappy monk, devised a barbarian creed - salvation by faith alone. Luther, known to have bouts with the devil as they hurled insults and feces at one another, and engage in battle by fart, would be set free from his own sinfulness by faith alone!, while being relieved of a bout of constipation. “Knowledge the Holy Spirit gave me on the privy, in the tower”, Luther would say. His theology was morally deficient of any intelligence or forethought.
The dump that Luther left on the theological landscape is of no ‘value’ to the Church. This would be Luther’s throne, the toilet. He should have wiped his mouth before he flushed.
The identification of the Church and Commonwealth became a big problem for Luther. Luther could not help but get involved with politics. That was the foundation of his theology, the integration of the ecclesiastical and civil authorities, a state church – the godly Prince replaces the Pope.
Calvin’s Geneva , however, would become a police state. His philosophy was to keep the Church separate and distinct from the secular authorities as two distinct entities working together for the good of God. This worked well for Calvin when he had Michael Servetus burned at the stake, and several of his opposition who objected to his increasing support from the civic elite, beheaded with their heads nailed up.
Zwingli had a more humanistic view of the commonwealth, following the teachings of Erasmus; viewing the community as the church, one in the same. Baptism didn’t wash away sin, is simply welcomed one into the community of believers. This would eventually be a problem for him however, as radical separatists would reject infant baptism because babies couldn’t have faith – this didn’t work well for Zwingli’s attempt at an orderly Christian community. Zwingli, the “preaching pacifist” would show up at his major dispute with Luther wearing a wooden sword on his side, as some kind of demonstration of his goofy theology, much to the shock and repudiation of all those present – only to untimely be thrust through and die in battle himself as he rode out to defend his village from a motley crew of marauders and rapists intent on pillaging his women and children. Luther of course couldn’t resist the temptation to ridicule Zwingli upon his death with one of his infamous scriptural jabs, “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword!” Luther, hu..
Eucharist theology was a big part of the picture as the opposing camps attempted to distinguish themselves from one another in their understanding of Communion.
Luther would eventually advocate a consubstantiation of some sort. Zwingli rejected any notion of the presence of Christ in the bread. To him it was just a symbolic expression of a believer’s faith. Calvin, well his ideas were a little more complicated. The poor fella became hopelessly confused because of his utter rejection of Mary as anything more than a sack, and eventually ended up advocating some kind of symbolic instrumentalism – something about signs of a reality that become instruments of grace that unite, bla bla blaaa. I could go on, but it’s so difficult for me to dwell on this kind of nonsense.
A Catholic mystic is never outside the Magisterium of the Church. The heretical spirituali however, like John Wyclif and the Lollards, Hussites, and those who would follow the pernicious ways of the Protestants all rejected the Church, and the Truth Jesus Christ teaches through Her.
The protestant reformation has been a colossal failure all around.
The protesters reject the Eucharist as a popish trick, but demand that you swallow their heretical counterfeit religion as the Gospel. Whatever we gain through compromise, we will ultimately lose.
Isn’t it interesting that the birth of “open-air” preaching originated with the Barnibites, as an order of priests whose mission was to foster enthusiasm for worship among the laity? Modeled after the Theatines, an order of clergy with special vows that would provide an example of consciencoiusness and a high level of serious minded commitment, the Barnibites pioneered preaching missions and open-air devotional processions in the mid 1530’s.
They would set the example for the disciples of none other than Inigo Lopez Do Loyola – Ignatius. These bold preachers of hell fire were actors and showmen – they brought Gods circus to town. First order of business was to find some central market town conveniently located with outlying villages. They would set out to draw a crowd, and draw a crowd they did! They were specialists in the dramatic. There’s was a theatrical show like none other – heart stopping reality unlike anything people had ever seen. And having successfully set the stage, they would conduct what they called mission ‘raids’ in the outlying areas. Along with their radical preaching techniques, were the triumphant revivalist processions through the streets with the Blessed Sacrament. Devotional expeditions’ and processional drama was their specialty.
Let me set the stage: Its sixteenth century Italy in the city of Macerata . The carnival is coming to town. Social values will be turned on their head as a result of the revelry. Not to be undone, the Jesuits schedule their appearance in direct conflict. They are over the top with their dramatic exaggerations of ‘the slave of the virgin’ procession with participants loaded down with chains. They would out-do their competition. Carnival or no – they got their point across.
Suddenly one of them gains the crowd’s attention, and having previously obtained a list of the dead dignitaries, he begins calling out names one by one. Someone finally says, ‘they’re all dead’!
“Pressed together, distilled in decaying and contagious humors, and touching mouth to mouth!” cracks the Jesuit voice - both respectable and peasant together in hell, being his main point.
“The world is our house”, was the Jesuit calling card, preaching and hearing confessions as ordained; something that would be copied two centuries later with a protestant slant by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism – “The world is my parish”. As a mouthpiece for the Hussite and Lollard heresies of the fourteenth century, curiously finding their way onto the theological landscape of eighteenth century England , Wesley would have a profound effect in America through his disciple Francis Ashbury. Wesley of course would fail in his attempts at religion in America , having sided with the British in the Revolutionary war.
Francis would continue to carry Wesley’s mixed bag of theology throughout land however, and have continuing influence in American politics, etc.
In any event, we must continue to preach the True Gospel and expose heresy where we find it.
Zwingli considered Luther to be some kind of prophet, and even labeled him as Elijah at one point, something he would come to regret, I think, even though he was the first person to do it. But Zwingli’s radicalism was something that Luther never anticipated and eventually repudiated. Luther had opened a huge can of ‘ Worms ’, no pun intended (I’m sorry – I couldn’t resist) that fateful day of October 31, 1517. Meanwhile, Our Lady of Guadalupe was preparing to appear in the mountains of Mexico to a peasant man named Juan Diego.
He was wearing a poncho, upon which Mary’s likeness supernaturally appeared, when he poured forth the roses he was carrying before the Bishop. These roses were to be a sign to the Bishop that what Juan was trying to say about the beautiful woman that he has seen was true. No roses were blooming in Mexico at the time. This poncho still hangs behind the Alter at this Church, and has been under more critique and scientific examination than the Shroud of Turin, with no satisfactory explanations as to its origin.
Zwingli took things further than Luther could approve of in his evangelical zeal. Zwingli claimed that he owed Luther nothing in the development of his reformation theology; just a mere sixteenth century coincidence, that’s all. Well, he eventually jettisoned the whole idea of communion being a sacrament at all, since the term was appropriated by the Latin Church from the Roman army’s idea of a soldier’s oath anyway.
There was no presence of Christ in the bread at all; no transubstantiation, no consubstantiation, no nothing, just a remembrance, that’s all, and Luther couldn’t agree with that. Infant baptism fell by the wayside as a result of dissident ultra-Zwinglians insisting it wasn’t necessary since babies couldn’t have faith anyway. It was in 1523, after a rough time of iconoclastic vandalism, that Zurich produced the first official statement of doctrine of the reformation, banning images and then the Mass; kind of like a city ordinance concerning parking violations, I suppose.
In any event, Zwingli sure was successful in shinning off the established Church and putting his theology to the civil authorities.
Well, it didn’t take long for Zwingli to be renounced as a backslider by some in the city who decided to baptize each other as well demonstrate their newly found priesthood of the believer by communicating with bread and drinking wine. They were subsequently mocked and ridiculed as Anabaptist – rebaptizers. Of course, all this nonsense required more legislation, which eventually led to some of these criminal radicals being solemnly drowned in the River Lammat.
Martyrs I suppose, but martyrs for what, a tragic misconception? They believed what they believed. And so, we see the radical reformation taking shape, rejecting what is referred to as the magisterial reformation, promulgated by Luther and Zwingli and those who would follow. Their alliances weren’t with the civil magistrates to further the Kingdom on earth, no way! There’s was with God alone! All others had confused the Church with the world in their attempts at a Christian commonwealth! And hence, the Schleitheim Confession of 1527, bemoaning false brethren, and calling all to a separation from the abomination. And on and on and on…
Meanwhile Luther was having similar problems of his own – he had started a civil war! And what would be the end result of all of this? Revolution.
Once upon a time, there was a little boy, a very loving and beautiful boy, who loved his parents so. One day he was arrested and thrown into the dungeon. Above him his mother and father were brutally murdered, yet, he never knew it. After such a long time of mistreatment by his captors, he was very sick and near death from starvation, when one of the jailers came into his cell to show him a little kindness as he died.
Let me riddle you this. Who was this boy? No, I’ll tell you.
He was the last King of France! The last divinely appointed Monarch.
His parents were executed by a motley crew of rabble rousers under the influence of protestant theology who couldn’t leave well enough alone. They had to finish the dirty deed done cheap. The heir to the throne was a real problem for them, wasn’t he? And why was that? What were they so afraid of? A ten year old boy?
Luther, Calvin, and the radicals following, would appeal to the writings of Augustine to justify their schismatic rebellion against the Church; and in the process develop various heretical doctrines, irresistible grace being one of them. The Augustinian - Pelagian debate, however, was not central to their cause. Jakobus Arminius’ theology was condemned at the Synod of Dordt in 1618 for daring to suggest that one could resist the grace of God and be lost; this didn’t set well with the Dutch Calvinist’s idea of predestination in the northern Netherlands .
The whole thing became such a powder keg, that it was eventually turned over to the political establishment and became a power struggle between the veteran statesman Johan Van Oldenbarnevelt and the life long military leader Prince Maurits. The lines were drawn, and after a successful military coup by the prince, the Arminian Remonstrants were defeated both theologically and politically, and the Synod concluded with Oldenbarnevelt’s judicial murder.
Jakobus Arminius was seen as a traitor against the Duthch Calvinists’ struggle for independence from Spain , and their theology was part of their national identity, so it is understandable why they were so serious about their religion. The five point of Calvinism that were articulated at this disputation with such ferocity against the Arminians remain unchanged to this day.
It was Calvin’s main disciple, Theodore Beza’s double predestination; that both the elect and the dam*ed were predestined, and hence the limited Atonement, that was so troublesome to the acute mind of such a one as one Jakobus Arminius. Arminius would reject Beza’s supralapsarianism and begin to publicly express his doubts about all of it.
Of course, all of this is not to be confused with English ‘Arminians’ who were more concerned with distinguishing themselves from reformed Protestantism in their ceremonial worship and emphasis on the sacraments in the Church of England. I know, it can get confusing, but there were really no parallels between Dutch and English Arminianism except in name only: probably to express a similarity in the seriousness of the rebellions that affected both reformed orthodoxy and as well as Dutch Protestantism.
The English Arminians would ultimately be the ones who would persecute the puritans as separatists, cropping off the ears of the more noisome of the bunch. In some respects the English saw themselves as offering a more authentic Catholicism that what one could find in Rome . The puritans would get no concessions for church reform from the King; however they did get their King James Bible in 1611, which they would bring to New England along with the covenant theology of William Perkins.
The Catholic Church condemned the kind of savage pessimism in the writings of Michael Baius in 1567 and 1579 that Arminius found so objectionable in Calvin’s theology. One Jansen Cornelius couldn’t take a hint apparently, and continued the rebellion of Baius, developing a theology that he saw reflected in the writings of Augustine that contrasted with Jesuit teachings in safeguarding the will. It was from the thoughts of Luis de Molina where the Jesuits got their inspiration. Molina developed a theology of future contingencies that was consistent with Augustine’s theology as well as the free will of man. Jansen would eventually refuse to accept the appointment of a Bishop by the Pope, influence another Bishop to appoint someone else, and advocate for what he called the ‘Old Catholic Church’, as opposed to the one in which he found himself. What has come to be referred to as Jansenism would eventually be condemned by the Church as heretical.
Jansen would devote some twenty years of his life to the development of a treatise on grace entitled “Augustinus” and leave it for publication upon his death; this work contained a detailed critique of that age old controversy between Augustine and Pelagius and continuing with the dismantling of Molinism.
This is where we can find the Augustinian – Pelagian debate within the context of the reformation period, not within the protestant divisions. Jansen would conduct his own reformation within the Catholic Church while the Jesuits were conduction the counter-reformation without. It was the genius of Molina and the commitment of both schools of thought to Augustine’s theology of the Church that allowed truth to prevail. The issue of the nature of sin and how it is to be viewed within the human condition was settled here, not in the protestant camp, or the mind of someone who rejects the Magisterium.
The Molinism as articulated by the Jesuits, in competition with Jansen’s thesis of Augustine, incorporates not only the issue of free will and future contingencies and Augustine’s theology of Soteriology, but also brings the issue of original sin into view in a way that the Arminians’ conflict with the Calvinists could not.
The bitter resentments between protestant camps in their reformation cause pale in comparison to the viciousness inflicted upon the Jesuits by the Jansenists. It is here that we must look to view the fundamental and underlying issues that confronted and shaped the reformation dilemma in order to see them take shape and play out in a manner that brings resolution and satisfaction to a mind that demands it.
To continue to look to those who would follow in the footsteps of the protestant reformers in the hopes of finding a satisfactory resolution to these all important theological difficulties that confront us is folly. It is like a man who looks down a well to find the answers to his problems, only to see a reflection of his own face instead.
The distinction between the various protestant confessions that developed after the reformation turned on the definitions of predestination as well as the relationship the Sacraments had with Soteriology.
Christendom is at stake. Just as the radical reformers attack on infant baptism was perceived as an attack on Christendom by the magisterial reformers as well as the Catholic Church; so it is today. As schismatic radicals continue to baptize adults into heretical belief systems that deny original sin and advocate some kind of perfectionism, they continue to foster a fractionalization of an integrated Divine view of Christendom.
What protestants are advocating is anathema to a Divine view of community. They are creating the very societal anomalies that they rail against.
The establishment of an empire through the union of culture religion and society, with its members sealed through Baptism was not a corruption of the Church; it is the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Christ told His Apostles, “Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”
And that’s exactly what they did, and have been doing through Apostolic succession.
It is what awaits us when the Church will once again worship God, as in ancient days.