Did Luther Want to Start His Own Church?

Front page of Exsurge Domine,
Pope Leo X’s bull calling Martin Luther to repent

In a piece arguing that God is the Author of schism (contrast with Galatians 5:19-20, which condemns schismatics) the Orthodox Presbyterian Church elder Brad Winsted recites the now-standard Protestant claim that Luther didn’t really want to start his own church:

One of the obvious outcomes of the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century was the formation of a new church. Martin Luther had to leave the church of his life, the church to which he had made sacred vows. But he had no options, for the Pope had excommunicated him, and the Roman Church considered him a heretic. [….] 

It surprises people to hear that Martin Luther didn’t really want to leave the Roman Catholic Church when he posted his Ninety-five Theses on the Wittenberg church door in 1517; he wanted to reform it. He was a devout Roman Catholic at the time, in full agreement with papal authority and even the veneration of Mary. It was a slow, painful process, filled with anguish and tears that eventually brought Luther to the realization that the Roman Church placed its authority and traditions above Scripture and would not change. 

This claim is so common within Protestant spheres that I think people have just stopped thinking about what it is, exactly, that they mean by it. Compare and contrast Winsted’s account with that of Lutheran pastor Matthew W. Crick:

For Luther, reformation was never about revolution. He never wanted to break away from the Roman Catholic Church. He never set out to overthrow the church. But he knew the church was teaching many things not found in God’s Word, such as penance, veneration of the saints, purgatory, and the supremacy of the pope.

Winsted’s and Crick’s accounts are almost diametrically opposed: Winsted claims that Luther was a devout Roman Catholic, in full agreement with Church teachings, like papal authority. Crick claims that he dissented from papal authority, and disagreed with Church teaching all over the board. (Both of these accounts are wrong). The one thing that Winsted and Circk, and virtually all Protestant authors, agree upon is that Luther didn’t want to break away from the Catholic Church.

What’s meant by this, exactly? Again, I’m not sure that the people who make this claim have given it a lot of thought. In any case, by almost any reasonable standard, this claim is totally false. The late historian Eugene F. Rice, Jr., in his book The Foundations of Early Modern Europe, 1460-1559, explained why the Reformation was never really a reform movement, at heart*:

A woodcut from Luther’s Bible showing
the Whore of Babylon (Revelation 17) wearing a papal tiara
The leaders of the Protestant Reformation, too, were sensitive to ecclesiastical abuses and wished to reform them. Yet the reform of abuses was not their fundamental concern. The attempt to reform an institution, after all, suggests that its abuses are temporary blemishes on a body fundamentally sound and beautiful. Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin did not believe this. They attacked the corruption of the Renaissance papacy, but their aim was not merely to reform it; they identified the pope with Antichrist and wished to abolish the papacy altogether. They did not limit their attack on the sacrament of penance to the abuse of indulgences. They plucked out the sacrament itself root and branch because they believed it to have no scriptural foundation. They did not wish simply to reform monasticism; they saw the institution itself as a perversion. The Reformation was a passionate debate on the proper conditions of salvation. It concerned the very foundations of faith and doctrine. Protestants reproached the clergy not so much for living badly as for believing badly, for teaching false and dangerous things. Luther attacked not the corruption of institutions but what he believed to be the corruption of faith itself. The Protestant Reformation was not strictly a “reformation” at all. In the intention of its leaders it was a restoration of biblical Christianity. In practice it was a revolution, a full-scale attack on the traditional doctrines and sacramental structure of the Roman Church. It could say with Christ, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” In its relation to the Church as it existed in the second decade of the sixteenth century, it came not to reform but to destroy.

If the core issue was simply that many Catholic clerics weren’t living according to the teachings of the Catholic Church, Luther could have been a reformer. There were countless who had gone before him who worked to clean up the Church, and several of these men were canonized.

But that wasn’t what the Reformation was about: Luther wasn’t trying to get Catholics to live up to Catholic teachings as much as he was denying Catholic teachings, and the foundations upon which they were built. Put simply, the Reformation was primarily about faith, not works.

Collier’s Encyclopedia illustration, Martin Luther (1921)

Bear in mind, it’s not just modern historians who deny the whole narrative that Luther was a devout Catholic who got pushed out of the Church by the pope for asking too many questions or trying to clean things up. Luther’s own account explains his schism was due to his rejection of both the teaching authority and the teachings of the Catholic Church:

The chief cause that I fell out with the pope was this: the pope boasted that he was the head of the Church, and condemned all that would not be under his power and authority; for he said, although Christ be the head of the Church, yet, notwithstanding, there must be a corporal head of the Church upon earth. With this I could have been content, had he but taught the gospel pure and clear, and not introduced human inventions and lies in its stead. Further, he took upon him power, rule, and authority over the Christian Church, and over the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God; no man must presume to expound the Scriptures, but only he, and according to his ridiculous conceits; so that he made himself lord over the Church, proclaiming her at the same time a powerful mother, and empress over the Scriptures, to which we must yield and be obedient; this was not to be endured. They who, against God’s Word, boast of the Church’s authority, are mere idiots. The pope attributes more power to the Church, which is begotten and born, than to the Word, which has begotten, conceived, and born the Church.

By his own account, then, Luther left the Church because the Church has a pope, and the pope isn’t a Lutheran.

And of course it’s true that Luther’s ideal was that the entire Catholic Church disband Her core structures, abandon Her core beliefs, and start practicing and believing as Lutherans. Who wouldn’t go in for that kind of a deal? I’d gladly be a Jehovah’s Witness, if by Jehovah’s Witness, you mean Catholic. Luther would gladly be a Catholic, as long as you really mean Lutheran. But if that’s the case, what does it mean to say that Luther didn’t want to leave the Church? That’s a bit of a meaningless statement, isn’t it? I’ll stay in your religion if you replace your religious teachings with my own? 
I mean, has there ever been a schismatic or heretic who wouldn’t say as much? Surely, Nestorius would have loved to stay in the Church, if the Church would only become Nestorian. Joseph Smith would have been happy to remain a Methodist if all of the Methodists agreed to accept the Book of Mormon and make him the head of their religion. You get the idea. 
Plus, given that the Church has always viewed Her doctrines as irreformable (in the sense that She can’t declare X to be true one year and false the next), Luther’s obedience to the Church was premised off of Her doing the impossible. So the claim that Luther didn’t want to leave the Church is either false or meaningless.

*I’m indebted to Msgr. Michael Witt for tipping me off to this quotation. In addition to his work with the Archdiocese of Saint Louis and with Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, he’s also a Church historian, with lots of audio resources on Church history over on his website.


  1. I generally agree with this article but would like to pose a question. Why did the Reformation take hold with so many people? There are plenty of heretics born everyday but not all of them have a substantial amount of followers.

    1. It was the environment. A lot of the aristocratic monarchy did not like having to deal with the papacy. Luther was safe guarded among some German princes. They have money and subjects. There was also the printing press which allowed more people access to his writings. The conditions were ripe for a charismatic man.

    2. Let’s face it, mankind hates being told what to do. As Psalm 2 makes plain, humanity has been trying to throw off the authority of Christ and his Church since the beginning. “The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the Lord and against his Christ. Let us break their bonds asunder: and let us cast away their yoke from us.”

      If given the choice between submitting to authority, and having the “freedom” to make one’s own faith as one pleases, human nature will always choose the seeming freedom of rebellion. The reformation was just an excuse for prideful humanity to rebel against the lawful authority of Christ’s church.

    3. Paul warned us: “For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.”

  2. I agree it was the environment and the following factors played a huge role to give this heresy legs: (a) priestly abuse/hypocrisy, (b) removal of priestly tax paid to Rome, (c) redefining the conditions for divorce, (d) nationalism and (e) man becoming his own priest/church without feeling guilty or that he will rot in hell. Those factors made for a dangerous mix to allow a new form of Christianity to spring out of thin air. I think the reason this heresy has lasted so long (and will last) is that man gets to have Christ on man’s privately interpreted terms without regard to history or tradition and/or anyone else having power over him. Christianity is so much easier when you get to tell yourself how to worship and what to do intead of a Church on this earth telling you what to do.

    1. You said ” a church” There is only one church. Jesus said “upon this rock, I will build my church” He only built one. A true worshipper of God follows the words of the Bible and does not ” get to tell himself how to worship;”
      Also you said give an example of someone worshipping without a priest. The Bible tells us that where two or more are gathered in God’s name, He will be there. He did not say one of those had to be a priest. Following God’s commands in our daily life and giving Him praise and glory is worship. We must be careful though. We are told to search the scriptures daily to see if what we hear or believe is true. .

  3. I’m not sure that Protestantism produces much holier people. Maybe it appears that way at times, but Catholicism (including the Orthodox) far outweigh the number of alleged Protestants. Protestantism still has some significant Christian truth (ex. the Trinity) but it rarely admits where it obtain such truth. The Reformation was more of a Recreation because it created a brand new form of worship and belief that did not exist on this planet prior to the Reformation. It still irks me that guys like RC Sproul quote St. Augustine and St. Acquinas but ignore the fact that these Saints died believing in the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH and were sacerdotal to the core. Protestantism cannot work in a sacerdotal form of worship. There were no proto-protestants on this planet.

    1. The NT was not sacerdotal. For one there is no office of priest mentioned for the NT church. See I Tim 3. Nor is the papacy as an office mentioned either.

    2. There is no Trinity either. Please tell us why you don’t reject that doctrine as well. Also, tell is where scripture is self defining and limiting to itself? And finally, when in history were Christians actually worshipping without a priest? Some dates please.

    1. Angry Young Man,

      I don’t mind you copying my blog title or URL, nor do I mind that you wrote a response article. By all means, I think that we have a better shot at arriving at the truth if we discuss these things openly and honestly. But I do wish that you had been a bit more charitable in your interpretation of my position, because by the end of your post, I don’t see a single point that I’ve made that you’ve refuted … or even made a serious attempt to interact with. This is all the more ironic, given that your last four paragraphs were focused on how you think that I (and other Catholics) straw-man the Protestant positions, since like most Catholics, I “have no idea what Protestants believe.

      It’s true that the positions that you accuse me of holding sound nothing like what Protestants believe; but they also sound nothing like the positions that I articulated in the post that you’re critiquing. To begin, you claim that my position is “intellectual discrimination or some other form of discrimination,” since my approach is that “Protestants don’t get to say what Protestants believe, only Catholics get to say what Protestants believe.

      This accusation is just bizarre, since you follow it up with several paragraphs of me quoting at length from, and then interacting with, arguments made by Brad Winsted, a Presbyterian; and Matthew W. Crick, a Lutheran. In other words, I let them make their case, and then showed why that case was wrong.

      Given your lamentations of how badly you’re being misinterpreted, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect your post to actually address my argument. But as far as I can tell, you don’t really. Instead, here are the argument that you claim that I am making:

      1. “The original Reformers knew that they were only interested in creating a new church. It’s simply a modern invention to believe that the Reformation had anything to do with Reform.

      Not only is this not what I claimed in the post, I actually make a contrary claim. I said: “the Reformation was primarily about faith, not works.” That’s a far cry from “exclusively,” and the passage I quoted from Rice acknowledged the role abuses played, as did the paragraph following that passage.

      2. “What is it that I’m being accused of irrationality about at this point? If there’s any demonstration that I’m being inconsistent in my thought, now would be a lovely time to hear about it.

      Of course, I never suggested that anyone was being irrational in my post. You’re tilting at windmills here. My argument was, and is, that the standard Protestant history is wrong.

      3. You then spend several paragraphs refuting the idea that Luther had no education, was an idiot, etc., beginning with the line “By what education could he have done this?

      Again, these are responding to arguments that I’m not making: where in the post did I claim anything that could even be remotely construed as saying that Luther was uneducated or an idiot? He got a generally-solid Catholic education (you’re welcome). It’s true that he did have bad philosophy and bad eclessiology, and at least part of that is based on the folks he was reading at the University of Erfurt, which was heavily Nominalist at the time (sorry). Luther was neither the first nor the last clergyman to have imperfect formation.

      It’s possible that you raise these points to try to prove that Luther was right because he was a smart monk with a solid Catholic education. But if that’s the case, surely you see how quickly that would backfire, given that he was opposed by men who were far better educated and far more intelligent. I don’t think that the Reformation will be settled by comparing intellectual pedigrees (which, in any case, all came from Roman Catholic institutions, taught by our clergy and monks). If that’s not the reason you raise them, I can’t fathom what you’re driving at.

    2. The rest of the post was basically about how Catholics are quite content to ignore Scripture and Tradition in order to dumbly believe whatever the Church tells them. This is all silly. If you don’t think that Catholics have a living faith, you either don’t know very many Catholics, don’t know very good Catholics, or don’t know these Catholics well enough (perhaps you approach them with the same assumption of bad faith that you approached this blog post).

      To the extent that you present any non-sarcastic, non-straw man position on the subject, you seem to agree with me completely: that Luther’s 95 theses “attacked not only their abuses but also their doctrinal basis.” Ah. So we both agree that the Reformation wasn’t about some loyal Catholic going about reforming the Church of sinful behavior or abuses of Catholic doctrine: it was about attacking the Catholic doctrines themselves. If that’s the case, I don’t really see what objection you have to my characterization of the argument?

      If you want to argue that Luther was trying to be a loyal son of the Catholic Church (even though he rejected Catholic teachings, and the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, including both the papacy and Ecumenical Councils), can you explain to me how the same couldn’t be true of every heretic or schismatic? In trying to stretch “loyal Catholic” to reach Luther, I don’t see who that term couldn’t be made to cover.



      P.S. You said that you were “still waiting for a Catholic to accurately portray what Sola Scriptura is.” I think you’ll find that I give some of that nuance in the preface to this post, as well as interspersed several other places on this site. I use the Tradition 0 / Tradition 1 that Mathison, Patton, and others use. I should note that many Protestants mean Tradition 0 when they say sola Scriptura, and these are usually the people that Catholics are responding to. So it’s not that Catholics are setting up a Protestant straw man. It’s that Protestants have a hugely diverse set of beliefs, even on core issues, so not every answer to a Protestant belief is going to be an answer to your version of that Protestant belief.

  4. Excellent post Joe, the German princes saw an advantage to increasing their power over their subjects by breaking with Rome. Except that I cant get the link to work, I should like to ask the angry young man about “Sola Scriptura” – where is that in the Bible?

  5. It’s my understanding that the nailing of the 95 theses was just a posting for a debate. It was one of several such debates common at the time that was well within the freedom theologians had within the time. Witness Erasmus died a Roman Catholic despite his anti-magesterial views. Also, about have of his theses were not condemned by the Pope, meaning they were allowable theological speculations and opinions.

    His teachings eventually started going a bit far and Cajetan was sent in to cross-examine/debate him. Cajetan pressed him until Luther was either forced to repudiate his teachings, or reject the authority of Popes and Ecumenical Councils and the Magesterium, and even the laity. At that point, Luther’s pride drove him to cross the Rubicon. But if you can’t trust Popes and Ecumenical Councils and the Magesterium and even the laity, what can you trust? He clung to the only remaining source of authority, the Bible, and eventually his 5 solas. At the time, it did seem like a reasonable foundation for a nominalist Christianity, but it quickly fragmented to the point where those 5 solas were provably not enough to base a church off of. But pride prevented Luther from seeing this…people disagreed with him because they were wrong or disingenious or stupid.

    So it is fair to say that he didn’t originally intend to start his own Church, but once he crossed that Rubicon, like Macbeth, he was “too deep in blood and it was easier to go forward than back”. He even repudiated his own and his wife’s own vows of chastity to God and stated that even if a angel of heaven contradicted him he was right. Pride can take you far down dark paths, farther than you ever intended to go.

  6. What Catholic doctrine was Luther really trying to “reform” as opposed to making up his own new doctrine and thereafter imposing it on the Catholic Church? I presume a Protestant will claim that the new doctrines were always in scripture. Let’s assume such new doctrines were always in scripture, why is there no historical support for such interpretation of scripture for 1,400+ years? I’m not aware of any proto-protestant in history that Luther could use to support his personal view of scripture.

  7. It seems that you are most riled up about Luther’s quote, which you do not cite by the way. Is the quote really that shocking? Luther objected to the Pope boasting to be the head of the church. Is the Pope the head of the church or is Christ the head of the church? (Ephesians 5:23) I am rather biased on this topic.

    1. It needs to be either/or. There is only one head of the church. There is only one good shepherd. If the Pope claims to be Christ, then that is idolatry. The Pope can claim to be the representative of Christ. The Pope can claim to be the head of the visible church (again with that Protestant notion) or the head of the church on earth. The Pope can be the bishop of Rome, the first of the Patriarchs, or any other title he may want, but the Pope cannot claim to be Christ. There needs to be some qualifier present, and that is how I read this Luther quote.

    2. I am not comfortable with calling Peter the shepherd of the flock. Jesus said that there is only one shepherd (John 10:16), and Jesus is clearly saying he is the one and only good shepherd. It is for this reason that I have on my business cards the title of “sheep dog of the Good Shepherd”. I am not the good shepherd, but I serve the church.

    3. Rev. Hans,

      In your original comment, you mentioned someone being ruled about an unmentioned Luther quote. What was that a reference to?

      As for the post itself, I’m not trying to smear Luther or anything of the sort. I’m just wanting to know what (if anything) it means to call Luther a Catholic reformer, given his rejection of Catholic teachings and Catholic teaching authority.

      For example, if you called your congregation to better live out the faith that you profess, or called on the ELCA to crack down on abides more, it would make sense to call you a “Lutheran reformer” or something. But if instead, you took to the pulpit to deny sola fide and sola Scriptura, you wouldn’t be a Lutheran reformer. You’d just be a nominal Lutheran who rejected Lutheranism. This would be objectively true, regardless of whether you or the ELCA was correct.



    4. You did not give the citation for the Luther quote in the post, but I saw that there was a link to the original. It is interesting that you found a quote from Luther about the Papacy that came 15 years after his excommunication. Do you see a logical issue with this as the basis of your understanding of Luther’s view of the church? I find this very troubling, especially because the basis of your post was about the topic of Luther wanting to reform the church or to create his own church from the start. His quote you posted was 15 years after he was kicked out of the Roman church, yet you were trying to create an argument for original causation of the Reformation. If you can find a quote from Luther about the church from before the Papal Bull (or better yet would be one from 1517), then that would be a much stronger argument for your position. Since you are attempting to show a new idea that goes against the generally held view, the burden of proof is on you to show overwhelming proof (or at least pertinent evidence).

      By the way, you have not jumped into the question about who the head of the church is, which I believe is the actual point of the Luther quote you provided. Is it the Pope or Jesus?

    5. Rev –

      Your question about who’s in charge of the church is too general. In charge when and where? On earth? Right now? Remove space/time? And finally, what do you mean by “in charge”?

    6. cwdlaw223, you have an issue with hearing what you want to hear. I did not ask “who’s in charge of the church”. I asked who the “head of the church” was. There is a major difference between these two. Luther understood the difference. Does the Roman church understand the difference?

    7. Rev –

      Please state the difference between “in charge” vs “head” of the Church so I can answer your question quicker. The RCC has never denied that Christ is the high priest.

    8. You still do not understand. You are again bringing up a different term. Do you have different terms for each new reply so that you do not have to answer the question? You indirectly admitted to not understanding the difference because you asked for my understanding before you could answer the question. And you said one of my answers was a cop out?!?!?!? Ha ha ha ha ha!!!! Peace to you and “Bless your heart”!

    9. Rev –

      Please explain to me the difference between in charge and the head of something! You claim there is a major difference so please state such difference. If you think head and in charge are significantly different terms then explain to me what you mean by the word head. They are synonyms in my world. Furthermore, when has the RCC denied God officially as its head? Or are you going to get into some esoteric discussion about good vs. bad works and if the RCC allowed bad things to happens by people who represented the Church at times in secular matters that it must be apostate? State your position.

  8. Rev –

    Me?? Seems to me that Luther was trying to create new doctrines without any historical support except what he thought the scriptures meant instead of what actually happened on planet earth. Somehow everyone missed the obvious in scripture and was wrong for 1,400+ years.

    1. You are fully entitled to this view/opinion. I see Luther as an Augustinian monk trying to get the church back to the gospel. The church did sway for periods in the middle ages (the Avignon Popes, selling Indulgences, the Crusades, and the general corruption), which is why the Holy Spirit called reformers like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Dominic, Luther, and Huss to name a few. Luther called the church upon many of the issues and was rather abrasive about it. Luther’s attempts to reform were just too much and too harsh (I would say too many truth bombs were dropped) for the church to accept at that time. I understand Luther in the theological line of St. Augustine of Hippo. Luther wanted to get back to St. Augustine’s teaching on original sin, grace, and the message of the gospel.

    2. Rev –

      When you say back to the gospel, do you mean worship without the sacraments? Worship that doesn’t have the Mass with the physical flesh and blood of Christ? Please explain.

    3. cwdlaw223, it is hard to understand your responses to my comments because you bring up issues that have nothing to do with my comments. Your two responses above show you have no clear understanding of Lutheranism. I will restrain myself because you are still my brother/sister in Christ. Peace to you!

    4. Rev –

      That’s a cop out. Here is an easy one for you. Where in history was there a group of people who worshipped Christ anywhere near your view of Lutheranism? What were they called? Where did they worship? Luther created a new form of Christianity out of thin air.

    5. Rev –

      How do you get back to the “message of the gospel” by destroying the sacraments? Historic Christianity is based and built upon the sacraments which Luther destroyed. Saint Augustine never taught a gospel without the Mass and to state that he did is an outright lie. There is a fundamental difference in the defintion of the word reform that does not include complete change of the underlying system itself. Luther created a complete change in the system. If you think he didn’t create a complete change, please provide me with historical evidence of believers who worshipped Christ WITHOUT THE MASS and believed like Luther from 100 AD to 500 AD? Should be easy to do. Unfortunately, reforming those in the Church is vastly different than reforming Church doctrine. Luther might have wanted to reform the actual humans in the Church, but what he did is end up trying to change Church dogma which never needed reforming.

  9. Just cause I can’t stand wrong things today…(I’m cringing because I can’t correct a facebook comment about limbo. It’s like nails on a chalk board. Must.resist.insanity.of.bad.historical.information)

    It’s unlikely that Luther ever nailed his 95 thesis to a church door. He wasn’t known to do that sort of thing and he never mentions having done so. Joe explains here (http://catholicdefense.blogspot.ca/2011/10/three-reformation-day-ironies.html) but he’s not the only one who talks about it. Wikipedia naturally matter-of-factly concludes they were nailed. Others are unsure. A recent discovery of a notation saying specifically when and where they were nailed by a contemporary makes it all more puzzling. Especially since this person’s notation was too precise. It is clear though that he mailed them out to a couple of people.

    Luther was a Catholic. He certainly wanted Reforms, but he also wanted to change Church teachings. If you read the Theses it’s very evident (http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/web/ninetyfive.html). To me this furthers Joe’s explanation that Luther wanted to create a different church. He really didn’t see the need for priests, sacraments, or the pope.

  10. Creating a system of worship without priests or sacraments (especially the Mass with the physical flesh and blood of Christ) as the “true gospel” has absolutely zero historical support. If Luther was correct than Christianity was wrong for 1,400 years and I believe that would make Christ a failure with his Church. There is and always will be someone who comes along claiming a better interpretation of scripture than those who actually lived and recorded the faith while directly under or only one or two persons removed from the Apostles themselves.

    1. This is a good question. I added the line because I saw several clergy business cards claiming to be shepherds of large flocks. I wanted my card to reflect the fact that I know that I am not the Good Shepherd. The discussion of separation of priest and people is a valid one and one that should be addressed.

  11. This is the problem within the RCC–“…given that the Church has always viewed Her doctrines as irreformable (in the sense that She can’t declare X to be true one year and false the next..”. This is why we see so many doctrinal contradictions.

    1. Meyu,

      So your position is that if the Church could just contradict Herself, we wouldn’t see as many contradictions?

      I suppose I should defer to your expertise in this area, but that seems pretty… well, contradictory.



      P.S. More seriously, you’re getting to the heart of the matter, I think. It goes much deeper than any one particular doctrine, and touches something systemic. You and the Reformers view the Church in one way (as a system that is both capable of, and riddled with, doctrinal errors). She views Herself very differently (as the Bride of Christ, under perpetual Divine protection from doctrinal error).

      Without even getting into the question as to which of us is right, can you see why these two views are so fundamentally incompatible that it would be folly to think that Luther could have succeeded in getting the entire Catholic Church to simply cease believing that She was the Catholic Church?

    2. Joe,
      Yes. The church at the time of Luther was corrupted. Just look at the papacy. History shows that the leaders of the RCC were unwilling to repent of its errors and so the Protestant reformation became a necessity. The church leaders wanted to shut Luther up.

    3. Meyu,

      I’m not asking if there was corruption in the Church.* The question that I’m asking is whether Luther intended to start his own Church. You seem to be saying that he did (and was justified in doing so), but then insist upon calling it a “reformation,” which suggests an internal cleanup. So which is it? And what is your basis for this conclusion?



      *There always has been corruption in the Church (literally, from the time of the Apostles). And as long as fallen man is entrusted with positions of authority, there always will be corruption. That said, your description of the history is pretty inaccurate: the Catholics debated every question Luther raised, and agreed with him on several points. Luther’s frustration wasn’t that they weren’t answering his challenges. It’s that he didn’t like the answers that they were giving.

    4. Don’t know the history of Luther that well to know. No doubt at a minimum the church needed to reform. There were also political reasons that need to factor into the Protestant Reformation. This was because the church was heavily involved in the politics at the time. It was an evil partnership with the Emperor Charles V. Nowhere in the NT did Jesus nor His apostles ever teach that the church was to be in a partnership with the governing authorities.

      Why did the church ask Luther to renounce all his works if they supposedly answered his challenges?

      The fact is that the church was to corrupted to make the fundamental changes so as to be the true church that Christ established.

      Here part of the problem you have: your church claims to be guided by the Holy Spirit and yet we see such corruption at the leadership level throughout the centuries that show this claim to be false.

      You claim “There always has been corruption in the Church (literally, from the time of the Apostles). And as long as fallen man is entrusted with positions of authority, there always will be corruption.” Were the apostles after Pentecost corrupt?

    5. Meyu,

      I appreciate your humility about the history of Luther, but I would suggest that the whole of Medieval history is far more complicated than you realize. For example, the question of how a Catholic king should govern a Catholic state, and what his relationship is (or ought to be) to the Church, is not exactly spelled out in Scripture, one way or the other. The Scriptures were written at a time in which there were a handful of Catholics in high places (e.g,. “Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward,” Luke 8:3), but no serious political authority. And it’s not as if Protestantism has answered this question, either: there are widely-varying views on the role of faith and religion in political governance. You might disagree with some of the ways that these questions were answered (although you plainly lack the expertise to pass the sort of judgments that you’re passing), but it’s ignorance, and rash judgment, to call it an “evil partnership.”

      As for corruption in the Church, there has been from the start. Christ chose Twelve, including Judas (who behaved worse than any pope in history). By your logic, this “proves” that the institution of the Apostles was contrary to the Holy Spirit… which is, of course, heretical and wrong.



    6. Joe,
      How could it not be an evil partnership given that many who opposed the RCC were put to death or tortured? Just look at the history of the inquisitions which had the full support of the papacy for centuries.

      Do you think anyone has the expertise to pass judgment on the inquisitions and calling them evil?

    7. Meyu,

      I do, but I don’t think that you do. The story of the Inquisition is far more complicated than you realize. Do you also condemn Protestantism for burning Catholics and heretics at the stake?



    8. Joe,
      Yes. It was wrong for Protestants to do it. However, in light of the claims of your church to be guided by the Holy Spirit and to be the only true church how could there even be such a thing as the inquisitions that went on for centuries?

      Are you saying I’m incapable or not qualified to judge the inquisitions as evil?

    9. Meyu,

      I hear this argument with some frequency from Protestants, but I don’t understand it. You say that if Catholicism were guided by the Holy Spirit, the Inquisition wouldn’t have happened. But then you say that the Protestant Reformation was “of Christ,” yet it resulted in the mass killing of Catholics and heretics. So which is it?

      Is it possible for a Church to be led by the Holy Spirit, and still have sinful members — and wicked deeds done in Her name? Or no?

      If yes, then the Inquisition isn’t the silver bullet you seem to think. If no, then Protestantism is doomed.



      P.S. As to your second question, the reason that you aren’t qualified to judge the Inquisitions as evil is because you’re uninformed on them. You’re passing judgment on little more than rumors, without having read anything serious on the subject.

      The myth of the Inquisition and the reality are vastly different things. Long story short: the ruling authority of secular leaders throughout Europe was founded upon the idea that they derive their authority from God, as Romans 13:1 says. As a result, heresy was a secular capital crime, since it denied the foundation of the secular authority.

      Certain rulers began using these anti-heresy laws to wipe out their enemies (just as anti-blasphemy laws are currently being misused in Islamic countries). The Church stepped in to limit the abuses caused by these accusations, by holding formal investigations to determine that the accused were actually guilty.

      These were rougher times, and it’s easy to pass judgment on them from cozy 21st century America. And admittedly, some Inquisitors acted overzealously, and even evilly. But the reality is that the Inquisitions, on the whole, were very good.

      The Inquisition served as a relatively sophisticated criminal justice system. As with any criminal justice system, including our own, abuses occurred. But that no more justifies condemning the entire Inquisition than police abuses or capital punishment justify abolishing the entire American criminal justice system.

    10. Joe,
      It is your church that claims to be the only true church that is guided by the Holy Spirit. We can test this claim by looking at its history and see if this is indeed the case. One piece of evidence against it are the inquisitions. It showed that your church was not led by the Holy Spirit nor Scripture.

      How do you know what I have read on the inquisitions?

      It was wrong for those Protestants to put anyone to death. That is an abuse of the teachings of Christ.

  12. cwdlaw223,
    Doctrines such as the papacy itself. Indulgences, the priesthood. There was no office of priest in the NT.

    Where do we see sacraments (“”efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacraments_of_the_Catholic_Church) mentioned in the NT?

    Yes the apostles were sinners after Pentecost but not corrupted like some of the popes. The apostles were not part of a corrupted church back then.

  13. Who ever got Christianity “correct” in your view? It certainly wasn’t correct according to the historical documents we have showing a sacerdotal form of worship since day one. Everyone believed in a priesthood and everyone thought they were consuming the physical flesh and blood of Christ. They were canibals!!!

    So if the Popes abused their economic power that means that Rome’s theology was wrong and unbiblical? Not sure how you can make that leap.

    Where do we find one single person in early church history that believed anywhere near Luther’s new beliefs. Or will you, like Joseph Smith, state the Church went apostate right out of the gate. That’s the least you could do.

  14. You are not here arguing whether anything to which Luther reacted was right. So I am asking, do you agree with any of Luther’s push-backs to the Catholic church at the time? If I were to ask a Catholic (as I now am ;)), has anything good come from Protestantism over the last 500 years? What have Catholics learned from Luther’s “revolution,” and is any of it what you would call “good”?

    1. I assume you are asking anybody…Really it’s a matter of opinion. Naturally the Church has always welcomed dialogue and reform. So Luther discussing the problem with indulgences was good. The problem wasn’t about his pointing out the corruption of the selling of indulgences. It was his desire to change Church doctrine. Luther was not the only one at the time calling for reforms. Nor was he the first. There were several reformers prior to Luther. http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2013/07/ignatius-of-loyola-and-ideas-of-catholic-reform.html

      As a Catholic I’ve always believed that God manages to make things “good” out our screw ups. And I think this is true of Luther, but it could just as easily have happened despite Luther. In other words, I think Luther’s reforms or they way he wanted things brought about (that is breaking from the Church) weren’t necessary.

    2. Deltaflute–So in what ways did Luther change church doctrine that was bad, in your opinion? I assume that nothing about changing church doctrine is considered good?

      Perhaps reforms could have been brought on another way, but we serve a sovereign God who knew Luther would be the mechanism and that Protestantism would be born.

      Meyu–to your statement, if it was not “of Christ” it could not have survived and thrived, I would disagree. Many things survive and thrive that are not “of Christ.” I would say that God is sovereign over all, but not automatically lump anything to being “of Christ,” for I know many Protestants who abuse and misuse Christ and his name.

    3. The Protestant heresy is of man, not Christ. It only survives because of ignorance and easy believism. Man is completely unmoored from any Church and he gets to feel spiritual while making up his own rules for how to worship Christ. Pism is dying and will never completely fall upon itself because it hooks right into man’ sown pride.

    4. Heresy is a strong word. It would logically come that if Pism is heresy, then Protestants cannot know God nor be Christian. This is simply not true. Though I agree with you on the one hand, that Protestants have created all sorts of factions that believe a myriad of things, one can encounter the Triune God in Pism. Disciples are made. Christ is proclaimed. Not everywhere, but in many places over the last 500 years in Pism, Christ has been uplifted.

    5. Elisabeth,

      You said: “You are not here arguing whether anything to which Luther reacted was right.” Exactly. I’m so glad that you saw this, because the point of this post wasn’t so much “Luther was wrong” (and certainly not “Luther was wrong about everything”), but “Luther wasn’t simply trying to get Catholics to start following the teachings of the Catholic Church; rather, he was rejecting (at least parts of) the Catholic religion from the very beginning.”

      As for your major question, it’s a good one. A lot of Luther’s legacy, and the legacy of Protestantism more broadly, is positive. I can think of three major categories:

      (1) Calling attention to abuses within the Church: there absolutely were abuses within the Church. Others besides Luther were already complaining about these things, but I think that the already-existing reform movement was taken a lot more seriously when Catholics could see the consequences of not tackling internal problems.

      (2) Calling attention to false teachings and false teachers: there were Catholic priests preaching something very contrary to what the Church taught. And of course, the various forms of Protestantism all teach different things. By taking certain ideas to their logical limits (as Calvinism does with double predestination), it exposed what might otherwise seem like small problems. [In other words, if X is true, it leads to such-and-such Protestant doctrine; we know that doctrine to be false, so X must also be false].

      (3) Forcing the Church to settle some unanswered questions: Often, the Church doesn’t answer a question until it is asked. So, throughout the history of the Church, doctrinal definition tends to happen when there’s a major “stir.” So, for example, it wasn’t really until the Trinity was under serious attack by heretical sects that the Catholic Church hammered out exactly what She believes (and doesn’t believe) on the subject. So, too, when Protestantism started doubting (e.g,.) Purgatory, how justification works, the authority of certain Books of the Bible, etc., the Church responded forcefully, and in a way that surely helped clarify things for ordinary Catholics.

      The Council of Trent is one of the finest Councils in the history of the Church, and one of the clearest explanations of various points of Catholic doctrine. And it was convened largely in response to the crisis brought about by the Reformation.

      Obviously, in addition to this, there are the many positives done by various individual Protestants. Fr. Louis Bouyer has a book, The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, that shows various ways in which Protestantism has both helped and hurt the Body of Christ.



    6. Christ promised to build His church and the Protestant Reformation is a sign of that process. One of the fruits of it is that Christians no longer had to be connected to a church that was corrupted. The Christian could now worship in a church that had the gospel.

    7. Meyu said, “If the Protestant Reformation was not of Christ it could not have survived and thrived as long as it has.”

      Let’s take that claim seriously. If Protestantism lasting for 500 years means that it’s of Christ, then we must say that Orthodoxy, which is as large as Protestantism and has lasted 1000 years, is doubly of Christ. And yet Orthodoxy condemns key Protestant teachings as heretical. And if Orthodoxy is doubly of Christ for lasting 1000 years, then Catholicism is twice that, since it’s lasted 2000 years, and has more members than Orthodoxy and Protestantism …. combined. It’s survived longer than Protestantism, and thrived more than Protestantism. So Meyu has laid out a very good case to believe that Catholicism is the Church of Christ. But if that’s true, then the Reformation was a breaking away from Christ’s Church, and we should give up the pretense of defending it as some kind of necessary evil (even though many good things happened in the aftermath of the Reformation, St. Paul cautions using this as a basis to justify evil: Romans 3:8).

      So Meyu’s test suggests that Catholicism is of Christ, and that Protestantism breaking away from the Church shouldn’t have happened.

      But let me go ahead and propose two other standards to consider:

      1) Does it unite or divide the Body of Christ? Christ prayed that we would all remain One (John 17:20-23). And that’s been the hallmark of the true Church since Pentecost. How do we know? Because Pentecost is the answer to Babel. In both cases, the people begin speaking in different tongues.
      Babel, being the work of men, resulted in confusion, division, and separation (Genesis 11:8-9). Pentecost, being the work of men, resulted in unity: the believers, although of different languages and cultures, were of one heart and one mind (Acts 4:32; Philippians 2:2).

      Meyu claims that Christ wanted the Protestant Reformation to happen. Does Christ want us to be Lutherans, then? Or does He want us to be Presbyterians? Or Episcopalians or Anglicans? Or Anabaptists? Or Baptists? Or Pentecostals or Assemblies of God? Or Methodists? Or Disciples of Christ? Or Quakers? Or Mennonites? Or Amish? Or Congregationalists? Or Seventh-Day Adventists?

      Each of these denominations believes something contrary to each of these other denominations, often on very important issues. Does Christ want us to be disunified, and thrown into utter doctrinal confusion?

      Meyu speaks as if Protestantism is one thing, but it’s not, and has never been. Luther disagreed with the German peasants (who considered themselves Lutherans), both disagreed with Calvin and Beza, all of whom disagreed with Zwingli, etc., etc., etc. As soon as you take authority away from the Church, and give it to the individual believer, you get doctrinal chaos. What’s worse, because they’ve in schism from one another as well as from the Church, these doctrinal problems are irresolvable: there’s not even a judge to take the case to.

      Does that sound like the work of God? Does that sound like Pentecost? Or does it sound like the work of man, like Babel?

    8. 2. Is the church internally consistent? Another mark of the true Church is the consistency of the Gospel. “As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silva′nus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes.” (2 Cor. 1:19-20).
      As mentioned above, the various Protestant denominations fail this by disagreeing with one another. But even within the same denomination, you’ll find this sort of internal contradiction.

      I’m not talking here about some Christians holding to one view, and some to another. I’m talking about the denomination itself teaching one thing, and then reversing and contradicting itself (showing itself not to be consistently preaching the Gospel promised us by the Apostles).

      You mentioned being in an Anglican church, so I hope you won’t mind my picking on them for this example. In the Six Articles of 1539, the Anglican church declared transubstantiation true, saying that “after the consecration there remaineth no substance of bread and wine, nor any other substance but the substance of Christ, God and man.” In the Thirty-Nine Articles of 1571, the Anglican church declared transubstantiation false, saying that it “is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.”

      Christ is always Yes: He doesn’t permit internal incoherence and contradictions. So the Anglican church showed itself, by this reversal, to be the work of man, not God. Either it was teaching heresy in 1539, or in 1571, or both.

      In contrast, the Catholic Church has believed and taught the same things for two thousand years. Sometimes, She has to spell out something new, but She never contradicts and reverses Herself. (This is, ironically, the very thing that meyu complained about below).



    9. Joe,
      Did the Reformers disagree on what the gospel is?

      How can you say that your church is “consistent with the gospel” when Trent denies the gospel? How can your church be consistent with the gospel when it has added to the gospel such things as works, subjection to the pope for salvation and the necessity of the sacraments for salvation? The apostles nor Christ ever taught these things.

      I could list a number of other things that the apostles never taught but your church does. So the idea that your church “taught the same things for two thousand years” is false.

      As for unity, the papacy is one of the greatest causes for separation in the church. The schism of 1054 is one example of this.

    10. Meyu,

      Trent doesn’t deny the Gospel. It denies what you think the Gospel is. But if there’s any governing principle in throughout Christian history, it’s that the individual doesn’t judge the Church or Her Conucils, but vice versa. Both the Catholics and Orthodox are perfectly clear on this.

      Maybe it would help if you instead answered the questions proposed:

      – Has Protestantism united or divided the Body of Christ?
      – Are there more or fewer denominations now than before the Reformation?
      – How many Protestant denominations are there?
      – Which one does Christ want us to be in? Or does He not care? As I asked before, ” Does Christ want us to be Lutherans, then? Or does He want us to be Presbyterians? Or Episcopalians or Anglicans? Or Anabaptists? Or Baptists? Or Pentecostals or Assemblies of God? Or Methodists? Or Disciples of Christ? Or Quakers? Or Mennonites? Or Amish? Or Congregationalists? Or Seventh-Day Adventists?”
      – Is Protestantism internally consistent? (If yes, can you at least show me a denomination that has consistently held the same doctrinal positions since the Reformation?)



    11. Meyu,

      As for the “myth” of Catholic unity, here’s what I said:

      “I’m not talking here about some Christians holding to one view, and some to another. I’m talking about the denomination itself teaching one thing, and then reversing and contradicting itself (showing itself not to be consistently preaching the Gospel promised us by the Apostles).”

      So it’s not enough to show that some religious group has hypocritical or dissenting members (every religious group ever had that, including the Apostles themselves). Again, you’re focusing on sinful members, and I’m asking which is the true Church. But we already know that the true Church has sinful members, or else we would both be out of luck, wouldn’t we?



    12. Joe,
      Your church via Trent is teaching a different gospel than what the apostles taught. I gave you some of the things your church has added to the gospel. Here are few examples where Trent denied the gospel:
      CANON 9: “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.”

      This denies Rom 3:24, 28, 5:1

      CANON 12: “If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified … let him be accursed”

      This denies Rom 3:28 and 4:3

      Church unity does involve its members and many of the members of your church do not adhere to its teachings. This means many of its member are not in unity with the RCC.

      Those Protestants who believe in Christ for salvation are in unity. Christ wants His people to be in a church that teaches the gospel. The name of the church is irrelevant.

      Since the Reformation what Protestant churches have denied that Christ is God and died for our sins and rose again? Which Protestant church has said that a person has said he must be in subjection to the pope for salvation?

      I personally don’t know of a Protestant church that has changed its view on this. Maybe you do.

      Since the Protestant churches that I’m aware of believe in the same essential doctrines how does it follow that because there are different churches and denominations that they are not united in Christ?

    13. “Since the Reformation what Protestant churches have denied that Christ is God and died for our sins and rose again”

      Um…let’s see. Jehovah’s witnesses dont believe in a triune God. Neither do Mormons.

      There are no Protestant groups that hold the same dogmas unless you are of the same group like Northern Baptists versus Southern Baptists. But they still disagree about what is dogma even among individual churches.

    14. Jehovah’s witnesses and Mormons are not Protestants. They are cults.

      Do any Baptists deny the deity of Christ and that He died for our sins? Do any deny that the Scriptures are the Word of God?

    15. Non trinitarians denominations are a sub section of Protestantism since the basic definition means to be in Protest of Rome. They grew our of the pentacostal movement. Although Joseph Smith is an exception. Having been around since the late 19 th and early 20 th c they hardly qualify as cults.

  15. I think meyu ignores history or he has to admit that the sacerdotal church (which was the only church) in history was apostate. If Christ couldn’t get his own Church to find theological truth for 1,400 years then he was a failure and liar in my opinion and Christianity should be rejected by Christ’s own words. Joseph Smith realized that the Reformers didn’t reform anything but created something new out of thin air without any historical support. Smith got around this problem by claiming the church went apostate after the death of John. That cleans up the history problem for a lot of people.

    1. Because there is no early church history that supports your view of Christianity! You have no evidence that those closest to Apostolic teaching sided with your personal interpretation of scripture. You are left with at least two conclusions by ignoring history: (a) man was ignorant of scripture, and/or (b) the church went apostate right out of the gate. Please explain why your position is so obvious from scripture but it wasn’t obvious for 1,400 years? The Word was never hidden.

    2. Meyu –

      Why won’t you provide any historical evidence for your interpretation of the gospel? Just name a few folks from 100 AD through 500 AD. It should be easy if your version of the gospel is so clear. Who were these believers who didn’t partake of the Mass.

    3. Meyu –

      I’m glad you’re finally rejecting sola scriptura since that isn’t in scripture nor logically inferred from scripture. You’re locked yourself in to a theological prison by claiming it must be specifically stated or shown in scripture. Show me a group of people from 100 AD through 500 AD who rejected the priesthood and the Mass!!!!!!!!! Should be easy is scripture is so clear that there is no need for priests or the Mass.

  16. Elizabeth –

    Every heresy has partial truth and will appear to have something “good” about it. That is how the devil works. He gets people to believe a lie as truth.

    1. Luther was a full blown heretic. Read his writings. If Luther isn’t a heretic than nobody is a heretic and truth can violate the law of non-contradiction. If Luther was correct than Christ failed with his Church and Christ himself would be a liar and Christianity a fantasy.

    2. He might not have started out trying to create a new religion, but that is what he and Calvin did. The sin of pride was Luther’s downfall. He sacrificed Christ’s Church for his own ego in being right. Protestantism is a half truth which is what the devil wants to lead people astray and away from truth.

    3. Luther is no different than Joseph Smith or Ellen White in creating a new religion out of thin air without any historical support. There will always be men like this in battling Christ’s Church. It will never stop. This world detests hard truth. It prefers half truth.

  17. Thanks for responding and allowing me to post a URL, I was worried I’d be accused of Spamming or something 🙂
    As for my Blog title I have plans to change it if the Lord shall grant me the creativity to have a better name come to me!

    My objections were a little bit clearer than I think you’re giving me credit for, for example, most Catholics will respond to “Sola Scriptura” with where’s that in the bible? Or they’ll misrepresent it so grossly to the point of displacing all the creeds and Catechisms of the Reformers…
    My statements about the “Catholics [who] are quite content to ignore Scripture and Tradition in order to dumbly believe whatever the Church tells them.” Comes from my own experience in the Orthodox church, when I was told to read the writing of St. John Chrysostom who clearly didn’t believe the way I was being told to believe.
    My questions were basically answered with “because the church says so” answers, and that’s why I’m no longer an “Orthodox” Christian.

    Your characterization of the Reformation actually comes from a good characterization of Catholic claims, all I was saying or trying to respond to was the basic claim that: (paraphrasing) “The Reformation was not about Reforming something old but creating something new”.
    That’s my objection there.

    As to the rest of your response I feel like there’s honestly too much of a language barrier for any communication to actually be achieved… that’s not an insult, I’m just not sure if dialogue between two people who have the same words that mean very different things is even possible in a comment section on a Google website.

    1. This is what our Lord Jesus said, “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17 v 20 -21)
      Martin Luther worked hard in opposition to this prayer of our Lord Jesus. Further more he started the process of tearing up the canon of the Sacred Scriptures; he denigrated the Deuterocanons, he denigrated the Letter of James, he denigrated the Letter to the Hebrews, he sought the exclusion of the Book of the Apocalypse which our Lord Jesus revealed by his holy Angels to St. John the Evangelist.
      Seriously speaking all who willingly follow Martin Luther are like the proverbial willfully and maliciously blind leading the willfully and maliciously blind. Barring invincible ignorance and/or last minute conversions they are headed for a very unpleasant place. Martin Luther was not doing God’s work. All his main contributions to the ‘Protestant Revolt’ were pleasing to the Father of Lies.

    2. cp sho,
      You really should read church history of this period. The catalyst for the Protestant Reformation came because of the corruption of the RCC.

    3. Meyu,

      I mean reading someone who actually lived before the Reformation, talking about what the Church was like. Otherwise, you’re settling for second-hand information, relayed to you by people who think that these folks were evil. Hopefully, you wouldn’t accept that sort of gossip in any other context, so why settle for it here?



    4. Joe,
      You got me there. I guess all that I know about it is a lie because I have not read anyone directly who lived before the Reformation. If I read about what life was like before the Reformation from an historian should I assume he is lying to me?

      Are you able to read these works in their original languages?

      BTW- what makes you think a person who lived before the Reformation is telling the truth completely?

    5. Meyu,

      No need to be nasty and uncharitable. Obviously, I’m not taking the position that everything written after the Reformation is false. If you’re not going to engage the criticism seriously, don’t bother. All I’m saying is that if you bothered to fact-check some of these claims (particularly the ones that are in dispute, and the foundation of your arguments against the Church), you might learn something.

      You were the one lecturing on the necessity of reading Church history, and how this would show the “need” for the Reformation. I’m simply pressing you on your own point.

      You repeatedly make historical claims (about the Reformation-era Church, the Reformers, the Inquisition, the beliefs of the early Christians, etc.). I’m just trying to determine the basis on which you’re making these claims. It seems like you’re not bothering to read any of the people that you’re speaking ill of, but just dogmatically accepting the word of their opponents.



    6. Joe,
      I have no intention of being nasty or uncharitable to anyone. I am familiar with church history which includes the inquisitions. Now, if I have written anything about that that is false then please correct me with some facts. Stuff I have read and listened to are by historians or scholars.

      Do you think the inquisitions was something that was good and of Christ?

    7. Meyu,

      You’re still being awfully evasive about your sources. I guess I’m confused as to why you bother with this approach: you make massive, sweeping, unnuanced claims, and generally refuse to substantiate them with evidence. Here, you’re saying we need to read Church history to see that you’re right, but you won’t name anyone that you’ve read (either from the time period, or from a later period). Who do you think is going to be persuaded by this approach? Forgive my bluntness, but do you imagine that there’s someone reading who is going: “Oh, some anonymous guy on the Internet claims that some unnamed source told him the Catholic Church did some vague bad stuff. I guess I’ll abandon the Church”?

      As for the Inquisition, I’ve already given you quite a bit of background:

      “The myth of the Inquisition and the reality are vastly different things. Long story short: the ruling authority of secular leaders throughout Europe was founded upon the idea that they derive their authority from God, as Romans 13:1 says. As a result, heresy was a secular capital crime, since it denied the foundation of the secular authority.

      Certain rulers began using these anti-heresy laws to wipe out their enemies (just as anti-blasphemy laws are currently being misused in Islamic countries). The Church stepped in to limit the abuses caused by these accusations, by holding formal investigations to determine that the accused were actually guilty.

      These were rougher times, and it’s easy to pass judgment on them from cozy 21st century America. And admittedly, some Inquisitors acted overzealously, and even evilly. But the reality is that the Inquisitions, on the whole, were very good.

      The Inquisition served as a relatively sophisticated criminal justice system. As with any criminal justice system, including our own, abuses occurred. But that no more justifies condemning the entire Inquisition than police abuses or capital punishment justify abolishing the entire American criminal justice system.”

      You presented an ignorant and unnuanced claim that the Inquisition was evil, because it killed people. Technically, this claim isn’t even true, since the Inquisition itself didn’t kill anybody. The most severe punishment, relaxation, just turned the accused over to the secular authority – the secular authorities were the ones who did all of the killing; the Inquisition’s primary effect was limiting the number of people killed. I’ve tried to correct your view by providing historical context. You’ve simply brushed that context off, and remade the same initial claims. It doesn’t seem like you’re really wanting a serious conversation. Am I wrong?



    8. Joe,
      You make it sound like the inquisitions were no big deal. Jesus never taught that the church was to use violence nor to be in partnership with secular authorities. Many people were tortured and killed. “One historian estimated that over the course of its history the Spanish Inquisition tried a total of 341,021 people, of whom at least 10 percent (31,912) were executed.” http://www.gotquestions.org/inquisitions.html

    9. Meyu,

      Imagine if I argued against torture by saying that hundreds of thousands of people were tortured in Guantanamo Bay. Would that be a sound argument against torture? Certainly, there were some people who were tortured, but by using wildly-inflated statistics, I’d be undermining my own case. That’s what you’re doing here.

      You seem to think that the Inquisitions were some sort of reign of terror, but that’s far from the truth. There are certainly instances in which there were overzealous and perhaps even bloodthirsty inquisitors, but the overall history of the Inquisitions is one of the Church restraining the hand of the secular state, and saving untold lives. (At the time, Spain was cracking down very hard on heretics, at least partly because of the religious and political civil war that broke out in neighboring France when the Cathar heresy took hold).

      As for the numbers you cite, the first clue that your source isn’t the most reliable is that “the Spanish Inquisition tried a total of 341,021 people, of whom at least 10 percent (31,912) were executed.” If it can’t even get basic math right (like thinking that 31,912 is “at least 10 percent” of 341,021), it’s maybe not the source to lean on. The second clue that your source isn’t the most reliable is that it’s GotQuestions, a site that I’ve taken to task for false or misleading information several times. In an earlier post, I passed on some correspondence with the folks running the site in which they admitted, “We want to prejudice people against the Catholic Church.” The third reason to be skeptical is because once again you’ve gone with an anti-Catholic Protestant source rather than anything sympathetic or objective. Of course you’re going to get inflated numbers. As they admit, this is about stirring up prejudice, not getting to the truth of the matter.

      So let’s talk about the numbers. They say “one historian,” but don’t mention who that historian was, or why his numbers are suspect. The historian was a priest, Juan Antonio Llorente, who sided with Napoleon Bonaparte against the Church. He was engaged in a mission to try to get the Church in Spain to submit to the viciously anti-Catholic (and generally anti-religious) Napoleon, and his history of the Inquisitions is far from impartial. Seriously, even Wikipedia acknowledges that modern historians don’t accept his numbers, and that the actual numbers are probably dramatically lower. Actually, they have a decent article explaining how our knowledge of the Inquisitions has improved, which estimates about 2,000 killed in Spain and 1250 killed in Italy, estimates based upon the work the historians Henry Kamen and Andrea Del Col. If those estimates hold, your numbers are grossly exaggerated: about ten times the real numbers.

      Now, 3,250 people dying is still unfortunate, and even though it happened at the hands of the secular state (a fact that you still have failed to acknowledge, despite it being brought to your attention three times now), there were certainly Catholics who played a complicit and even encouraging role. That said, these deaths were spread out over two countries and over the course of several centuries. In all, the annual death penalty rate was about what Texas’ is today. Too high, but hardly the reign of terror that you’re imagining.



    10. “Jesus never taught that the church was to use violence nor to be in partnership with secular authorities.”

      Luke 22:36; John 2:15- defense and offense are two different things
      Mark 12:17- not sure exactly where you see Jesus saying or acting in such a manner as people were not to cooperate with authorities.

      You may want to flesh out what you mean by your statement. It’s too vague to say that Jesus never taught to use violence of any kind or not to partner with any secular authority.

    11. From GotQuestions- “We are Christian, Protestant, conservative, evangelical, fundamental, and non-denominational.”

      Their Statement of Faith also explains that they believe in OSAS.

      I have found that often times groups like these do not understand Catholic teachings. I saddens me to here from Joe that they also don’t care to and would rather misrepresent a fellow Christian’s beliefs. Personally, I hope never to misrepresent any other denominations beliefs. If I do so, it is from a place of ignorance and not intentionally trying to misrepresent. Unfortunately this has not been the case with some dialogues I have had whereas even after I pointed to evidence to the contrary the person basically plugged up their ears and instead kept insisting that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I pray I don’t do that. I try and hold that a person believes sincerely what they believe.

    12. That’s because he wasn’t.
      A Gnostic is an adherent to the system of beliefs centered around the belief Aeons, Gods that are higher than the demiurge who was created by the lowest Aeon, Sophia.
      Sophia was rescued by two higher Aeons which cured her of her rebellion with “Sexual Healin'” yes one of them was Jesus, and then that Jesus saved us all from the Demiurge who was considered an idiot god, because he thought he was the only one.
      Gnosticism believed that Christ was a Spirit being because things that are physical are evil any God there could be would not take on human flesh.

      To suggest that Luther was a Polytheistic-Antinomian is not only falsified by everything that Luther ever wrote in his life, but to suggest he adhered to an already dead sect of Christianity in a country it wasn’t even present in (although centuries before Luther Arius’ teachings were common in Germany) is ridiculous.

      Just to be sure I’m not mistaken, to call Luther a Gnostic just because it’s a hot buzzword that stirs up feelings and emotions is transparently petty.

      Now the ideas Luther adhered to May have been borrowed from Hermeticism, but Hermeticism was not condemned by anyone at that time and Augustine himself believed Trismegestus to be a great sage.
      Some of his ideas may have come from the Rosicrucians, and his ideas on the mass as sacramental union with Christ likely came from the Humanist scholar Hoer, who’s ideas were later expounded by Zwingli, but Gnosticism?

      Most people who talk about it can’t even define it.
      I’d direct you to a Lecture series responding to Dan Brown’s work in the Da Vinci code by Michael S. Heiser on the subject of Gnosticism as a primer.
      And for the record, I grew up with a Swedenborgian father. There are truly weirder things that man can believe.

  18. Where in scripture do we see a mass (where a priest prays over the bread and wine and they are said to be literally the body and blood of Christ) in scripture? Please show me that passage.

    1. Mathew 26! Don’t forget, Jesus is the high priest. Now when are you going to provide me with some historical evidence of early Christian believers who were not participating in the Mass? The reason I ask for this evidence is due to the fact that you think scripture is so clear that there wouldn’t be a need for a priesthood but you need a preisthood to have a Mass. If scripture is so clear than those closest in time to the actual teachings of the Apostles should have come to your interpretation of scripture. Of course, maybe they just kep everyone dumb and ignorant for 1,400 years and only after scripture was available for the masses did everyone start to realize the Mass and the priesthood was unnecessary. Good luck with that argument but I at least want you to offer an explanation for why your beliefs have no historical support.

    2. Matthew 26 is not a mass. Where do we see anyone else officiating over a worship service in the NT? Where do we see a priest or apostle praying over the bread and wine and changing it literally into Christ?

    3. meyu –

      Where does scripture assert that all things must be specifically stated in scripture in order to be Apostolic? Please give me a verse. Once again you’re imposing a standard upon scripture that must reject many of the same concepts that you believe such as sola scriptura, the Trinity, etc. Once you reject the concept of holy tradition you box yourself in and have to reject creeds and most things that allow scripture to make sense. Why? Because scripture was never written to be a cook book for Christianity. Oral tradition is how teaching was communicated in early times and most people were illiterate. You seem to think that God didn’t care about the illiterate and that oral tradition was meaningless.

  19. Please show me one passage that references the Trinity? You are playing games and avoiding history. Search Joe’s website for how to properly interpret the Mass from scripture. Please tell us when the Church went apostate? What year?

    1. Matthew 28:19.

      The corruption of the church was gradual over the centuries. We can see some deviations from Scripture from the formation of the papacy to praying to the dead. Even a celibate leadership is a deviation from what the apostles taught.

    2. meyu –

      You really don’t understand Catholic dogma if you are bringing up the celibate priesthood. The preist who confirmed me was married and had kids!!!! It is a tradition that priests be celibate and not married and it could be changed. It isn’t dogma. Furthermore, if you get to pick and choose what books are in the Bible then you can pick and choose what isn’t in the Bible! This is one of the reasons why Protestants changed the Bible itself depsite 1,500+/- years of Christians using an OT that contained the Deuterocannon. Basing the books of the OT upon the books used by anti-Christians Jews sects is not the way to determine scripture.

  20. Elisabeth- I hope you don’t mind if I start another thread to answer your questions.

    Doctrine doesn’t change. Luther desired to change it, but he didn’t have the authority to do so. The only being who can has a higher pay grade than the pope. So anyone who thinks they can dictate to God is getting too friendly with the devil.

    Now I can hear people getting a bit confused about what I typed so let me clarify. The Church has the authority to define or clarify doctrine. Some issues that seemed straight forward for centuries are later questioned. These issues were later clarified or defined by councils and popes. That doesn’t mean we didn’t have these doctrines prior. Furthermore there is a difference between doctrines and disciples. Luther questioned both. He was correct in his assessment about how the indulgences were being used (that is to say how they were sold), but he was incorrect when he desired to abolish the sacrament of reconciliation.

    As for God’s knowledge of Luther…I’m not privy to any conversations that took place between God and Luther. I can’t surmise the mind of God so I’ll hazard to guess that God would have preferred that Luther to stay and actually reform. I do know that the Bible repeatedly speaks against division and heresy. Luther, like any other human being, was given free will. He had choices. He chose poorly (to quote an Indian Jones movie). God uses our poor choices for good, and He certainly knows when we will make the poor choice. But he doesn’t will us to make the poor choices. Poor choices are just the natural consequence of free will (or else it wouldn’t be free).

    Heresy is defined as adherence to a religious opinion contrary to religious dogma. It has a negative connotation, but it’s not meant to be a barb one throws around like calling people names. People these days prefer to use terms like “cafeteria Catholic” which is basically the same thing.

  21. Indulgences were never authorized to be sold as forgiveness of future sins. The word “indulgence” in English creates a negative connotation. The fact some priests abused this doctrine is not grounds to throw out everything of the RCC. An indulgence is punishment in the form a financial loss as part of penance. The fact that indulgences have been used doesn’t mean it is “dogma” and therefore it can be changed. Anyone who takes some effort to investigate this alleged controversy will quickly realize that Rome never sold forgiveness of future sins. Now could Rome have acted quicker? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean Rome should be rejected and reconstituted.

  22. Meyu writes “There was no office of priest in the NT.”
    No. There is priesthood in the NT in many places.e.g. “We are a royal priesthood a holy nation, a people set apart” (cf 1 Pete 2 v 9)
    ” For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

    15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchiz′edek, 16 who has become a priest, not according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him,

    “Thou art a priest for ever,
    after the order of Melchiz′edek……………….. And it was not without an oath. 21 Those who formerly became priests took their office without an oath, but this one was addressed with an oath,

    “The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind,
    ‘Thou art a priest for ever.’”

    22 This makes Jesus the surety of a better covenant.” (cf Hebrews 7 15-22)
    Our Lord Jesus was and is a priest. Can we argue with the fact that the Apostles and their successors are also priests of the order of King Melchizedek?

    1. No. It is not written that that the apostles are said to be “priests of the order of King Melchizedek”. Only Jesus is the Great High Priest.

      All believers are said to be of a “royal priesthood”. In those passages that describe church offices (I Tim 3) there is no mention of a priest. No mention of a supreme leader-bishop i.e. pope either.

    2. Where is it written what should be the NT? Where is it written than the Trinity is a proper explanation of God? Where is Sola Scriputre ever mentioned in the OT or NT? You keep making up “recipe” like standards for the faith and yet I don’t see you applying them to your own set of beliefs. Scripture was never intended to be a receipe for the faith. In fact, scripture isn’t even self authenticating.

    3. If its not taught in the NT then its not apostolic nor scriptural. The Trinity can be derived from Scripture and nowhere else because it is in Scripture alone where God has revealed His nature to us. You would never discern the Trinity from the natural world.

      Define Sola Scriptura.

      Scripture is intended to be the foundation of our beliefs and doctrines. Why do you think the apostles wrote them?

    4. meyu –

      If everything apostolic and scriptural must be in scripture, am I allowed to reject your statement about scripture since it is not found in scripture? You keep imposing a standard upon scripture that isn’t found in scripture. Nowhere is scripture self authenticating and nowhere does it state that ALL apostolic teaching is limited to scripture.

    5. Meyu writes ‘All believers are said to be of a “royal priesthood”‘. You are right. All believers belong to the royal priesthood which means all Christians are priests. We all exercise the priesthood of serving God on the behalf of the people. We intercede with God as priests on the behalf of others. The only difference lies in the level of exercise this priesthood depending on our leadership position in the Church. However the best priests (lay or clergy) are those closest to God and therefore only Him knows them.

  23. meyu –

    When are you going to briefly tell us how and why Christianity was wrong for 1,400 years with its sacerdotal form of worship? Was everyone ignorant of your interpreation of scripture? One big conspiracy to keep the “priesthood” alive? You keep making wild claims about the priesthood and/or mass not being in scripture, we show you how it is in scripture and then you claim it’s not in scripture. Well let’s assume it’s not in scripture, how was everyone in history so wrong? Was the church apostate right out of the gate? The historical evidence overwhelming points to a sacerdotal form of worship for 1,400 years with a priest. Please answer this question. We answer yours and you just don’t like our answers and/or our interpretations.

    1. I already pointed out that there is no office of priest in the NT church. We don’t see the apostles teaching that “”efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacrament) in the NT.

      His is what a church historian wrote on the meaning of the Lord’s supper:
      “Schaff provides some perspective:
      “The doctrine concerning the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, not coming into special discussion, remained indefinite and obscure [during the period from 100-325 AD]. The ancient church made more account of the worthy participation of the ordinance than of the logical apprehension of it. She looked upon it as the holiest mystery of Christian worship, and accordingly, celebrated it with the deepest devotion, without inquiring into the mode of Christ’s presence, nor into the relation of the sensible signs to his flesh and blood. It is unhistorical to carry any of the later theories back into this age; although it has been done frequently in the apologetic and polemic discussion of this subject.”
      Philip Schaff’s History of the Church – Passages on the Eucharist

    2. meyu –

      Let’s assume you are correct, why was everyone wrong for 1,400 years? Please explain why you are correct and everyone else was wrong for 1,400 years. Do you have some superior exegesis? Rome kept people ignorant of the Word of God? Big conspiracy?

      BTW – your quote by “Schaff” about the Mass is way off base. The Didache (70 AD +/-) itself proves this person wrong let alone the countless articles and quotes on this site of early Church Fathers from 100-325 AD espousing upon the Mass being the actual flesh and blood of Christ. Why do you think that Christians were called “canibals” by the Romans? Because they told the Roman people they were eathing the actual flesh and blood of Christ and it certainly wasn’t the result of some ceremony.

    1. Church history is complex. So is the interpretation of Scripture over the centuries. Christians would be cannibals is bread and wine were literally the body of Christ. We know this charge is false because no knowledgeable Christian would say this because that is not what Christ meant.

      Where and when did the church officially define what the Lord’s supper means in the first 3 centuries?

  24. meyu –

    Let’s assume nobody could figure anything out properly from 100-325 AD (which is false BTW). Why is it that Christianity from 326 AD to 1,500 AD is centered around the Mass and structured with a priesthood? If you think it isn’t centered around the Mass from this time period please tell me what group of believers (names, dates, etc) did not worship in this manner. You keep saying you’re correct and if your position is true then we must see it in history or there’s a reason we don’t see your position playing out in history.

    1. Please answer “Where and when did the church officially define what the Lord’s supper means in the first 3 centuries?”

      Once we know the answer to that it will help to determine if all the churches believed the Lord’s supper is the same as what the RCC says.

    2. meyu –

      Assume nobody knows anything from 100-325 AD and there was no definitive declaration (all you need to do is look at Joe’s articles on this website if you truly want to know how history viewed the Mass and whether there was a formal declaration or not really isn’t relevant). So what happened in history from 326 AD – 1,500 AD? What Christians were celebrating the Mass/Lord’s Supper who did not believe the Mass/Lord’s Supper did NOT involve eating the actual flesh and blood of Christ? Please name this group of believers along with dates. I can’t find any Christian believers from 326 AD – 1,500 AD who thought the Mass/Lord’s Supper did NOT involve the actual flesh and blood of Christ.

      You don’t need to know when it was defined, only how it was practiced and understood. Where are there “churches” celebrating the Mass/Lord’s Supper who did not have a priest and did not believe the Mass/Lord’s Supper was the actual flesh and blood of Christ?

      You seem to think that there were churches scattered across history who worshipped like Protestants without a priesthood, but I can’t find them in history and I have yet to have a Protestant name such group of people.

    3. cwdlaw223,
      We can’t assume anything. Notice what the church historian Philip Schaff says: “The doctrine concerning the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, not coming into special discussion, remained indefinite and obscure [during the period from 100-325 AD]……..It is unhistorical to carry any of the later theories back into this age; although it has been done frequently in the apologetic and polemic discussion of this subject.”

      Church fathers also had different views of it.

      What this means is that there was a definite universal agreement on the meaning of the Lord’s supper in the 1st 3 centuries.

    4. meyu –

      I agree with you there was universal agreement in the first three centuries (and beyond)!!! About time you came around.

      Why are you using a “church historian” who is proven wrong by the writings of the early church fathers that you can read for yourself? He claims the doctrine of the Mass is unhistorical, indefinite and/or obscure and yet I can give you quote after quote of early Church Fathers who lived in this disputed era who state specifically their belief about the Mass. The Church Fathers did NOT have different views of the Mass. The Church Fathers were unanimous about the Mass all during the disputed time period. Even if these Church Fathers were wrong or it wasn’t unanimous, you still haven’t explained why 325 AD to 1,500 AD there was a priesthood. Please explain why unless you now admit there was agreement. The Protestant theory of confused history might make sense if there was a group or sect of people from 325 AD to 1,500 AD who rejected the priesthood and did not view the Mass as the actual flesh and blood of Christ. But history does not have such evidence just as it doesn’t have evidence of Jews being in North America according to Joseph Smith. Christianity is rational and historical.

    5. meyu –

      Why can’t I find someone who remotely held your beliefs about scripture from 100 AD to 1,500 AD? Were these people silent and/or hidden? Everyone was ignorant? The Catholic Church killed off dissenters to keep their power? Maybe nobody interpreted scripture like you do because it wasn’t true.

  25. meyu –

    Read this article: http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2010/11/early-church-fathers-on-eucharist.html

    Transubstantion wasn’t formally defined until the 12th Century but that doesn’t mean the Church didn’t believe it. Rather, that word was used as a way to communicate the idea about the Mass. I believe the Didache is the earliest writing we have (it pre-dated some NT scripture I believe) and it references the liturgy of the Mass.

    Joe –

    Do you have a date that you could share with meyu?

  26. Spartacus –

    He finally agreed that there was universal agreement in the first three centuries in his post on 2/10 at 4:44 PM. However, he didn’t indicate the contents of the actual agreement. I’ll take that as a start since history is very clear that the early Church believed regarding the Mass for the first three centuries. They thought the bread and wine were the actual flesh and blood of Christ.

    1. I forgot to add the word “not”. The church historian Schaff said that there was no defined meaning of the Lord’s supper. Since that is the case, you don’t have a mass universally being practiced in the first 3 centuries.

    2. Meyu,

      Philip Schaff is a 19th century Anglican and a historian. For the most part, he’s a very good historian, but he’s not the world’s greatest theologian. As an Anglican, his position is that the Eucharist may or may not literally be Christ’s Body and Blood (which disagrees with your own position, I believe?), and he’s projecting this ambiguous opinion into the past.

      Have you actually read Schaff on this subject? Or where did you pull this quote? For that matter, have you actually read any of the people that Schaff is referring to?

      I have to admit that I’m more than a little amused by a certain irony: Protestants often complain that Catholics had to trust the Church on what the Bible said, instead of reading it for themselves (this is something of a skewed view of history, but no matter). Yet when it comes to the Church Fathers, many of these same people (including yourself) seem to absolutely refuse to read the Church Fathers, insisting on relying upon the quasi-magisterial authority of Protestant “experts.” You’re seemingly content to let some guy you know nothing about (Schaff in this case, GotQuestions elsewhere, etc.) tell you what to believe, without even checking to see if it’s true. In the link mentioned above, I quote the early Fathers directly, so you can see for yourself: yes, they believed in the Real Presence. If you can find some early Church Fathers who didn’t, let me know! I’d love to hear who they are, rather than you copy-pasting someone else’s decontextualized account of what Schaff said in the 19th century. As Luther constantly urged, let’s get back to the sources!



  27. Joe,
    This a blog and not the place (at least for me) that I’m going write long responses. If you think Scaff is wrong then give some counter facts that show that.

    Have you read the over 30 volumes of the church fathers? Also, who says the church fathers speak for the entire church on a given issue?

    I’ll see if there are some fathers have a different view.

  28. Meyu,

    Let’s be serious. I’m claiming that the Church Fathers believed in the Real Presence, and provided several clear examples that prove this. You’re claiming that not all of them did, and then demanding that I disprove you, by reading through “over 30 volumes of the church fathers.” Of course, even if I showed you each and every one, you’d still claim that you were right, since “who says the church fathers speak for the entire church on a given issue”?

    If the Church Fathers are unanimous on a subject, then the only reasonable conclusion is that this is what the early Church believed. How can you seriously contest this?

    What would it take to get you to admit that you’re wrong on this, or any issue? If I could successfully show you that all of the Fathers believed in the Real Presence, would that matter to you at all?



    1. Joe,
      It seems you have not read all the fathers. Is that correct?

      My question about the fathers speaking for the entire church is a problem for those who want to use them as support. Councils can speak for the church but who says a father does?

      If you could show that all the fathers believed in the real presence with explicit statements in context then that would show all did at the time they wrote.

    2. Meyu,

      It’s true, I haven’t read every word every Church Father wrote throughout those centuries. I have shown several individuals (including all of the most prominent Fathers of each of the first four centuries) who clearly affirmed the Real Presence. If you claim that there was some other body within orthodox Christianity that denied the Real Presence, the burden is on you to find such a person. Good luck.



    3. Joe,
      It looks like luck is on my side 🙂

      “Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, “This is my body,” that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. (Tertullian, Against Marcion, 4.)

      Bread and wine are offered, being the figure of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. They who participate in this visible bread eat, spiritually, the flesh of the Lord. (Macarius, Homily xxvii.)

      For He, we know, who spoke of his natural body as corn and bread, and, again, called Himself a vine, dignified the visible symbols by the appellation of the body and blood, not because He had changed their nature, but because to their nature He had added grace. (Theodoret, Diologue I, Eranistes and Orthodoxus.)

      For the Lord did not hesitate to say: “This is My Body”, when He wanted to give a sign of His body. (Augustine, Against Adimant.)

      He admitted him to the Supper in which He committed and delivered to His disciples the figure of His Body and Blood. (Augustine, on Psalm 3.)

      We have received a memorial of this offering which we celebrate on a table by means of symbols of His Body and saving Blood according to the laws of the new covenant. (Eusebius of Caesarea, Demonstratio Evangelica.)”

    4. Meyu- None of what you quote specifies that it was not Jesus. In fact Joe quotes Tertullian to make his case and you quote him as essentially saying that you cant have the figure aka bread and wine without a body and making the bread and wine Jesus body. If that doesnt point to transubstantiation I dont know what is.

      But just to be clear Catholics believe that the bread and wine retain their properties, natures, figures but also become Christ’s flesh. Which is what everyone you quoted also said.

    5. Deltaflute,
      Those quotes do not support transubstantiation i.e. “the Council of Trent defined the Real Presence to be such as to include with Christ’s Body and His Soul and Divinity as well.” http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05573a.htm

      Take the last quote–“We have received a memorial of this offering which we celebrate on a table by means of symbols of His Body and saving Blood according to the laws of the new covenant. (Eusebius of Caesarea, Demonstratio Evangelica.)” This is not transubstantiation by any stretch.

    6. Meyu,

      Those quotes are perfect! They show exactly why I’ve been pressing you to actually read the Fathers instead of blindly taking the word of other Protestants (or in this case, plagarizing their lists without attribution). All of them affirm that the bread and wine used in the Eucharist are symbolic, which we affirm. Three of the five authors you quoted – Augustine, Eusebius, and Tertullian – were actually authors I had originally quoted, since they elsewhere are quite explicit in their affirmation of the Real Presence.

      My favorite was “your” (or someone’s) use of Tertullian’s Against Marcion, since that sentence was lifted from a lengthy passage describing how Marcion (the Gnostic heretic that the tract was written against) can’t affirm the Real Presence or the Atonement of Christ because he denied that Christ had a real Body.

      I went ahead and wrote a full post putting the matter to rest. No, Tertullian never denied the Real Presence. Rather, he affirmed it (including in the chapter that “you” are quoting from). And this is why you need to actually read the Fathers.



      P.S. Want to guess who wrote this?

      “While then the better, the great and worthy and divine sacrifice was not yet available for men, it was necessary for them by the offering of animals to pay a ransom for their own life, and this was fitly a life that represented their own nature. Thus did the holy men of old, anticipating by the Holy Spirit that a holy victim, dear to God and great, would one day come for men, as the offering for the sins of the world, believing that as prophets they must perform in symbol his sacrifice, and shew forth in type what was yet to be. But when that which was perfect was come, in accordance with the predictions of the prophets, the former sacrifices ceased at once because of the better and true Sacrifice.


      Since then according to the witness of the prophets the great and precious ransom has been found for Jews and Greeks alike, the propitiation for the whole world, the life given for the life of all men, the pure offering for every stain and sin, the Lamb of God, the holy sheep dear to God, the Lamb that was foretold, by Whose inspired and mystic teaching all we Gentiles have procured the forgiveness of our former sins, and such Jews as hope in Him are freed from the curse of Moses, daily celebrating His memorial, the remembrance of His Body and Blood, and are admitted to a greater sacrifice than that of the ancient law, we do not reckon it right to fall back upon the first beggarly elements, which are symbols and likenesses but do not contain the truth itself.”

      It’s Eusebius, who you told Deltaflute denied the Real Presence. I describe the background to the passage here, or you can find the primary source here.

  29. meyu –

    Why don’t you show us someone in history from 100 AD – 500 AD who believed like you do when it comes to the Mass? Only after the Reformation did history allegedly become confusing. Just give us a crumb of history to support your views. Deep down you know if there is no history to support your position it means you are either wrong or everyone else was wrong. Both can’t be correct.

  30. Funny how one word can change the entire meaning of communication. Just as the word alone was never after the word faith in Romans, meyu’s failure to include the word not changed his post above!!!

    1. cwdlaw223
      The Roman Catholic writer Joseph A. Fitzmyer points out that Luther was not the only one to translate Romans 3:28 with the word “alone.”

      At 3:28 Luther introduced the adv. “only” into his translation of Romans (1522), “alleyn durch den Glauben” (WAusg 7.38); cf. Aus der Bibel 1546, “alleine durch den Glauben” (WAusg, DB 7.39); also 7.3-27 (Pref. to the Epistle). See further his Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen, of 8 Sept. 1530 (WAusg 30.2 [1909], 627-49; “On Translating: An Open Letter” [LuthW 35.175-202]). Although “alleyn/alleine” finds no corresponding adverb in the Greek text, two of the points that Luther made in his defense of the added adverb were that it was demanded by the context and that sola was used in the theological tradition before him.

      Robert Bellarmine listed eight earlier authors who used sola (Disputatio de controversiis: De justificatione 1.25 [Naples: G. Giuliano, 1856], 4.501-3):

      Origen, Commentarius in Ep. ad Romanos, cap. 3 (PG 14.952).

      Hilary, Commentarius in Matthaeum 8:6 (PL 9.961).

      Basil, Hom. de humilitate 20.3 (PG 31.529C).

      Ambrosiaster, In Ep. ad Romanos 3.24 (CSEL 81.1.119): “sola fide justificati sunt dono Dei,” through faith alone they have been justified by a gift of God; 4.5 (CSEL 81.1.130).

      John Chrysostom, Hom. in Ep. ad Titum 3.3 (PG 62.679 [not in Greek text]).

      Cyril of Alexandria, In Joannis Evangelium 10.15.7 (PG 74.368 [but alludes to Jas 2:19 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ]).

      Bernard, In Canticum serm. 22.8 (PL 183.881): “solam justificatur per fidem,” is justified by faith alone.

      Theophylact, Expositio in ep. ad Galatas 3.12-13 (PG 124.988).

      To these eight Lyonnet added two others (Quaestiones, 114-18):

      Theodoret, Affectionum curatio 7 (PG 93.100; ed. J. Raeder [Teubner], 189.20-24).

      Thomas Aquinas, Expositio in Ep. I ad Timotheum cap. 1, lect. 3 (Parma ed., 13.588): “Non est ergo in eis [moralibus et caeremonialibus legis] spes iustificationis, sed in sola fide, Rom. 3:28 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] : Arbitramur justificari hominem per fidem, sine operibus legis” (Therefore the hope of justification is not found in them [the moral and ceremonial requirements of the law], but in faith alone, Rom 3:28 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] : We consider a human being to be justified by faith, without the works of the law). Cf. In ep. ad Romanos 4.1 (Parma ed., 13.42a): “reputabitur fides eius, scilicet sola sine operibus exterioribus, ad iustitiam”; In ep. ad Galatas 2.4 (Parma ed., 13.397b): “solum ex fide Christi” [Opera 20.437, b41]).

      Even some Catholic versions of the New Testament also translated Romans 3:28 as did Luther. The Nuremberg Bible (1483), “allein durch den glauben” and the Italian Bibles of Geneva (1476) and of Venice (1538) say “per sola fede.”

      Source: Joseph A. Fitzmyer Romans, A New Translation with introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1993) 360-361.

    2. Meyu –

      So the individuals above are your evidence of people who worshiped like you in history? The problem you going to run into is the definition of the word faith. A Catholic can full believe that man is justified by faith, Hope and charity. Your definition of faith will probably end up containing Hope and charity. Which one of those above rejected the Mass? Please tell me.

    3. cwdlaw223,
      How can you have a mass for the entire church in the 1st 3 centuries when the nature of the Lord’s supper was not officially defined and various people had different opinions about its meaning? This is what you need to deal with because not everyone agreed.

    4. meyu –

      How do you explain Saint Aquinas claiming “faith alone” and dying a Roman Catholic? The context of his writings, as well as Augustine, is often overlooked.

    5. How can you not have a Mass when there was a priesthood in the New Testament and beyond!!! It didn’t go away and it was necessary for a Mass. Christianity carried over a lot of Jewish like practices. Protestants have very little, if any Jewish like practices and.or affirm the supernatural or metaphysical on this earth. Until your mind is willing to accept the supernatural and metaphysical you will never understand Catholic thought. Post modern man often denies the supernatural and/or metaphysical but fails to realize that scientism does not work without the supernatural and.or metaphysical behind it.

    6. meyu –

      The Trinity took much longer to be understood than the Mass and Arianism was the biggest heresy the Church ever faced. The deposit of faith happened at once, but it took time for such knowledge to be refined.

    7. cwdlaw223,
      There is no office of priest in the NT. Where the offices of the church are explained in the NT there is no mention of a priest nor a supreme bishop i.e. pope.

      Did Augustine believe that Mary was without sin, assumed into heaven, the bishop was the supreme leader of the church and infallible, subjection to the pope is necessary for salvation, prayed the rosary etc? These and other doctrines are marks of a RC.

    8. Meyu,

      The problem with the faith alone stuff you pulled is that it commits the word-concept fallacy. Because someone uses the phrase “faith alone” it does not necessitate “extra nos imputation”. Pope Benedict even endorsed “faith alone” – properly understood (faith formed in love). I mean, it’s absolutely absurd to think Aquinas believed in faith alone as Protestants do – it would make him incoherent. Same with the other fathers cited there (that eastern fathers, such strong voices of theosis, are used is equally absurd) – they hold other beliefs that contradict forensic justification – although those same beliefs are quite consistent with infused righteousness. It is generally best to interpret writers as being consistent unless strong evidence shows them being inconsistent – that’s what we normally do with everyone we interpret.

    9. Cletus Van Damme,
      I don’t believe in “faith alone” either. Rather Protestants believe in Christ alone, by faith alone for salvation. It is the “object” of faith that matters and not mere faith.

  31. meyu –

    A hard saying doesn’t occur from a figurative statement. Let’s get into the quality of the evidence there meyu! The fact that some might (I stress might) have viewed the Mass as figurative does not change the overwhelming evidence in history. Furthermore, you have Church Fathers who were directly taught by the Apostles, or one person removed, who state that the Mass was the physical flesh and blood of Christ. The fact that a few Church Fathers may not have agreed the bread and wine turned into the physical flesh and blood of Christ does not mean that Church doctrine was wrong. Where are these people asserting to get rid of the priesthood? You have to deal with that. And more importantly, if there was utter confusion, then you have to deal with the fact that from 300 AD – 1,500 AD the Christian world overwhelmingly thought the Mass was the flesh and blood of Christ. Then you have to deal with what is the true Church and did Christ fail with his Church. If Christ failed with Rome then he is a liar and false God. Why do I say this? Because Christ would have lied about protecting his Church. He wasn’t protecting the Church to stop the bad behavior of man while in office. Rather, he was protecting the Church from doctrinal error. In your mind, the doctrine was debatable for 300 years, then the Church was incorrectly sacerdotal for another 1,200 years and then it go it right. That is an utter and complete failure in my mind of Christ protecting his Church from error.

    Lastly, you still don’t have a proto-protestant in history that supports your worldview. Saint Augustine and Saint Aquinas died Roman Catholics. These men were Titans of the faith who are often misquoted by Protestants as “historical” support for their position because they have nobody to use in history.

  32. Joe said…”In contrast, the Catholic Church has believed and taught the same things for two thousand years. Sometimes, She has to spell out something new, but She never contradicts and reverses Herself.”

    Joe, can you please harmonize the pre-VII teaching on the definition of the Body of Christ and those separated from it being “outside the Church” with today’s teaching on the “Church of Christ” subsisting in the Catholic Church but being separate and more encompassing. The leaders in the Church have clearly redefined the “Church of Christ” to include those that have separated themselves from Her in order to open the door to false ecumenism. This is the reason why Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI have a history of counseling people to not convert to Catholicism (I am sure you are aware of these instances.) and it does not even concern most Catholics.

    And while you are at it, explain to me how today’s Jewish faith can be under a perpetual covenant with God if they reject the New Covenant in which they would gain salvation? Again, popes of our day have said in word and writing that the Jews are under a perpetual covenant with God since they are “children of Abraham” yet we know from Scripture that children of Abraham would do as Abraham, meaning accept Christ since the Old points to the New and the Old has been done away with. They are clearly not children of Abraham. The Church has held this position up to VII. And let’s just make clear that Ancient Judaism seized to exist as it was when Christ’s mission was complete or, at the latest, 70 AD. It is now called Catholicism. Today’s Judaism is rabbinical and was started to be a direct response to Christianity and to tear it down. There is no other covenant in which one can be saved, only thru Christ, Whom the Jewish faith reject. This is another contradiction and we know that abrogation is not a policy when it comes to faith and morals.

    1. Joe, I will read it. I just read your last post and it was good. I totally agree with what you said. The one thing I disagree with here is that you can’t redefine a word (Church of Christ) in which a doctrine is based on and then say it is only a change in emphasis or tone. This is pure Modernism. I don’t accuse you of Modernism but the tactic being part of Modernism. They retain the word, gut the meaning, and erect a new doctrine on it. This is Modernism 101. This allows one to appear orthodoxy but is really not.

  33. “It was a slow, painful process, filled with anguish and tears that eventually brought Luther to the realization that the Roman Church placed its authority and traditions above Scripture and would not change.”

    Jesus didn’t write a book – He founded a CHURCH. The CHURCH existed BEFORE the Bible as we now know it existed, and it was in fact the CHURCH which gathered together various books of Scripture and approved them AS the Bible. The first Christians didn’t even have Bibles. They did have the writings of the Old Testament, but New Testament works hadn’t even been written yet. Were those first Christians without “authority” for lack of them? Clearly, the authority of the Church that Christ founded came first. It was via that authority that the meaning of Scripture was made plain and consistent. There was one Truth, not the countless “truths” which the Reformation engendered. Scripture – oral tradition/the teachings of the Fathers – and sacred custom – were the three legs that the Church of Christ stood on. Luther threw the baby out with the bathwater and put the cart before the horse. Again, the first Christians didn’t begin to have the writings that would become the New Testament until some FIFTY YEARS after the death and resurrection of Our Lord. They HAD “authority” – in the form of the Church that Jesus founded, guided by His apostles as the first bishops.

  34. The translation you cite is said to be from Table Talk. It would be nice to have had a reference that is a little more precise: there are six volumes of TT, and no reference to them that I have seen has a table of contents.
    If the text in question is datable to 1535, it may say very little about Luther’s state of mind 18 years before, in 1517, and we have to imagine that we are in a position to follow the development of the great man’s thinking.
    The rhetoric is very enjoyable, but one wonders to what extent it reflects the convictions of the writer. One aspect of this sort of writing that has to make one question its contents is the politician’s device, used so ineffectively the former Presidential candidate John McCain (Joe the Plumber) of ‘I know of a good honest matron in Wittenberg who said . . .’

  35. Having just read the account of Eck’s debate with Luther and Carlstadt, the comments on this post reflect Leipzig all over again (in tone as well as content). Nothing new has been added to the debate for 500 years. Assuming both Protestants and Catholics avow God’s sovereignty in the affairs of man, perhaps all parties involved could ponder the following: If God is sovereign, why did He allow such pain to come into the larger body of Christ in the form of the Reformation schism in the first place?

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