Protestant and other Christians

This article was published by Nick Page in Premier Christianity Magazine in October 2017. He is trying to help Protestants understand that there were problems created by the Protestant movement. He explains five big loses: 1) Loss of unity, 2) Loss of monasteries, 3) Loss of silence, 4) Loss of “doing things”, and 5) Loss of color and beauty. I think this is must reading for Catholics and Protestants.

reformbad-main_article_image

And now for the bad news: what we lost because of the Reformation

Sorry to intrude on the Reformation celebrations, but Nick Page has some not-so-great-news to share.

It’s the anniversary! Woohoo! Five hundred years since Luther published his ninety-five theses and lit the touchpaper to launch the Protestant Reformation. There are books and TV programmes and celebratory articles. There will be cards and parties and bunting!

There will be cakes in the shape of Zwingli (with a low-fat, sugar-free, extra-roughage version in the shape of Calvin). Even Playmobil have joined the party and released a figure of Luther (over 34,000 of them were sold in three days, making it the fastest selling figure in the company’s history).

The anniversary of the Reformation is clearly a cause for celebration. But it’s worth remembering that for all its undoubted benefits, the Reformation wasn’t good news for everyone. Its heroes were not entirely without flaws, nor its villains entirely without merit.

Sometimes this comes as a shock to people. Many biographies of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli et al simply repeat the myths (such as Luther throwing ink at the devil, or even, dare I say it, the famous story about Luther nailing the theses to the Wittenberg door). The darker sides of these characters are carefully Photoshopped. Luther was famously abusive to his enemies and was responsible for some vile anti

Semitic writings. Zwingli had his theological opponents drowned in the river. Leaving aside his role in the arrest and execution of the Unitarian Michael Servetus, Calvin was so unpopular within Geneva that people tried to empty their chamber pots on him as he walked beneath their windows.

All three of these Premier League reformers – and many others in the lower divisions – had a propensity to banish anyone who spoke out against them. Now, I know all the arguments: they were not alone in this behaviour, it was the culture of the time, the Catholics were just as bad, etc, but if we want to truly remember the Reformation then the best way is not merely to get all excited about the theology, but also to be honest about the dodgy goings-on. Here are five key ideas which were lost from the Church.

We lost unity

 

The Reformation destroyed the idea of a single, unified Church. True, this was already a bit of an illusion, given that the Western and Eastern churches had undergone the ‘Great Schism’ in 1054. And there had been that unfortunate business when there were two Popes. Then three

Popes for a bit. But, nevertheless, in Western Europe there was the idea of one catholic or ‘whole’ Church to which everyone could claim some sort of allegiance. But the Reformation shattered any semblance of unity. And it didn’t just split Western Christendom into ‘Catholic’ and ‘Protestant’, but into ‘Catholic’ and ‘Protestants’ – the latter encompassing many different flavors of evangelical and reformed belief.

The Reformation began an endless, fractal splintering of the Church. Because, as anyone who has ever tried to do the splits can tell you, once you start it’s very difficult to stop, and if there’s one thing we know about theology, it’s that other people always get it wrong. Even among the reformers themselves there was disunity. Luther and Zwingli hated each other….

For the rest of the “five things we lost”, click HERE.

{ 0 comments }

A friend named Philip wrote and asked me this question:
Christ is Risen. And we with him. I was talking to Evangelical friends who directed me to some historical websites about the Marburg meeting of the Protestant Reformers. You have just finished your Dr. Luther tour of Germany. It seems that the Protestants did agree on most issues, original sin, justification by faith, the sacraments. The only thing that Luther and Zwingli disagreed on was the Eucharist at the Marburg meeting 1529.
I responded:
Yes, they agreed on 15 out of 16, but on the 16th they could come to no agreement. Number 16 was a biggie, it was the Eucharist. After their disagreements and wrangling some of the Reformers left saying, “You are of a different spirit” and “You are no longer my brother!”
Marburg is an example of the chaos brought about by private interpretation of Scripture with no authority or Church to adjudicate and direct. Chaos, acrimony, schism and more schisms.
The Marburg participants had opinions about the Eucharist–everywhere from not quite Catholic to the bread and wine being completely symbolic. It demonstrated that the “Reformers” had no mechanism of authority or unity and that one issue spiraled into so many other differences and disagreements that it was not long that Luther was approving 100,000 peasants killed because they practiced his principle of “private interpretation” and disagreed with him. Calvin went off in his own direction and soon Reformed and Lutheran churches were competing. Calvin had Servetus burned at the stake in Geneva because he disagreed with him.
Marburg with the symbol of the disunity that would roar through the sects. Whereas the words, “This is My Body” had one meaning for 1500 years, shortly after the Marburg Colloquy there was a book published entitled, “Two Hundred Definitions of ‘This is My Body.’” Very soon Luther rejected 5 of the sacraments and gave the institution of marriage into the hands of the State thus taking it away from the authority of the Church. He rejected ordination, confession, marriage and last rites.
Protestants may try to put a happy face on it, but it was the first apple to fall from the tree and soon it was a rain of apples. Today’s 4,000+ sects, denominations, factions and cults show the disaster of the “Reformation” — which was really a deformation.
Here are a few quotes to confirm my points”
[N]ew sects always rise up against me, . . . we are attacked by so many sects which constantly disagree with one another – sometimes they even originate within our own ranks – . . . (Letters III, ed. and tr. Gottfried G. Krodel; to James Propst, 15 Sep. 1538; in LW, v. 50)
 Dave Armstrong, The Catholic Luther, n.d.
Luther wrote: [K]now that our friendly conference at Marburg is now at an end, and that we are in perfect union in all points except that our opponents insist that there is simply bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, and that Christ is only in it in a spiritual sense. Today the landgrave did his best to make us united, hoping that even though we disagreed yet we should hold each other as brothers and members of Christ. He worked hard for it, but we would not call them brothers or members of Christ, although we wish them well and desire to remain at peace. (To Catharine Luther, 4 Oct. 1529; in LL2)
 Dave Armstrong, The Catholic Luther, n.d.
From the Protestant Magazine Christian History, So the German and Swiss reformations continued their separate ways. Luther asserted, “One side in this controversy belongs to the Devil and is God’s enemy”—and he did not mean his party. To Luther, his opponents, like Erasmus, allowed human reason to intrude on the plain words of Scripture. They required Christians to bring something of their own to salvation. Each brought to mind exactly the struggles he found in the monastery. Therefore, Luther could see no reason to be more charitable with “the false brethren” than he was with enemies from Rome.
Zwingli, in particular, resented Luther’s condescending tone. He felt the Wittenberg reformer had treated him “like an ass.” On the other side, thirteen years after Marburg, Luther was still complaining about Ulrich Zwingli’s “Swiss dialect” and his pompous insistence on speaking Greek at every opportunity. Luther declared, “I’ve bitten into many a nut, believing it to be good, only to find it wormy. Zwingli and Erasmus are nothing but wormy nuts that taste like crap in one’s mouth!”
The bad blood between the two reformers set a pattern for Protestant non-cooperation that has lasted to today.
 Robert D. Linder, “Allies or Enemies,” Christian History Magazine-Issue 39: Martin Luther: The Later Years (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 1993).

{ 2 comments }

Steve at Wittenberg Door in Germany

Martin Luther and the Protestant “Reformation” – or rather, “the Deformation”  Just back from a trip to Martin Luther sites in Germany, Steve Ray discusses the man, his ideas, and his effect on the Church.

(PICTURE: Steve posting “500 Reasons to Be Catholic” on the Wittenberg Door in Wittenberg Germany. To watch the 2-minute video of the event, click here.

Click here to listen or download.

1.  Regarding the “reformers”, Romans 8 sounds like predestination so can Steve please give some clarification on that topic?

2.  In recent times the Pope and others honor Martin Luther? Is the Pope a heretic? How should we respond?

3.  What does it mean for the Church to be “apostolic”? How can I explain it to my Protestant friends who think they have it too?

4.  Why didn’t the Church stop Luther?

5.  The Church was corrupt at the time of the Reformation which is why Luther was able to do what he did, correct?

6.  What is the definition of a heretic? How are Protestants not heretics if they believe what Luther believed?

7.  Did the Catholic theologians of the time argue with Luther, especially defending Apostolic Succession in order to demonstrate that Luther was wrong?

{ 0 comments }

Germany Trip Summary, Comments, Farewells and Departure

September 15, 2017

After eight days of intense touring of Germany and following all the sites of Martin Luther and the “Protestant Devolution” we finally said our goodbyes, shared our comments about the trip and headed home. But the trip was not only about Martin Luther and the Protestant rebellion. We also explored and toured the life of […]

Read the full article →

Luther Defies Rome, Splits the Church at ” Diet of Worms”. Germany Day 8

September 14, 2017

Today we visited the city of Worms Germany where Martin Luther was called before the “Diet” or Tribunal of the Holy Roman Empire at the “Diet of Worms” in 1521. I know that sounds funny and kind of disgusting but a “diet” was a tribunal and it was held in the city of Worms in […]

Read the full article →

Germany 7: Protestants Argue in Marburg Castle, a Birthday Party and more

September 13, 2017

Today we visited Marburg which is a quaint and historic town with the beautiful Bavarian looking houses and buildings. No one wanted to leave. Up on the mountain was the castle of Marburg where Luther, Melanchthon, Zwingli and a large group Protestants gathered to try and hammer out the “Protestant theology.” I explain more in […]

Read the full article →

Bach Concert, Luther House and Wartburg Castle

September 12, 2017

We started the day in Eisenach Germany with Mass at the Church of St. Elizabeth. She was an amazing woman well before the time of Luther who cared for the poor in an exceptional and miraculous way. You can hear the excellent homily here (Part 1 and Part 2). Today we branched out a bit […]

Read the full article →

He said, “You know you’re going to hell, right!”

September 11, 2017

As we entered the Luther Museum in Luther’s childhood hometown of Mansfeld a group of American Lutherans were leaving. They were all excited at first to meet Americans and asked where we were from. I said we were from all across the country. He then asked what Lutheran Synod we were from and I told […]

Read the full article →

Luther’s Young Years, Monastery and Birth & Death

September 11, 2017

Eisleben: birth and baptism of Luther. Also where he preach his last sermons and died. This was also the town of St. Gertrude the Great. We has Mass at St. Gertrude’s with another fantastic homily. Mansfeld: Luther’s childhood home and church where he sang in the choir and served as an altar boy. He was […]

Read the full article →