College Notes
Church History
Lecture 21

The Reformation Period

I. World prepares for religious reform.
A. Gutenberg’s Bible -1450.
    1. People now educated in theology and philosophy.
    2. Printing press developed.
B. Britain developing into a world power (c.1588).
    1. Break from Catholicism.
    2. Protestant movement now able to exist.
3. Within these groups exist members of the true church.
4. Discovery of the New World; colonization.

II. Major Reformers of the Reformation Period.
A. John Wycliff (1320-1384).
1. Reformer within confines of the church for a while.

Walker writes in his book about the Protestant reformation:

"Wyclif attacked the mendicant friars, the system of monasticism, and eventually opposed the authority of the pope in England. He also wrote against the doctrine of transubstantiation and advocated a more simple church service according to the New Testament pattern. He taught that the scriptures are the only law of the church. Yet, he did not utterly reject the papacy, but only what he regarded as its abuse." P.299

    2. Translated the Bible into English.

Fisher writes in The Reformation:

“The greatest service which he did the English people was his translation of the Bible, and his open defense of their right to read the Scriptures in their own tongue." P. 274

    3. Foremost scholar at Oxford.
4. Believed in commandment keeping.

Neander writes in General History of the Christian Religion:

"Wycliff clearly perceived the need to restore obedience to the Ten Commandments. He never employed the characteristic devices of the later reformers in evading this apostolic doctrine. The learned historian, Neander, describes this frank approach. He states that one of Wyclif's first works as a reformer 'was a detailed expositions of the Ten Commandments in which he contrasted the immoral life prevalent among all ranks, in his time, with what these commandments require...and that it was his design to counteract a tendency which showed greater concern for the opinions of men than the law of God. But at the same time we cannot fail to perceive an inclination to adopt in whole the Old Testament form of the law, which shows itself in his applying the law of the Sabbath to the Christian observance of Sunday.'" P.200

B. John Huss (1373-1415).
1. Student at Prague.
2. Studied works of Wycliffe.
3. Tried to reform within Catholic church.

Fisher states:

"When he was appointed to investigate some of the alleged miracles of the church he ended up pronouncing them spurious and told his followers to quit looking of signs and wonders and to search the scriptures instead. At last, 'his impassioned condemnation of the iniquitous sale of indulgences called down upon him the papal excommunication." P.275

    4. Condemned to be burned at the stake at the Council of Constance in 1415.

Hurbut explains in The Story of the Christian Church:

"...unfortunately, he later agreed to appear before the Council of Constance after having received a pledge of save conduct from the emperor. He defended his teachings as in accord with scripture, but he was condemned by the council and delivered over to the civil power for execution. This method was always used so as to preserve the ‘innocence' of the Roman church in such matters. The emperor's safe conduct pledge was broken upon the Catholic principle that 'faith was not to be kept with heretics.' The cruel sentence passed upon Huss was that he was to be burned at the stake." P.143

    5. Laid the foundation for Sabbatarians.

C. *Martin Luther
1. General Information:
     a. Thought to be third greatest man ever to live, ranked with Christ and Paul
     b. Several experiences helped shape Luther’s thinking
         1). In his childhood he experienced severe discipline by authority figures

The Book Here I Stand says:

"...a recent work by Roland Bainton: 'Luther is reported to have said -- My mother caned me for stealing a nut, until the blood came. Such strict discipline drove me to the monastery, although she meant it well.... My father once whipped me so that I ran away and felt ugly toward him until he was at pains to win me back. (At school) I was caned in a single morning fifteen times for nothing at all. I was required to decline and conjugate and hadn't learned my lesson.'" P. 17

      2. Luther was very moody

Bainton writes in Here I Stand:

"There is just one respect in which Luther appears to have been different from other youths of his time, namely in that he was extraordinarily sensitive and subject to recurrent periods of exaltation and depression of spirit. This oscillation of mood plagued him throughout his life. He testified that it began in his youth and that the depressions had been acute in the six months prior to his entry into the monastery." P.20

    3. Roman Catholic doctrine mad him feel a strong sense of guilt

Bainton continues:

"The explanation lies rather in the tensions which medieval religion deliberately induced, playing alternately upon fear and hope. Hell was stoked not because men lived in perpetual dread, but precisely because they did not, and in order to instill enough fear to drive them to the sacraments of the Church. If they were petrified with terror, purgatory was introduced by way of mitigation as an intermediate place where those not bad enough for hell nor good enough for heaven might make further expiation." P.21

    4. He and his companions were struck by lightening, and only Luther survived--he decided to be a priest
     c. Entered prominent university, received doctorate in Theology
         1). His studies and religious exercises failed to give him grace
         2). Became disillusioned with the clergy of the church in Rome

A History of the Reformation relates:

"D'Aubigne relates 'One day when he was officiating he found that the priests at an adjoining altar had already repeated seven masses before he had finished one. 'Quick, quick!' cried one of them, 'send our Lady back her Son,' making an impious allusion to the transubstantiation of the bread into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. At another time Luther had only just reached the Gospel, when the priest at his side had already terminated the mass. 'Passa, passa!' cried the latter to him, 'make haste! Have it done at once.' His astonishment was still greater, when he found in the DIGNITARIES OF THE PAPACY what he had already observed in the inferior clergy. He had hoped better things of them.' Returning home, he pondered over the scenes of the pious pilgrims in Rome seeking salvation through various endeavors. And he shuddered as he recalled the frivolity, the moral wretchedness, and the lack of real spiritual knowledge in that city--supposedly 'the capital of Christendom.' (History of the Reformation, p. 68)"

        c. Tacked his 95 theses on the door of the church
     d. (c.1529) was excommunicated; German nobility supported him and protested the catholic decision to excommunicate him; granted Luther sanctuary
     e. Translated the Bible into German
     f. He set the pace for the reformation
     g. More nearly catholic than any other reformer
2. Doctrines he developed;
     a. Kingdom of God not a literal return
         1) Referred to as chiliasm
         2) 1,000 year reign had occurred in the church
         3) Christ's return would be to do away with the anti-christ
     b. Book of Revelation, and I, II, & III John considered not as inspired as the rest of the scriptures, Jude should end the Bible

Walker comments:

"Few services greater than this translation have ever been rendered to the development of the religious life of a nation. Nor, with all his deference to the Word of God, was Luther without his own canons of criticism. These were the relative clearness with which his interpretation of the work of Christ and the method of salvation by faith is taught. Judged by these standards, he felt that Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation were of inferior worth. Even in Scripture itself there were differences in value." (Walker, p. 349)

        c. Wrestled with Catholic doctrines
         1) Infant baptism, idols, trinitarianism
         2) Concluded with catholic doctrines
     d. Acknowledged Catholic church as the church of God

Hausser quotes Luther:

"Luther said, 'if I am convicted of error, I shall willingly retract it, and not weaken the power and glory of the holy Roman Church.' We notice that Luther still regarded the Roman church as 'holy.'" P.22

Alzog's Universal History continues:

"As late as March 3, 1519, Luther wrote the Pope: 'Now, Most Holy Father, I protest before God and his creatures that it has never been my purpose, nor is it now, to do ought that might weaken or overthrow the authority of the Roman Church or that of your Holiness; nay, more, I confess that the power of this church is above all things; that nothing in heaven or on earth is to be set before it. Jesus alone, the Lord of all, excepted." (Alzog's Universal History p. 195)

            1) Believed he was not separate, but was reforming it
         2) Referred to his church as the 'church of God' several times
     e. Major doctrine: Law vs. Grace
         1) Salvation by faith not by works only, what you do has no bearing

Fisher continues:

"Fisher relates Luther's feeling: 'Through the Gospel that righteousness is revealed which avails before God -- by which He, out of grace and mere compassion, justifies us through faith. 'Here I felt at once,' he says, 'that I was wholly born again and that I had entered through open doors into Paradise itself. That passage of Paul was truly to me the gate of Paradise.' He saw that Christ is not come as a lawgiver, but as a Savior; that love, not wrath or justice, is the motive in his mission and work; that the forgiveness of sins through Him is a free gift; that the relationship of the soul to Him, and through Him to the Father, which is expressed by the term faith, the responsive act of the soul to the divine mercy, is all that is required. This method of reconciliation is without the works of the law.' (The Reformation, p. 91)"

Bainton shows that Luther hater God as lawgiver:

“He wrote: 'I greatly longed to understand Paul's Epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, the justice of God, because I took it to mean that justice whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust. My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.' (Bainton, p. 49)"

            2) Jas 2:21-24 justified by works; Luther he wrote the book; called it an "epistle of straw"
         3) Rom 3:20 added word "alone" to German text; not present in original Greek
     f. Reasoning for infant baptism:
         1) Baptize children into the faith of the church
         2) Philosophy, if a child can believe, they can believe because infant baptism is right and valid
     g. On predestination: God pre-determined who would be saved

D. Zwingli (1484-1581)
    1. Same time period as Martin Luther.
2. No credit for any reformation movement; though he paved the way for Calvinism.
3. Was a humanist:
     a. Concerned for the welfare of others
     b. Humanism, a common leftist movement on the catholic church
     c. In 1525 published a commentary on true and false religion
     d. Once others left Catholic fold doctrinal views began to differ

From R.C. Meredith's Protestant Reformation:

"'Although in most points he held the ordinary Protestant views, he differed from them in the doctrine of the Sacrament, as will hereafter be explained. He held to predestination as a philosophical tenet, but taught that Christ has redeemed the entire race. He considered original sin a disorder rather than a state involving guilt. He believed that the sages of antiquity were illuminated by the Divine Spirit, and in his catalogue of saints he placed Socrates, Seneca, the Catos, and even Hercules,' (The History of the Christian Church, by Fisher, p. 308)"

    2. Other Protestants agreed with this

R.C. Meredith continues:

"Of course, many Protestant writers acclaim Zwingli for his 'broad' views on the heathen speculators. Hastie lauds Zwingli's view: 'With a breadth of thought and feeling rare in his age, he recognized a divine inspiration in the thoughts and lives of the nobler spirits of antiquity, such as Socrates, Plato and Seneca, and hoped even to meet with them in heaven' (Hastie, The Theology of the Reformed Church, p. 184)."

    3. Transubstantiation became a source of contention and debate between Zwingli and Luther
4. Both declared the other not Christian over this controversy

Walker tells us:

"Luther declared Zwingli and his supporters to be no Christians, while Zwingli affirmed that Luther was worse than the Roman champion, Eck. Zwingli's views, however, met the approval not only of German-speaking Switzerland but of much of southwestern Germany. The Roman party rejoiced at this evident division of the Evangelical forces' (Walker, p. 364)"

E. Calvin (1509-1564)
1. Second in reformation movement after Luther.
2. Developed in Switzerland.
3. Protestant religion formed; made into state religion; completely separate from RCC
     a. Wrote 1st systematic presentation of Christmas doctrine in reformation
     b. His work entitled Institutes of the Christian Religion
4. Became no better than catholic predecessors.
5. His personality:
     a. Extremely harsh, and severe person
     b. Aesthetic in nature
     c. Ruthless methods
     d. Became more dictatorial than any catholic pope
1. He stressed that men are to forsake all pleasure in this life
2. As a result he punished people severely, for even trivial things

Schaff's History of the Christian Church Vol. VIII 490-492 Shows examples of Calvin's theocracy:

"Let us give a summary of the most striking cases of discipline. Several women, among them the wife of Ami Perrin, the captain-general, were imprisoned for dancing. Bonivard, the hero of political liberty, and a friend of Calvin, was cited before the Consistory because he had played at dice with Clement Marot, the poet, for a quart of wine. A man was banished from the city for three months because, on hearing an ass bray, he said jestingly: 'he prays a beautiful psalm.' A young man was punished because he gave his bride a book on housekeeping with the remark: 'This is the best Psalter.' A lady of Ferrar was expelled from the city for expressing sympathy with the Libertines, and abusing Calvin and the Consistory. Three men who had laughed during the sermon were imprisoned for three days. Another had to do public penance for neglecting to commune on Whitsunday. Three children were punished because they remained outside of the church during the sermon to eat cake...A person named Chapuis was imprisoned for four days because he persisted in calling his child Claude (a Roman Catholic saint) instead of Abraham, as the minister wished, and saying that he would sooner keep his son unbaptized for fifteen years. Bolsec, Gentilis, and Castellio were expelled from the Republic for heretical opinions. Men and women were burnt for witchcraft. Gruet was beheaded for sedition and atheism. Serverus was burnt for heresy and blasphemy. The last is the most flagrant case which, more that all others combined, has exposed the name of Calvin to abuse and execration; but it should be remembered that he wished to substitute the milder punishment of the sword for the stake, and in this point at least he was in advance of the public opinion and usual practice of his age' (Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. VIII, p. 490--4920."

  "The official acts of the Council from 1541 to 1559 exhibit a dark chapter of fines, imprisonments, and executions. During the ravages of the pestilence in 1545 more than twenty men and women burnt were burnt alive for witchcraft, and a wicked conspiracy to spread the horrible disease. From 1542 to 1546 fifty-eight judgments of death and seventy-six decrees of banishments were passed. During the years 1558 and 1559 the cases of various punishments for all sorts of offences amounted to four hundred and fourteen -- a very large proportion for a population of 20,000' (Schaff, p. 492)"

    6. Five points of Calvinism:
     a. Man totally depraved
     b. Unconditional predestination
     c. Redemption granted to the elect
     d. Grace irresistible
     e. Once saved, always saved

Walker explains Calvin’s view:

"'Man's highest knowledge, Calvin taught, is that of God and of himself. Enough comes by nature to leave man without excuse, but adequate knowledge is given only in the Scriptures, which the witness of the Spirit in the heart of the believing reader attests as the very voice of God. The Scriptures teach that God is good, and the source of all goodness everywhere. Obedience to God's will is man's primary duty. As originally created, man was good and capable of obeying God's will, but he lost goodness and power alike in Adam's fall, and is now, of himself, absolutely incapable of goodness. Hence no work of man's can have any merit, and all men are in a state of ruin meriting only damnation. From this helpless and hopeless condition some men are undeservedly rescued through the work of Christ. Since all good is of God, and man is unable to initiate or resist his conversion, it follows that the reason some are saved and others are lost is the divine choice-- election and reprobation. For a reason for that choice beyond the will of God it is absurd to inquire, since God's will is an ultimate fact' (Walker, pp.392-394)."

Calvin explains his views about predestination:

“In the section on predestination in his 'Institutes of the Christian Religion,' Calvin dogmatically states: 'No one who wishes to be thought religious dares outright to deny predestination, by which God chooses some for the hope of life, and condemns others to eternal death.... By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he has decided in his own mind what he wishes to happen in the case of each individual. For all men are not created on an equal footing, but for some eternal life is pre- ordained, for others eternal damnation...' (Bettenson, Documents, p. 302)."

F. John Knox (1514-1572).
1. A Calvinist in Scotland.
2. Established Scottish branch of Protestant reformation.

G. John Wesley (1703-1791).
1. Founded Methodist church in England.
2. Took major hold in U.S.

H. John Huss:
1. Attempted reform, but remained within confines of the Catholic Church.
2. No indication he was part of the true church.
3. Located in Czechoslovakia, then known as Transylvania.
4. Put strong emphasis on the Ten Commandments.
5. Made it possible for other groups to exist - Sabbatarians.

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