Reformation Leaders. Some murdered by the Roman Catholic Church.

Reformed Theology and protestant reformation leaders, some whom were murdered by the Roman catholic church.

John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530. After religious tensions provoked a violent uprising against Protestants in France, Calvin fled to Basel, Switzerland, where he published the first edition of his seminal work Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1536. Calvin was influenced by the Augustinian tradition, which led him to expound the doctrine of predestination and the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation of the human soul from death and eternal damnation. His writings and preachings provided the seeds for the branch of theology that bears his name. The Reformed and Presbyterian churches, which look to Calvin as a chief expositor of their beliefs, have spread throughout the world.

Calvin’s Theology in a nutshell.

Calvin developed his theology in his biblical commentaries as well as his sermons and treatises, but the most concise expression of his views is found in his magnum opus, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. He intended that the book be used as a summary of his views on Christian theology and that it be read in conjunction with his commentaries.The various editions of that work span nearly his entire career as a reformer, and the successive revisions of the book show that his theology changed very little from his youth to his death. The first edition from 1536 consisted of only six chapters. The second edition, published in 1539, was three times as long because he added chapters on subjects that appear in Melanchthon’s Loci Communes. In 1543, he again added new material and expanded a chapter on the Apostles’ Creed. The final edition of the Institutes appeared in 1559. By then, the work consisted of four books of eighty chapters, and each book was named after statements from the creed: Book 1 on God the Creator, Book 2 on the Redeemer in Christ, Book 3 on receiving the Grace of Christ through the Holy Spirit, and Book 4 on the Society of Christ or the Church.

Title page from the final edition of Calvin’s magnum opus, Institutio Christiane Religionis, which summarises his theology.

The first statement in the Institutes acknowledges its central theme. It states that the sum of human wisdom consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. Calvin argues that the knowledge of God is not inherent in humanity nor can it be discovered by observing this world. The only way to obtain it is to study scripture. Calvin writes, “For anyone to arrive at God the Creator he needs Scripture as his Guide and Teacher.” He does not try to prove the authority of scripture but rather describes it as autopiston or self-authenticating. He defends the trinitarian view of God and, in a strong polemical stand against the Catholic Church, argues that images of God lead to idolatry. At the end of the first book, he offers his views on providence, writing, “By his Power God cherishes and guards the World which he made and by his Providence rules its individual Parts.” Humans are unable to fully comprehend why God performs any particular action, but whatever good or evil people may practise, their efforts always result in the execution of God’s will and judgments.

The second book includes several essays on the original sin and the fall of man, which directly refer to Augustine, who developed these doctrines. He often cited the Church Fathers in order to defend the reformed cause against the charge that the reformers were creating new theology.In Calvin’s view, sin began with the fall of Adam and propagated to all of humanity. The domination of sin is complete to the point that people are driven to evil. Thus fallen humanity is in need of the redemption that can be found in Christ. But before Calvin expounded on this doctrine, he described the special situation of the Jews who lived during the time of the Old Testament. God made a covenant with Abraham and the substance of the promise was the coming of Christ. Hence, the Old Covenant was not in opposition to Christ, but was rather a continuation of God’s promise. Calvin then describes the New Covenant using the passage from the Apostles’ Creed that describes Christ’s suffering under Pontius Pilate and his return to judge the living and the dead. For Calvin, the whole course of Christ’s obedience to the Father removed the discord between humanity and God.

In the third book, Calvin describes how the spiritual union of Christ and humanity is achieved. He first defines faith as the firm and certain knowledge of God in Christ. The immediate effects of faith are repentance and the remission of sin. This is followed by spiritual regeneration, which returns the believer to the state of holiness before Adam’s transgression. However, complete perfection is unattainable in this life, and the believer should expect a continual struggle against sin. Several chapters are then devoted to the subject of justification by faith alone. He defined justification as “the acceptance by which God regards us as righteous whom he has received into grace.”In this definition, it is clear that it is God who initiates and carries through the action and that people play no role; God is completely sovereign in salvation. Near the end of the book, Calvin describes and defends the doctrine of predestination, a doctrine advanced by Augustine in opposition to the teachings of Pelagius. Fellow theologians who followed the Augustinian tradition on this point included Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther. The principle, in Calvin’s words, is that “God adopts some to the hope of life and adjudges others to eternal death.”

The final book describes what he considers to be the true Church and its ministry, authority, and sacraments. He denied the papal claim to primacy and the accusation that the reformers were schismatic. For Calvin, the Church was defined as the body of believers who placed Christ at its head. By definition, there was only one “catholic” or “universal” Church. Hence, he argued that the reformers, “had to leave them in order that we might come to Christ.” The ministers of the Church are described from a passage from Ephesians, and they consisted of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and doctors. Calvin regarded the first three offices as temporary, limited in their existence to the time of the New Testament. The latter two offices were established in the church in Geneva. Although Calvin respected the work of the ecumenical councils, he considered them to be subject to God’s Word, the teaching of scripture. He also believed that the civil and church authorities were separate and should not interfere with each other.

Calvin defined a sacrament as an earthly sign associated with a promise from God. He accepted only two sacraments as valid under the new covenant: baptism and the Lord’s Supper (in opposition to the Catholic acceptance of seven sacraments). He completely rejected the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation and the treatment of the Supper as a sacrifice. He also could not accept the Lutheran doctrine of sacramental union in which Christ was “in, with and under” the elements. His own view was close to Zwingli’s symbolic view, but it was not identical. Rather than holding a purely symbolic view, Calvin noted that with the participation of the Holy Spirit, faith was nourished and strengthened by the sacrament. In his words, the eucharistic rite was “a secret too sublime for my mind to understand or words to express. I experience it rather than understand it.”

The Marian Doctrine.

To Calvin, Mary is an idol in the Roman Church, and she diminishes the centrality and importance of Jesus. Hence, his Genevan Catechism not only outlawed Marian veneration, it also punished related behavior, such as carrying a rosary, observing a saints day, or possessing holy relics. Regarding Marian relics, Calvin commented in an ironical way that since the Papists had assumed her to be in heaven, at least nobody can claim to have Marian relics, otherwise there would be so many Marian bones in circulation, that a huge new cemetery could be filled with them.

Calvin on salvation.

Calvin was convinced of man’s smallness and God’s immensity. No amount of good works of the little creature could possibly ensure his salvation, which only God can will. Calvin believed that all salvation is determined by him, who determined long before creation, who is to be saved and who is to be damned. Because all salvation depends exclusively on the will of God and the salvation works of his son Jesus Christ, Calvin rejects any notion of Mary as a participant in the mystery of salvation.He wonders why to some Jesus Christ alone is not sufficient, and calls this pure defiance. Therefore Roman Catholic veneration is idolatry, because Mary is honoured with titles like « mediator » « our hope » « our life » and our light. Thus, Calvin rejects prayers and supplications to Mary. We should pray for each other in this world, but, according to Calvin, calling on the dead is not a biblical concept. Once God damns a person, he is damned. Calvin’s theology has no room for purgatory, as there is no in between place for an eventual salvation. And therefore, Calvin does not permit prayer for the dead, as their fate is sealed.To call on Mary for salvation is nothing but blasphemy “exsecrabilis blasphemia”, because God alone has predestinated the amount of grace to each individual in his absolute will.

There are several doctrinal beliefs in which Calvin and I differ, but for the most part his theology stands true when place side to side with scripture.

Johannes Gutenberg ~ Inventor of the printing press, the first book printed was a latin language bible. He never received any dividens for his invention and passed away in poverty. It is said that if a Gutenberg Bible would come into the world market it would be worth $100 million. Without the printing predd the protestant reformation would have not been possible.

William Tyndale ~ Was influenced by Erasmus who was the first person to ever translate the New Testament from latin to greek and Martin Luther. Tyndale was the first to translate considerable parts of the NT from greek to english for the common person to read. He was tried and charged with heresy for his translating work and burned at the stake.

John Wycliffe ~ Founder of the Lollard movement, a precursor to the Protestant Reformation for this reason, he is sometimes called “the morning star” of the reformation. He translated the NT from the vulgate into vernecular English in the year 1382. The catholic church declared Wycliffe (on May 4th, 1415) a stiff-necked heretic and under the ban of the church. It was declared that his books be burned and his remains exhumed. Pope Martin V commanded that his remains were dug up, burned and the ashes cast into the River Swift.

Patrick Hamilton ~ Early protestant reformer in Sottland. He was tried as a heretic by Archbishop James Beaton and burned  at the stake in St. Andrews. He burned from noon to 6pm.  His heresy? Challenging the catholic church’s position as “sole” interpretive authority of the bible.

During the reformation the Roman catholic church help and defended the position that no common man should be able to neither own or read the bible by themselves. They argued that this would only confuse them since the “correct” interpretation could only be done by the Catholic church’s priests. So, the catholic church persecuted, tried as heretic and condemned to death anyone who tried to translate the bible in the language of the people. Anyone that challenged the catholic church’s “traditions” and “man made doctrines” imposed on the people (who have very faint knowledge of scripture themselves) with the truth of scripture was labeled a HERETIC of the worst kind.

John Knox ~ Considered the founder of the presbyterian denomination in Scottland fled England when Mary Tudor ascended to the throne and re-established Roman Catholicism. He moved to Geneva where he met John Calvin from whom he gained experience and knowledge of Reformed Theology.

George Wishart ~ Taught the NT in Greek as schoolmaster at Montrose, until investigated for heresy by the Bishop of Brechin in 1538. His heresy? Denouncing the errors of the papacy by reading and teaching the scriptures. At his trial he refused to accept that confession was a sacrament, denied free will, recognized the priesthood of all believing christians and rejected the notion that the infinite God could be “comprehended in one place” between “the priest’s hands”. He proclaimed that the true church was where the Word of God was fully preached and the two dominical sacrements (baptism and the Lord supper) rightly administered. For this he received execution by burning at the stake on March 1st 1546.

Martin Luther ~ He was a German priest and professor of theology who initiated the protestant reformation. He disputed the claim that freedom from God’s punishment of sin could NOT be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his ninety-five theses in 1517. He refused to retract his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the holy roman  emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521. This refusal resulted iin his excomminucation by the Pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the emperor. He taught that salvation is not earned by good deeds but received only as a free gift of God’s grace through faith in Christ as redeemer of sin. His theology challenged the authority of the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church by teaching that the bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge and opposed sacerdotalism by considering all baptized christians to be a holy priesthood. He translated the bible to german.

This is where Luther and I differ in beliefs. Baptism is not required for salvation. We clearly see this with the thief on the cross. He was not baptised and yet Christ assured him he would be with Him in paradise. Baptism is done out of obedience not as a requirement for salvation thus not necessary in order to be a “holy priesthood”. I wanted to do a little piece on the protestant reformation as I am so grateful that men of conviction stood up to the heresy of the Catholic church in order to re-establish the TRUE Christian church, that which believes and adheres ONLY to biblical teachings not man made traditions. Like these men there were thousands of protestants murdered by the Roman Catholic Church, how do we know? The Roman Catholic Church kept meticulous records of such accounts!

If you are interested in finding out what Reformed Theology is all about please visit…

About Disciple of Christ, Wife, Mommy of 5 blessings & NM Top Earner.

As a wife, homeschooling stay at home mom of 5 beautiful blessings, taxi, chef, doctor, philosopher etc, my life is full of adventures everyday. Most of the adventures lead me to find another lost piece of my identity concealed deep within my heart. I have always felt that there was more to life than just “making it through”. After 5 little ones (4 under 4 & in diapers), I lost all the pieces I had found along the way. I was left with thinking my identity was being a wife and mom. “This can’t be all there is to me!”, I reasoned. Who am I? What’s in my heart? Why do I thrive around beauty and my heart leaps for joy when experiencing something as simple as a sunset. A feeling like I am free, inside. My heart can breathe again as if it had been holding its oxygen all along. Did God make me like this, I wondered? I felt guilty for longing to let my heart be free once again. After all the picture we have of a “perfect” woman is one that is ALWAYS busy! Always volunteering, always giving of herself with never once a thought of the state of her inner being. That is why we lose our hearts. Vulnerability is not welcomed anywhere. Femininity in its purest form is frowned upon. Why? Because women are supposed to be tough! The kind of tough that is just wrong. We are trained to hide our vulnerability, along with our femininity, very early in life. The wounds we have received as little girls leave us reacting as women like that wounded little girl would: we retreat, we regress. The message we received? You can’t trust anyone! Your femininity and vulnerability is a weakness. Most of us walk through life “playing” or pretending to be someone we’re truly not. As adults, we make choices based on how we were programmed when we were young. The real us hides somewhere inside, waiting to be rescued. Like a wounded animal hiding from its master, wanting to trust and soar again, but so afraid of the uncertainty that awaits. The risk is not worth it, we think to ourselves. To be quite honest most of you have not found a safe place to be yourselves. Embarking on a quest to find the real you takes courage. God created you in His image. Adam bears the image of a warrior God. A man is supposed to tell the world, on God’s behalf, He will come through for you. Eve bears the image of a captivating God and her heart is made to show His beauty. A woman is supposed to tell the world, everything is ok. She is that calm & quiet spirit. Safety; a place of refuge and healing beauty. This is what our hearts long for; Eden. The place for which we were created. The place in our hearts we know we belong. I am just a simple girl on a quest to finding my heart. Not the way I was “shaped” by the world but the way God created me. I pray that this journey will be encouraging and uplifting to others. I am going on an adventure and invite you to come with me! I am very transparent because that is what this world needs! With all my love, Laire

Posted on May 10, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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