The Plain Truth About the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation — Lessons for Us
Today, the difference between Protestants and Catholics has become blurred. Many Protestant Churches are co-operating with, and taking the road back to, Rome. A study of the history of the Protestant Reformation reveals that this has always been the case.
The Protestant Reformation of the Sixteenth Century did not restore the true “faith which was once delivered to the saints.” The Roman Catholic Church did not need “reforming,” because it was not the original Church which Jesus and His Apostles built, that had merely gone wrong. At the start of the Reformation, Protestants did not seek for, and unite with, the Church of the Wilderness. Instead, they wrongly believed that the true Church was a big political organization. The Bible, however, says it would be a little flock, Luke 12:32. Protestant leaders such as Luther, Calvin, and others, admitted that they believed the Catholic Church was God’s Church, and they were still part of it, albeit protesting its excesses. Protestantism generally began, and continued, to be a political, national, and cultural, rebellion against Roman Catholic corruption and power. They protest over much, because when Protestants gained control of political power in certain cities and states, they tended to be intolerant and repressive of Catholics, Anabaptists, and others who disagreed with them. “The Reformers inherited the doctrine of persecution from their mother Church . . .” (Schaff, Vol. VIII, p. 700).
Noted Protestant theologian Chillingworth stated, “The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, is the religion of Protestants.” However, since all the early Protestant leaders were schooled in the Roman Catholic religion, it is not surprising that Protestants carried over a great deal of false, non-biblical Romish doctrine. Protestant leaders distorted or rejected many passages of Scripture, which did not conform to their doctrinal ideas. When the Bible did not provide the answers he wanted, Luther looked to Roman Catholic tradition. Even more than Luther, Calvin explained away all that seemed to limit or condition his personal beliefs (Moore, History of the Reformation, p. 479).
Protestants consider themselves only as a continuation of the historic Catholic Church, but under a different and “purified” form. Luther affirmed his oneness with the Catholic Church, many years after the political break with Rome. Without the political support of German princes, Lutheranism would have gone nowhere. Calvin’s “theocracy” in Geneva, Switzerland, oppressed all who disagreed with his rigid beliefs. Calvin aggressively pushed the burning at the stake of Michael Servetus, whose anti-Trinitarian views were anathema to Calvin.
A key Protestant doctrine, from the sixteenth century to the present, is a low view of marriage. One of Luther’s chief supporters among German nobility was the Landgrave of Hesse. He claimed that the state of his health required him to cohabit with more than one wife. Luther needed this powerful noble’s support. In a signed statement by Luther, Melanchthon, and other Lutheran leaders, the Landgrave was advised to obtain a second wife secretly. However, when word got out of this scandalous action, Luther advised “a good strong lie” to cover it up. Such was the effect of Luther’s “justification by faith alone” doctrine. Luther added the word “alone” to Romans 3:28, in order to support his erroneous teaching, which confused “justification” with “salvation.” Luther detested God’s Law and anything to do with Moses. He degraded the book of James to an “epistle of straw,” and rejected the prophecies of Revelation as uninspired. Luther betrayed the German peasants who trusted him to get papists off their backs. When German peasants revolted from heavy taxation, Luther urged the German princes to “smite, strangle, and stab” the peasants and their loved ones.
Andreas Carlstadt, a follower of Luther, actually attempted to reinstate many of the practices of Christ and the Apostles. He renounced all clerical garb, refusing to be called “Doctor,” but only “Brother Andreas.” Carlstadt destroyed images and introduced strict Sabbatarianism. This Luther would not tolerate. Luther banished Carlstadt from Wittenberg.
Luther exhibited the same vicious hatred and jealousy of the Jews, as later characterized the rule of Adolph Hitler. In early pamphlets, he called upon Christians to take the Bible from Jews, to burn their books and synagogues with pitch and brimstone, and to forbid their worship under penalty of death. He described Jews as “young devils doomed to hell” who should be driven out of the country. And, in his final sermon before he died, Luther once more called down the vengeance of heaven upon the Jews.
The English Reformation produced no great religious leaders. It began when the lustful King Henry VIII wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon, in order to marry Anne Boleyn to produce a male heir. Rome refused to allow this, and excommunicated Henry, who in turn confiscated Church property for himself and his friends. Henry divorced and remarried several times, after beheading a couple of his wives. Sex, money, and politics were driving reasons for the English Reformation as well as the Reformation on the Continent of Europe. Protestantism is not the religion of the Bible.
Countless Protestant books, pamphlets, and tracts identify the “Great Whore” of Revelation 17 as the Roman Catholic Church. But that voice is now muted, because many Protestants suddenly came to the embarrassing realization that they were telling on themselves! Truly, the Roman Catholic Church is a leader in Babylon the Great, and her Protestant daughters are harlots descended from the great whore.
As Plummer writes in The Continental Reformation, “To a large extent the true way of stating the case is not that the teaching of the Reformers had made men worse, but, that it had failed to make them better. And it is here that the parallel between the Reformation and the first preaching of the Gospel breaks down” (p. 189).
Nevertheless, there were two worthwhile results of the Reformation: (1) Reformers freed men from the binding authority of the Roman Catholic Church and the superstitious fear of its religious power, and (2) men were given real encouragement to read the Bible for themselves.
What can we learn from the history of the Protestant Reformation? Religion and politics do not mix. It is extremely difficult for mankind to extricate itself from the paganized Babylonish religion of Rome. Only a heart yielded to the Holy Spirit can understand the Bible, and work with others to edify the Church.
In his masterful work, “The Plain Truth About the Protestant Reformation,” Roderick C. Meredith writes:
“The REASON God has allowed today’s religious confusion is so that after 6000 years of human misrule — bringing us now to the verge of WORLD SUICIDE — man might at last ‘have enough’ of his own ways, his own political schemes, his own religious theories.
“After a time of great punishment which he has brought on himself, man will at last be really willing to learn of God’s ways and laws, and to accept His rule through Jesus Christ so the world can at last have peace!
“God’s Church has NEVER had many different names, doctrines, and practices. He has only permitted this ‘Babylon’ of religious confusion to develop so that man might be able — under Satan’s deceiving influence — to try out every conceivable type of religious theory he might lust after.
“This is so that man might — in plain language — once and for all get his ‘bellyful’ of the foolish ideas and reasonings of carnal, human, erring MEN. Then, perhaps, he will be willing to obey GOD!”
Roderick C. Meredith’s excellent 94-page article, “The Plain Truth About the Protestant Reformation,” is available on 30-day LOAN for a donation of $3.00.