This is a vital question for all who stand for Truth. For some time now we have been hearing references to “the so-called Reformation”; “the tragedy of the Reformation”, “the schisms of the sixteenth century.” These terms are so often used by Protestants who are trying desperately to justify the Romeward trend of so-called ‘Christian Unity’. Roman Catholic Apologists and propagandists have gone from strength to strength, aided and abetted by Protestants.
Was this great Spiritual event of the sixteenth century a tragedy? Were the Reformers Deceived?
Let us look at the facts of history for the answers to these important questions:
- Fact number one is to be found tucked away in Hosea 4:17.
“Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone”
Ephraim-Britain has been joined to idols for a very long time. When the Northern House of Israel set out on the long migratory journey, which eventually brought the main body to these north western isles (in fulfillment of Psalm 48:2, Psalm 51:5, and Psalm 60:9), a great many idolatrous habits were absorbed on the way. For 1,260 years gross darkness covered the land. The lack of Biblical knowledge caused a build-up of a most pernicious superstition. Faith and morals were non-existent, except for the few who refused to bow the knee to Baal.
Many of the doctrines were of pagan origin, and the people, out of fear, had no other choice but to obey the priests. After 18 years deliberation, between 1537 and 1555, the Council of Trent drew up the foul doctrines of Rome. The tenets of the Roman Church are to be found in many Anglican Churches today.
- Fact number two is that the Roman Catholic Church had to initiate the counter reformation, which gave rise to the notorious Jesuits. The avowed intention was the overthrow of the Protestant Reformation.
Hostile propaganda declares that the Reformation was against the Will of God and that Protestantism was a new religion, which did not exist until the 16th century.
- Fact number three disproves this statement.
The basic doctrines of Protestantism are to be found in the three ancient Catholic Creeds embraced by the early Christian Church, namely, The Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. The embracing of these three Creeds by true Protestants proves that they were not the instigators of a new religion. The Roman Catholic Church, in fact, formed a new religion in 1564 by publishing a completely new creed, that of Pope Pius IV with fifteen totally unscriptural articles. This creed which was eighteen years in the making, had never existed in any form before 1564. Many blasphemies have been added down the years.
The next line of propaganda declares that the Protestant religion was started by the wicked King Henry VIII because the Pope refused him permission to marry Anne Boleyn, after divorcing his wife, Catherine of Aragon. Any person who accepts this is deceived and does not know the facts of history. To think of a whole nation throwing domination simply because a king quarreled with a Pope is not off Papal worthy of consideration.
Henry VIII, no friend of Protestants, lived and died a Roman Catholic and received the Title “Defender of the Faith”, for writing a book against Martin Luther. The reader will, no doubt, want proof of this statement and the following extract is from “Civitas Dei. The Commonwealth of God” by Lionel Curtis - (All Soul’s College, Oxford 1938).
“In England the flame kindled by Wycliffe, had never been quenched, even by the terrible laws which Lancastrian kings had enacted against the Lollards. Luther’s appeal from the Church to Scripture quickly revived it. In 1524 Tyndale visited Luther in Wittenburg and started to print in Germany his translation of the New Testament. The Church was now alive to the danger of encouraging laymen to read the Scriptures.
When Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, found he could not prevent copies of Tyndale’s Bible from reaching England, he commissioned agents to buy up the whole issue in Germany. Henry VIII himself published a book against Luther, earning thereby from the Pope, the title of “Fidei Defensor” which the crown to this day quaintly preserves.”
Further evidence is obtained from “A Short History of the English People” by Johm Richard Green and the following is found on Page 321 “The young king himself, a trained theologian and proud of his theological knowledge, entered the lists against Luther with “An Assertion of the Seven Sacraments”, for which he was awarded by Leo, with the title “Defender of the Faith”. He also left a large sum of money to the church in order to have Masses said for the repose of his soul”.
In Germany God raised Martin Luther, the Monk who shook the world. As a monk he had access to the Bible and when reading from Romans 5:1, he found peace with God.
The Church however, taught that salvation could not be found outside of her, but here, written plainly, it clearly states:
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God”.
Luther was a professor of theology at Wittenburg when he was informed that Tetzel, a Dominican and the papal Legate, was selling indulgences in the market place. Luther’s anger was aroused because of this. He reasoned that if a man was justified by faith, then Romans 8:1 applied:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”
He stirred up a hornet’s nest because of the corruption in the church and in the form of his 95 Theses it was clearly stated:
la) That an Indulgence can never remit guilt: God alone has kept that in His own hand. lb) It cannot remit Divine punishment for sin - God has also kept that in His own hand. (c) The Christian who truly repented has already received pardon from God, and needs no Indulgence.
Tens of thousands of copies of Luther’s Theses were printed and sent all over Germany. This proved to be the spark that started the fire of the Reformation in Europe.
Luther did not realize the issue that he had raised. The Pope thought it was a squabble between two monks, but he found he was mistaken and ordered Luther to Rome in 1518. Luther refused to go, as he realized to do so meant a certain death. The Papal legate in Germany was asked to deal with the situation. He met Luther at Augsburg, and objected to statements in the Theses such as that the merits of Christ free the sinner without Papal intervention.
Luther refused to recant and returned to Wittenburg. In 1519 Luther caused a sensation at Leipzig by emphatically declaring that the supremacy of Rome was unknown in the Scriptures, and that it had grown up over the previous 400 years. The Reformer realized that he had gone too far to be able to return to the Papal fold, and broke free, taking the Word of God as his only rule of faith. On 15th June, 1520, a Papal Bull was issued excommunicating Martin Luther and ordering all his works to be burned. The fiery Reformer replied by consigning the Papal Bull, along with the Canon Law, into a bonfire in the presence of a huge crowd.
The real Doctrinal Reformation commenced in England in the reign of the boy King Edward VI. This was marked by the issue of two prayer books, the 1549 and the 1552 editions of the Book of Common Prayer. The first was a poor compromise but the second was a Service Book free from error. This was in the language of the people as opposed to the Latin mass which held the populace in bondage to superstitious heresy. The 1552 Prayer Book was significant in that the word “altar” was omitted from the Communion Service and “table” substituted. This was a severe blow against the Sacerdotelist element and was plain denial that the minister was a sacrificing priest. It was also laid down that the minister was to face the congregation in contrast to the Latin custom of the priest turning his back to the people. The 1552 Prayer Book also omitted prayers for the dead and secret auricular confession.
Wide and the eyes of the world were opened to the marvels of the Scriptures. The way was open for all to accept Christ. The martyrs laid down their lives for the sake of truth and millions died at the hand of the papacy with the name of the Lord Jesus Christ on their lips and a smile of satisfaction on their faces which indicated that their suffering was not fruitless nor had they died in vain.
Spiritual Principles of the Reformation.
There are four main principles which brought about the Protestant Reformation, the first of which is:
- The Sufficiency of the Scriptures.
“But these are vvntten that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His Name.” St. John 20:31.
The sufficiency of the Scriptures for salvation is the bulwark of the Protestant Faith. This truth emerged during the dark days of persecution as the servants of God were driven to their Bibles. The empire of the antichrist was shaken to its foundation when the lie was exposed, yet so many thousands in our own land are still held in the grip of papal bondage to look to relics, prayers to the saints, a long recital of confessions and performance of penances in an endeavor to be saved. The Scriptures contain all that is necessary for us to know regarding the way of salvation and freedom from corruption and superstition which emanates from Pagan religion. The Bible became for the Reformers the rule of faith by which everything was measured. The Roman Church teaches that men are saved only by the Sacraments instituted by the Church and by good works. The Scripture declares: “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10. In the light of these words, inspired of the Holy Spirit, it is easy to understand why the papacy forbade the people to read the Bible for themselves; such declarations would surely undermine the foundations of the Roman Church.
- The Blasphemous Fable.
The Roman Church has long taught the doctrine of what is called “the real Presence” and allege that by virtue of the words of consecration uttered by the priest the bread becomes the substance of our Lord’s body and the wine becomes the blood of the Lord. This doctrine was first advocated by Paschasius Radbertus in the 9th Century, was taught again in the 1 1 th Century by Lanfranc and was confirmed in 1215 by the Fourth Lateran Council under Pope Innocent III. The Council of Trent in its thirteenth session 11 1 th October 1551) finalized the doctrine - in opposition to Protestant denial - in the following terms:
“This holy Synod do now declare it anew, that by the consecration of the bread and of the wine a conversion is made of the whole substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood; which conversion is, by the Holy Catholic Church, suitably and properly called “transubstantiation.”
The struggle against this doctrine took place mainly in England. The Holy Spirit brought to remembrance the fact that the Memorial Feast instituted by our Lord in the upper room was only a memorial. During the supper of the Passover our Lord took bread and brake it and He took also the cup of wine and told His disciples that as He had broken the loaf of bread and as the wine had been poured out into the cup so would His body be broken and His blood be poured out. He further instructed them to remember His death and anticipate His Coming, in this Memorial Feast.
Romish superstition changed all this from Christian simplicity to idolatrous mass. the Reformation restored to the Christian remnant in Britain the real message of the Lord’s Supper.
Our Reforming Fathers have stated quite plainly that:
“…Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth that nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstition.s”
Article 28, Book of Common Prayer.
The Reformers further taught that:
“…Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead. to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits”.
Article 30, Book of Common Prayer.
The fourth great principle of the Reformation is 4. The Supremacy of Christ
This doctrine shows that Papacy to be antichrist. The church of Christ should be more familiar with the Papal Bull “Unam Sanctum”, issued by Pope Boniface VIllth in 1302: The Pope stated:
“We declare define and pronounce that it is absolutely essential to salvation for every creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff '
This claim has never been repealed and the present Pope is acting within the sentiments of this declaration. In the light of this fact we may well ask, “What of the World Council of Churches”.
The Reformers replied to this fatuous claim in the words of Article 18, of the Book of Common Prayer:
“They are also to be found accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect, which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the Light of Nature.
For holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby we must be saved.”
Many long and bitter battles were waged and many lives were lost over the fight for supremacy. The Protestant Reformation decided the issue.
For 1,260 years the priests of Rome were each a law unto themselves and no one dared to condemn them, not even kings. At this moment in time the doctrine of the Roman Church is established around the dogma of Papacy Supremacy. Here is one of the strong marks of the anti-christian system.
The Identity of the Anti-Christ
The identity of the Papacy as the Man of Sin - The Anti-Christ - was not preached publicly until about the 12th Century. Since that time the Waldenses and the Albigenses in Europe, Huss and Jerome in Prague Wycliffe and his followers in England, have all proclaimed the teaching, basing it entirely upon the historical fulfillment of the Scriptural prophecy. There has not been wanting many to preacah the same truth during the intervening years, nor is there today.
Were the Reformers Deceived?
From the evidence of scriptural prophecy and by the weight of ecclesiastical and secular history the answer must be a resounding “NO”. The truth is that the Holy Spirit revealed to God’s faithful servants the truth of scripture and they declared it everywhere. Thousands upon thousands heard the message and were gloriously saved without priest or pope.
In our endeavors to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom to His Inheritance, we must keep within the bounds of Scripture and fearlessly preach Christ in all His fulness.