Protestant Acknowledges “Five Things We Lost because of the Reformation” – one of the best I’ve read on it

by Steve Ray on August 7, 2019

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.

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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.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Donald Link March 17, 2019 at 1:25 PM

In social sciences (religion is one), unlike physics, there is no equal and opposite reaction to an initial action. The reaction can be greater or less than the original cause. Such it was with the Reformation. The reaction to the real abuses in the Catholic Church was far out of proportion and destroyed most of the good while attacking what was wrong. Most regrettable and when noting the condition of Protestantism today, not all that lasting.

Hilary Najak March 17, 2019 at 3:44 PM

My mother’s family are Protestants. Well actually all atheists. Had to explain to one why she should not remarry after divorce. She has 2 children. I have had vitriol from her and husband to be. I rejoiced in Christ as am suffering for His Law. Strange though her ‘husband to be’ emailed to ask why even though he said had made a ‘valid decision not to be a Christian’ Jesus had come to this conclusion. As if He didn’t already know His own laws. I pray for them and hope one day they will repent of their adultery. Said His early followers hadn’t even known Him. What ignorance. He said I was a sad lonely person. Nothing could be further from the truth thanks to the Catholic Church.

James Stagg Deacon (retired) March 17, 2019 at 4:16 PM

Good article that should cause a lot of regret for what has been lost, Mr. Ray.

But I think Nick Page missed the boat, so to speak. The major loss was the loss of the Eucharist; without it, as Luther obviously knew, there can be no “Christian” church. Too late to comment on his article, and I wonder at the comments that were posted. On a trip to Israel many years ago, I had personal experience with five of the Methodist ministers who acknowledged what was missing in their liturgy. It was a shock to me.

John Servorum March 17, 2019 at 4:21 PM

The primary thing Protestants lost because of their rebellion against the Catholic Church was the Church herself. The Church remains unified, in fact she remains the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as our Lord intended.
But those who left the Church left the very idea of Church unity behind, trading it instead for the many thousands of denominational sects of Protestantism, none of which are firmly rooted in the Holy Catholic Church of Jesus Christ.
Return to unity. Return to Christ. Return to the Holy Catholic Church and be saved.

John Henry March 18, 2019 at 4:15 AM

It was due in part to that call to unity, i.e., to do my part to help restore the unity of the Church, that I sought to be received into the Church that Jesus Christ founded. I do not reject the good and true parts of my upbringing, but the truth of the matter is that only in the Catholic Church is found the fullness of the Faith, the same Faith handed on by the Apostles and their successors, the Catholic bishops. Thanks be to God, and thanks to the patience of my sponsor, I finally “came home” to Rome in 1985. Now, I am among former Anglicans who have returned to Rome in/through the Personal Ordinariate (of the Chair of Saint Peter)! God is good!

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