Popes - when did the Refomers consider the popes to go off the rails?

Discussion in 'Church History' started by Adam Olive, Apr 2, 2019.

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  1. Adam Olive

    Adam Olive Puritan Board Freshman

    When or which popes did the Reformers see as causing the Catholic Church to go off the rails? Possibly a hard question in that their was a process. But what would you highlight to explain this generally not well known history from Gregory I to the Reformation (at least not well known to your average pew in a Protestant Church).
  2. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    With the eruption of the Great Schism in the 14th century, Wyclif came to see both claimants to the papacy as antichrists. By that time the abuses of the mediæval church were plain: indulgences, simony, politicization, outright butchery of opponents.

    But when was the line crossed? There was the pope's seizure of territorial power (756); there was his claim of supremacy over the church (1054); there was the pope's claim to be able to offer to remove sin with plenary indulgences (1095) (which was built on already rotten foundations). There's more -- it's a long list. As you've pointed out, it was a gradual process. I'm not aware of any Reformers who said when the line was crossed, only that the line was crossed, and in many places. I hope that someone more familiar with the writings of the Reformers will be able to shed some light on this.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
  3. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    You've said it as well as anyone. After the impropriety of introducing or settling into the situation of monarchical bishops generally (not just the preening dominance of the Roman bishop)--a very early unbiblical innovation, leading to other trouble--the rest of the story is a centuries-long, slow-motion collapse into many diverse failures, not all at once, not all of the same magnitude; until the whole thing was a morass of ungodliness and doctrinal failure, capped off by an almost total eclipse of the gospel.

    If anyone was saved under the late medieval administration of the church--and surely there were some, for God does not go without a remnant witness (and no, not simply outside the church in sectarian splinter groups)--they were saved in spite of the blindness imposed on them by the filth due to a lack of reformational purification. People were saved in spite of, not because of, the low levels to which the church had sunk.
  4. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    At the Council of Trent these errors became formalized and the Protestants were denounced as hell-bound. (if anyone affirms justification by faith alone, or sola scriptura, let him be anathema, etc).

    That is the point of no turning back for me because Catholics are bound to believe the Council of Trent as authoritative.

    Though, I believe that Catholics today can be saved through faith in Jesus Christ. God saves us all despite many errors and some Catholics have a saving faith and love towards Christ despite their damning system.
  5. Adam Olive

    Adam Olive Puritan Board Freshman

    These are the main 'badies' I've seen listed as having caused the papacy and the Roman Church to go down the wrong path. Any thoughts?

    Leo III

    Gregory VII (Hildebrand) (1073-1085)

    Innocent III (1198-1216)

    Leo X (1513-1521)

    Clement VII (1523-1534)
  6. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    In the 10th century it was known as "the P0rnocracy," so there's that.
    Paolo Squatriti, "Pornocracy", in Christopher Kleinhenz (ed.), Medieval Italy: An Encyclopedia, Vol. 2 (New York and London: Routledge, 2004), pp. 926–27.
  7. Hamalas

    Hamalas whippersnapper

    Calvin called Gregory the Great (540-604) "the last good Pope."
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  8. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    You have individual popes straying in faith and practice long before . . . Irenaeus rebuking the bishop of Rome (Victor c.189-98) who wanted to excommunicate the eastern church over the Easter controversy, pope Stephen (254-7) promoting papal primacy in controversy with Cyprian, Liberius (352-66) affirming Arianism, pope Honorius (625-638) was excommunicated by the Sixth Ecumenical Council over the heresy of Monotheletism, to name a few . . .

    Of course one must remember that there is no fact of history that is not subject to the death of a thousand qualifications in the hands of a Roman apologist.
  9. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    Indeed. GtG also spoke clearly to his own limits.
  10. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    We must also recognize even the best of prelates went off the rails at points. How many of us use Anselm’s prayers to Mary in our worship?
  11. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    The goodness or badness of any particular Pope does not do irreparable harm to the Papacy. There are false Protestant preachers as well, and yet this does not make the office of Pastor evil as a whole.

    Nor do the immoral lifestyles of some Popes ruin the office. We are seeing many Protestant pastors as well, for instance caught in adultery and child sexual abuse cases (though the high number of such cases must cause us to ask what is wrong, such as lack of accountability or the ordination of gay or sexually deviant priests).

    Though the Pope had erred long before, and though the very idea of one worldwide Bishop at the top of a hierarchy is an unbiblical office in the first place, the Pope was not necessarily the Antichrist in the beginning.

    The Council of Trent was held in direct opposition to the Reformation, and sealed the errors of the Papacy, and represents the point of no return.

    I am not sure of the early bishops of Rome who are now counted as Popes, some might be in heaven. But by the late Medieval period and especially after Trent, each and every Pope is to be considered Antichrist.

    The decrees of the Council of Trent are confirmed by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), and are also in the official “Catechism of the Catholic Church” - i.e. part of its official teaching.

    Any spiritual leader and any religious organization affirming those decrees is "off the rails" as the OP phrases it.
  12. Charles Johnson

    Charles Johnson Puritan Board Freshman

    I've heard some (not reformers but historicist commentators) call Leo I "the first Antichrist" because of his tyranny - he was the first to claim Roman primacy and to use the apparatus of the state to persecute and suppress his opponents. For them, tyranny is the distinguishing mark of the Antichrist.
  13. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    The pope could return quite easily. Repent, believe the Gospel and renounce pretended authority over the Church. :) All in a days work.
  14. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    No, I think Stephen beat him to the punch in his dispute with Cyprian over baptism.
  15. Charles Johnson

    Charles Johnson Puritan Board Freshman

    Where can I read more about this?
  16. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    Well, I suppose there are any number of places on the web, but if you wish simply read the letters of Cyprian that address this controversy with pope Stephen. Here's a sample below . . . he's speaking of Stephen as if he's speaking to him . . . Read the whole letter - it's too long to cite here . . .

    Cyprian (c. 200-58): Consider with what want of judgment you dare to blame those who strive for the truth against falsehood. For who ought more justly to be indignant against the other?—whether he who supports God’s enemies, or he who, in opposition to him who supports God’s enemies, unites with us on behalf of the truth of the Church?—except that it is plain that the ignorant are also excited and angry, because by the want of counsel and discourse they are easily turned to wrath; so that of none more than of you does divine Scripture say, “A wrathful man stirreth up strifes, and a furious man heapeth up sins.” For what strifes and dissensions have you stirred up throughout the churches of the whole world! Moreover, how great sin have you heaped up for yourself, when you cut yourself off from so many flocks! For it is yourself that you have cut off. Do not deceive yourself, since he is really the schismatic who has made himself an apostate from the communion of ecclesiastical unity. For while you think that all may be excommunicated by you, you have excommunicated yourself alone from all; and not even the precepts of an apostle have been able to mould you to the rule of truth and peace, although he warned, and said, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.” ANF: Vol. V, The Epistles of Cyprian, Epistle 74, §24, p. 396. (This is Epistle 75 in the Migne Corpus)
    Latin text: Vide qua imperitia reprehendere audeas eos qui contra mendacium pro veritate nituntur. Quis enim justius indignari contra alterum debuit? utrumne qui hostes Dei asserit, an vero qui adversus eum qui hostes Dei asserit pro Ecclesiae veritate consentit? Nisi quod imperitos etiam animosos atque iracundos esse manifestum est, dum per inopiam consilii et sermonis ad iracundiam facile vertuntur, ut de nullo alio magis quam de te dicat Scriptura divina: Homo animosus parat lites, et vir iracundus exaggerat peccata. Lites enim et dissensiones quantas parasti per Ecclesias totius mundi? Peccatum vero quam magnum tibi exaggerasti, quando te a tot gregibus scidisti! Excidisti enim te ipsum. Noli te fallere; siquidem ille est vere schismaticus qui se a communione ecclesiasticae unitatis apostatam fecerit: dum enim putas omnes a te abstineri posse, solum te ab omnibus abstinuisti. Nec te informare ad regulam veritatis et pacis vel Apostoli praecepta potuerunt monentis et dicentis: Obsecro ergo vos ego vinctus in Domino, digne ambulare vocatione qua vocati estis, cum omni humilitate sensus et lenitate, cum patientia sustinentes invicem in dilectione, satis agentes servare unitatem spiritus in conjunctione pacis; unum corpus, et unus spiritus, sicut vocati estis in una spe vocationis vestrae. Unus Dominus, una fides, unum baptisma, unus Deus et pater omnium, qui super omnes, et per omnia, et in omnibus nobis. Epistola Firmiliant, Episcopi Caesareae Cappadociae, ad Cyprianum contra Epistola Stephani, PL 3:1173B-1174B.
  17. ScottishPresbyterian

    ScottishPresbyterian Puritan Board Freshman

    It should be noted that the early presbyters of Rome were not called popes. The first to be given the title was Damasus I in the late 4th Century. Whether or not this continued in a steady line from him is not clear, but those the Romanists now refer to as popes from the 1st Century down to the 4th were never popes. The papacy did not exist then, although we know from Paul's letter to the Thessalonians that the mystery of iniquity was already working even in the 1st Century. But as he told them that the Roman Empire would 'let' (hinder) until it was taken out of the way, we can safely say that the office of the papacy proper did not begin until after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
  18. SeanPatrickCornell

    SeanPatrickCornell Puritan Board Freshman

    The Bishop of Rome wasn't even the only "Pope" of the ancient church, if I recall correctly. As I recall, "Pope" (Papa) was a title / honorific / "style of deference" that could have applied to several of the various Bishops in the 3rd / 4th Century.
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