Joseph Martos
Part Two of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 1
by Dr. Joe Martos - Friday, 17 February 2012, 1:49 AM
Compare this assessment of the Protestant reformation with your previous understanding of the origins of Protestantism. Do you think it is possible that the Protestants and Catholics were both right about the sacraments from their respective points of view? Explain your answer.
Picture of arnetta sims
Re: Part Two of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 1
by arnetta sims - Monday, 16 July 2012, 6:50 PM

After listening to Dr. Martos lecture on the Protestant reformation I was truly enlightened. My understanding of this reformation was those who rebelled were wrong for questioning Church authority. Since I have been educated to this movement I can truly say that the reformers had it right also.

I am having a problem now accepting the name "protestants", just because they raised issue to many corruptions within the Roman Catholic Church. For a better name they could have been named other Christians. I believe that the Church wanted to played down the position of the reformers by labeling them accordingly.

We have to realize that change flowed from those issues. A clear definition of the sacraments and the operations were established. A council came out of it which also demanded education and correction of the clergy.

The many monetary abuses of the Church were exposed from the root. The fresh winds of renewal blew in the Church. The missionary endeavors increased thus causing the Church to flourish.

The "Protestants" were able to establish directives and instructions for their religious concepts. Even though they only acknowledge two sacraments, yet their were still empowered with sacramental realities.

Protestants and Catholics were both right about the sacraments. Every element that both side argued for are a part of the sacramental experience and expression. The Bible is a source for divine inspiration and faith is said to be of works and beliefs. The combination of the two factors makes up for the theological explanation of the sacraments. I believe that since the Roman Catholic Church reviews and renews herself in corrections, she will one day taken in affect the other components of sacramental life.

GRADE 3 (Basically correct, with a few minor misunderstandings.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Monday, 9 July 2012, 08:18 PM)

Picture of Monica Okon
Re: Part Two of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 1
by Monica Okon - Monday, 16 July 2012, 6:58 PM
History of the church has always been one of my problems. This course is very beneficial to me personally because it has weaved in other aspects of the church history that is concerned not only with the sacraments, but other church’s teaching. Reformation is one of those areas that this course has tapped into. The origin of Protestantism is another area that has triggered my interest to explore more.

Frankly speaking, prior to reading the Doors to the Sacred, I have not for once thought about finding the root cause and foundation to our Protestant brothers and sisters. Some of the views I have about Protestants have been what I picked from people in passing. Others have come from my personal thoughts and conclusions about what Protestants do and don’t do in similarity and difference from Catholicism. For instance, I just thought, Protestants have always refused the doctrines and teachings of the Catholic Church. I also thought they are Protestants because they have always refused the authority of the Catholic Church. By that I mean they have refused the leadership of the Catholic Church. In relation to the Bible, I thought the Protestants read the Bible as if it was sent to us directly from God in the form we have it now. Other characteristics I usually attach to Protestantism include lively and long Sunday service in church, opposition to the teachings of the Catholic Church such as gestures of kneeling, standing and sitting during liturgies. Another doctrine I thought was the major reasons why Protestants could not agree is the doctrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Reading the Doors to the Sacred has opened my eyes to new insights and confirms some of my earlier thoughts. According to Martos,“Protestantism began as an attempt to reform the Catholic Church from within” (77). This means there were good intentions towards the reformation of the church at least at that initial stage of the middle ages. I think there was need for church renewal and updates at this point, but unfortunately, some people did not see that need as urgent. If I understand it well, there were protests in France “Against the immorality and worldliness of the clergy” (77). Excommunication and murder as means of stopping heretics and insubordinations does not make sense to me especially at this point in our beliefs that we talk about the dignity and value of human life. Literarily it seems the main cause of Protestantism include preaching against greediness, abuses and immorality. Now I know that there was need for reformation, but since it did not come from those in authority at the time, it could not be effective. I must testify that this mentality can still be found in some part of the world among Catholic leaders.

To show there was need for reformation, it is reported that, nine councils were held and this was possible because the suggestion came from the leaders of the hierarchy of the church. The nine councils did not last but it was better than doing nothing at all. For example we are told that, it dealt, “primarily with clerical and political abuses,” (78) even though those concerned did not take it seriously. These malpractices went on for a long time, unchallenged and unchanged, but gradually the cultural and social conditions in the European countries were beginning to change. The emergence of modernism through the influence of the medieval scholasticism gave rise to civilization. People could read more and have different views about ideas and principles. The result is what is called “a new birth of culture and renaissance” (78). The new age enabled Luther to challenge the Catholic Church and refer to their theology as unintelligible. For him the catholic theology was unscriptural, corrupt, filled with superstition. The attack lunched by Luther caused him to be excommunicated. This is how Luther’s reformation stated.

The assessment I can give to the protestant reformation especially in connection with the sacraments would be that, they were not completely wrong. In the first place, there is no one above mistakes. In this case I’ll like to borrow the words from Martos who acknowledged that, “His evangelical theology won the support of the laity, his call for reform won the support of the lower clergy and support of the nobility” (79). On the other hand “Rome regarded the attack as rebellion against tradition and a breaking away from the church while the reformers saw it as a renewal of the church and breaking away from Rome. This is the point that enables me to say that both the protestant and Catholics were rights and they were equally wrong.

The Catholic Church was wrong because there was a long delay in responding to the issues brought up by the reformers such as corruption, greediness, and abuses. The reformers were wrong mainly because in the cause of breaking away, they lost most of the sacramental practices while some were abolished and over-simplified. They refused to work with the authority of the church and had no trust on sacramental practices and authority. It was not wrong to turn to the Bible, but even the Bible needs authority for proper interpretation. They were also right when they said there are only two sacraments -- communion and baptism -- because the definition in the scholastic era shows sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ. In this understanding, there are only two sacraments that met that description. For them to say the Catholic theology on the sacraments was unscriptural does not sound completely true because at this time efforts were being made to interpret the sacraments in light of the scriptures. It may not have been perfect, but efforts were being made. What did the Catholic Church gain from these events? Standard was set for the sacramental practices and administration. For example, “the council affirmed what it saw as the traditional teachings of the church and denounced those recent developments that it saw as heretical. I am interested in the tradition aspect because these few weeks of studies have shown that sacraments did not drop from heaven to us. To lose sight of the gradual development of the sacramental theology from human experience, rituals, and symbols to the point where we are now it to lose its true understanding. Counter Reformation by the Catholic Church reaffirmed the scholastic teaching on the sacraments and set the record straight. The strict guidance or high standard set as a result of this counter reformation in the council of Trent, the changes lasted for a long time. From then onward, there was seminary training for priests, priestly ministry description, superstitions were abolished, and sacrament brought people closer to God and allowed them to be members of the church. For both Catholics and Protestants, reformation and Counter Reformation gave birth to renewal, restoration affirmation, and importance of the sacraments to the Christians.

GRADE 5 (Displays expansion of horizons and depth of understanding.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Wednesday, 11 July 2012, 12:21 AM)

Picture of Eileen Rettig
Re: Part Two of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 1
by Eileen Rettig - Monday, 16 July 2012, 7:04 PM

As a lover of history, especially of the medieval period, I already had a good background in the events that led to the Protestant reformation. Politics had as much to do with Luther’s establishment of a new method of Christian worship as did the abuses within the Roman Church. What I did find enlightening was the explanation of the various viewpoints on sacraments found among the reformers. As a teenager and young adult I tended to relegate all Protestants to the same general category. I did not understand why the Church still referred to them as “heretics” since my friends were Presbyterian, Episcopalian or Methodist for the same reason I was Catholic…that was the religion of their parents. How could my friends be held responsible for the decision of their parents or grandparents or great grandparents, etc.?

In looking at the respective points of view between the Catholic and Protestant ideas of the sacraments I think they all have something to offer the believer. From the lecture and previous reading it appears that the Christianity of the late middle ages grew stale. An illiterate population, a poorly educated clergy and a hierarchy that appeared to be more involved in politics and wealth-building fostered this lack of involvement in sacramental life. To use a more contemporary phase, the people of the late middle ages did not feel invested in the ecclesial sacraments of the Church. The three primary Protestant views of sacramental theology presented by Martos demonstrate the difference in personalities found across populations. Each has a major strength and also a weakness.

Luther devised a theology very close to the scholastic theology of the high middle ages. He also included the individual’s involvement in the sacrament. God acts through human faith. The person receiving the sacrament must believe something is happening. A personal investment in the ritual is a necessary component in receiving the grace of the sacrament. John Calvin had a broader view of God’s gift to the human race. He held that God is continuously present in the world and the sacrament was a vehicle whereby the person recognizes God’s presence. Zwingli maintained that grace was a free gift of the Holy Spirit and the sacraments were the social equivalent of a person affirming that free gift. It is ironic that in my opinion all three were partially right in their theology.

God’s grace is a free gift of the Holy Spirit. It is always available to us. As Catholics we talk about the Gift of Faith. To those of us baptized as infants the gift is given then but for an adult to come to the Christian Faith (any denomination) the Holy Spirit must have imparted the grace of Faith even without formal baptism. The sacrament of Baptism is an affirmation of the gift of Faith, but it is not just a social sign; that is what led to the staleness of the Catholic sacraments in the first place. God is continuously present in the world but the sacraments are not just convenient reminders of God’s presence. In the Catholic view they enable those who take part in the sacrament to receive some extra grace specific to the sacrament. In the sacrament of matrimony the couple is to receive the graces needed to enable them to maintain their vows to each other. Finally, God does act in our lives, but as in the above mentioned case of the gift of Faith that would start a person on the journey to Christianity, does the person’s faith give him/her the gift of Faith or is the impulse to begin the journey a free gift from God.

In conclusion, I maintain that each of the three reformers were valid in their sacramental theology as far as they went. Unfortunately, the corruption and ennui was so entrenched in the Roman Church that it took the drastic steps of splits both theologically and politically for the reforms that were necessary to even begin.

GRADE 4 (Detailed and well organized.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Wednesday, 11 July 2012, 04:58 PM)

Picture of Tim Talbott
Re: Part Two of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 1
by Tim Talbott - Saturday, 14 July 2012, 2:56 AM
Good post Eileen. I think its important to point out though, that while Protestants of today are not heretics, Protestantism is heretical. We give ourselves a hard time about the "Dark Ages". However, in terms of history this was a short period of time. If it weren't for the Catholic Church, the world would have never come out of the "Dark Ages."
Picture of Tim Talbott
Re: Part Two of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 1
by Tim Talbott - Monday, 16 July 2012, 7:09 PM

It is certainly true that the Protestant Reformation began as an attempt to reform the Church from within. Acknowledging the fact that some drastic changes needed to be made is where I depart from agreement with the logic. In respect to history, the Middle Ages were a short period of time. Yes it took a long time for reform to come after the reformation, but it always does. Not to mention the fact of the pace of life back then was infinitely slower.

I have previously read much of what was presented on Martin Luther in the text. One point which I read, and have noted before, was the mention of his scrupulosity. From my best attempt to view the situation in a rational, unbiased manner, I see a red flag in the manner that he began to develop his thinking which ultimately led to his abandoning the Faith. A man who despairingly doubts God’s forgiveness of his sins, yet “discovers” the answer which begins to unlock all that is and has been wrong with Church practice and theology, in one verse in the Bible, gives me pause.

Now, at this point, I truly can say that if you have an earnest disagreement or conviction, then it would be necessary to attempt to make it known and sort it out. However, as so many criticize the Church for not “listening”, when they mean not caving in, it does not seem practical or rational to me that they necessarily should have. No company, military, organization, club, or any other sort of group can survive without some sort of governance. What classroom could a teacher actually teach in where every student is allowed to stand up and say what they want and in effect claim that they know more than the instructor? Now it is possible, that on some point the teacher may have misspoken, or was even flat out incorrect. It would not necessarily follow, however, that the book is wrong, or the program/ department is wrong, or the school is wrong. Of course no analogy would do justice to the gravity or magnitude of the Faith. However, for me, it is necessary to say that although God brought good out of the reformation, the reformers were not right to leave the Church.

This does not mean that we look down on, or have disdain for our Protestant brothers and sisters. Our biggest hope should be that they will come back into full communion with the Church. However, having an "I’m okay, you’re okay" approach does not facilitate this. In this, I do not believe that we can both be right about the Sacraments. Did some of the reformers have good intentions and possibly even insightful thoughts regarding the Sacraments during their time? Yes, perhaps this is so. This time in general was still a time of developing theology. However, with the understanding that the Spirit will always guide the Church, it could never be the right thing to leave the Church. If the reformers had stayed, who knows what impact they may have had on the Church. I think of the example of Martin Luther King. He never gave up trying to reform his country and the awesome things are still being accomplished on the groundwork he laid.

GRADE 3 (Could show more appreciation for the connection between experience and understanding.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Friday, 13 July 2012, 10:36 PM)

Picture of Marvin Fitchett
Re: Part Two of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 1
by Marvin Fitchett - Sunday, 29 July 2012, 12:03 PM

A comparison of the Protestant’s and Catholic Church’s view of the sacraments during the reformation shall be performed. In this venture, an illustration will be drawn to show the similarity and differences of the Protestant’s and the Catholic Church’s perspective regarding the theological sacraments.

Initially, the Reformists began to rise up against the Catholic Church due to abuses surrounding the sacraments. Those abuses involved indulgences, and they were associated with the sacrament of penances. The Catholic clergy started out with harsh punishment of believers to re-enter the community as their acts of penance. Next, the abuse escalated to Catholic clergy taking money in exchange as special indulgences. Then, the clergy began selling indulgences to cover the sins of individuals.

One of the chief Protestant Reformist was Martin Luther, and his dispute with the Catholic Church centered round the abuse of the indulgences. The Catholic clergy’s participation in the abuse signaled the difference between the Protestant’s and Catholic sacramental beliefs. It became noticeable to Martin Luther the sacramental power of the sacraments could not prevent or curtail the escalation of the abuse of the indulgences, so Luther concluded, the sacraments themselves were ineffective. Luther’s view establishes the differing views, where the reformers announce their beliefs about the sacraments on the authority of the Holy Scriptures, and the Catholic Church maintained their traditional position of the sacramental theology which was developed from the patristic fathers.

Luther presented the concept that the Holy Scriptures spoke to the heart and conscience of an individual resulting in personal revelation and experience with the sacred. Whereas, the Catholic Church declared it was a metaphysical experience, where God spoke through the church to its members.

Additionally, there were other reformers, Calvin and Zwingli, who preserve the Protestant’s sacramental views. John Calvin’s sacramental theology was centered on the concept that the sacraments were testaments to remind the participants of the grace of God. Next, Ulrich Zwingli sacramental premise involved the believer’s faith to receive God’s salvation. As the believer participates in the Christian social signs of belief, or their sacraments, they were reminded of their personal involvement with God because of their faith. The views of Calvin and Zwingli are unlike the Catholic Church.

In light of the aforementioned sacramental differences, the Protestants and Catholics possessed some sacramental similarities. The Protestant affirm the Holy Scriptures as the foundation authority for their beliefs (ordinances) and similarly the Catholic Church teaching authority was based on God’s word. They both referred to the scriptures for their foundational authority. When sacramental theology enters the discussion, we find that two of the seven Catholic sacraments are similar. The Protestant’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper ordinances and the Catholic Church Eucharist and baptism sacraments are identical in their origin. They both recognized the Lord Jesus as the individual instituting the Protestant ordinances and Catholic sacraments. Finally, the Protestants and the Catholics used similar sacramental gesture, and acts in administering their rites or rituals. During their worship services, Protestants and Catholics declared God’s word to their congregations, used prayer, and they performed the act of laying hands on their members.

Although, there are notable differences between the Protestant and Catholic believers, there are similarities in the primary sacraments and sacramental practices. The similarities between the two faith communities can be launch point to build relationship and strength the Community of Jesus Christ.

Grade 2 (Could have described theological positions more accurately. Needed to show why both sides thought they were right.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Thursday, 26 July 2012, 07:09 PM)