Home > dispensationalism, doctrines, eschatology, Worldview > What the Reformers Did Not Reform

What the Reformers Did Not Reform

It is so well-established, beyond excuse, that Luther and Calvin did not reform eschatology, or ecclesiology, but just imported those ideas from Catholicism. How ironic that now the “truly reformed” act just as arrogant, appealing to church history and tradition, as “the Establishment” of Roman Catholicism did to the reformers years ago.

This statement, from a recent online discussion and then posted on one person’s Facebook status, brought about some rather interesting, though predictable, responses from some of those “truly reformed” individuals who reject dispensationalism.  Their responses show only continued unbelief, which is beyond excuse, and ignorance of both history and theology.

One response:  the Reformers did reform eschatology.  They got rid of purgatory, and Wikipedia says that purgatory is part of eschatology.  Leaving aside the lack of credibility for their source (Wikipedia and similar sites), consider just what purgatory really involved:  not “the afterlife” or “last things” but a works-based salvation system, which is part of soteriology and not eschatology.  The whole purpose of purgatory is to provide a works-based way for the works-based sinner to gain (by works) salvation and go to heaven.

Another response:  the Reformers did reform ecclesiology.  They departed from the Catholic church system.  Again how ridiculous a claim.  Leaving one church-state system, and then setting up a new (Protestant) church with the same ecclesiastical model of a church-state (even continuing infant baptism and keeping the government and church firmly together), is not reforming ecclesiology.

The next response:  why can’t you just accept that the Reformers did study eschatology, and through their own study and exegesis they came to the amillennialist conclusions?
Answer:  because they didn’t.  Luther and Zwingli both considered the book of Revelation as non-canonical.  Zwingli preached at his local church through every New Testament book–except the book of Revelation.  John Calvin did not reject Revelation from the canon, yet he wrote commentaries on every New Testament book except Revelation.  Calvin further thought premillennialism meant that eternity only lasts for 1000 years and dismissed that as an absurdity.

For an overview look at actual church history, and the beginnings of replacement theology, amillennialism and Covenant Theology, refer to this previous blog.

  1. Bob Brewster
    August 11, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Calvin and Luther (while very courageous) only pointed to some of the atrocities of Catholicism. They only served to establish ecclesiological systems that continue to bear some of the marks of Catholicism.
    More Contemporary writers like John Quincy Adams, Philip Mauro, and B. H. Carroll, pointed out that Jesus Christ was the only true reformer. He made the complete Spherical whole of God’s Will found in Scripture, that we know as the Old Testament which had been sat upon and totally distorted by man, into the beautiful gift to be presented to The Bride at the Great Marriage Feast. Reformation that is not complete in some ways can be worse than no reformation at all for it reeks of false security. Though none of us are perfect, can I say that my doctrine is better than yours because mine has been partially reformed? We must make every effort to search out God’s Will.

  2. August 14, 2011 at 1:04 am

    That’s quite a thought to consider…that the Reformers didn’t preach Revelation. I sometimes wonder if they did, would they have landed on a more Dispensational Premilliennial conclusion through deep study of it and considering the historical-grammatical context.

  3. August 15, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Yes, it is interesting to consider, that if they had taken the time to study it, and in a consistent literal historical-grammatical approach, how different church history since then would have been. Instead, the successive generations stopped there, at this “tradition” of the Reformers rather than continue Reforming.

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