The Protestant Heresy – by Hilaire Belloc

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Martin Luther and his 95 Theses at Wittenberg, Germany

What Was the Reformation?

The movement generally called “The Reformation” deserves a place apart in the story of the great heresies; and that for the following reasons:

1. It was not a particular movement but a general one, i.e., it did not propound a particular heresy which could be debated and exploded, condemned by the authority of the Church, as had hitherto been every other heresy or heretical movement. Nor did it, after the various heretical propositions had been condemned, set up (as had Mohammedanism or the Albigensian movement) a separate religion over against the old orthodoxy. Rather did it create a certain separate which we still call “Protestantism.” It produced indeed a crop of heresies, but not one heresy_and its characteristic was that all its heresies attained and prolonged a common savour: that which we call “Protestantism” today.

2. Though the immediate fruits of the Reformation decayed, as had those of many other heresies in the past, yet the disruption it had produced remained and the main principle_reaction against a united spiritual authority_so continued in vigour as both to break up our European civilization in the West and to launch at last a general doubt, spreading more and more widely. None of the older heresies did that, for they were each definite. Each had proposed to supplant or to rival the existing Catholic Church; but the Reformation movement proposed rather to dissolve the Catholic Church_and we know what measure success has been attained by that effort!

The most important thing about the Reformation is to understand it. Not only to follow the story of it stage by stage_a process always necessary to the understanding of any historical matter_but to grasp its essential nature.

On this last it is easy for modern people to go wrong, and especially modern people of the English-speaking world. The nations we English- speaking people know are, with the exception of Ireland, predominantly Protestant; and yet (with the exception of Great Britain and South Africa) they harbour large Catholic minorities.

In that English-speaking world (to which this present writing is addressed) there is full consciousness of what the Protestant spirit has been and what it has become in its present modification. Every Catholic who lives in that English-speaking world knows what is meant by the Protestant temper as he knows the taste of some familiar food or drink or the aspect of some familiar vegetation. In a less degree the large Protestant majorities_in Great Britain it is an overwhelming Protestant majority_have some idea of what the Catholic Church is. They know much less about us than we know about them. That is natural, because we proceed from older origins, because we are universal while they are regional and because we hold a definite intellectual philosophy whereas they possess rather an emotional and indefinite, though characteristic, spirit.

Still, though they know less about us than we know about them, they are aware of a distinction and they feel a sharp division between themselves and ourselves.

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The Early Church Fathers and the development of the King James Bible

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Q: Why did Erasmus [who derived “Textus Receptus”, the Greek text on which the KJV was based] have a special love for the early (Catholic) Church Fathers?

A: What began as a family dispute, primarily within the clergy (Luther’s theses) and soon progressed into a real split (the Protestant Reformation) has now turned into a heretical debacle that is nothing short of open, popular apostasy.

The text of the original 1611 King James Bible is remarkably Catholic in most of what it contains. Only in later revisions were  more and more “unpopular” (Catholic) concepts removed. Erasmus comes down firmly on the side of the Catholic Church in his fidelity to essential Catholic doctrines, in his veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, his understanding of the Communion of  Saints, and many other matters that might today be considered hopelessly “papist”. 

Erasmus got these concepts from the teachings of the Church Fathers, and from the ancient and authentic doctrines of the Catholic Church, which have not changed, since the beginning.     

Writings of the Early Church Fathers Collection

Additional Writings

While it can be easily proved that the Catholic Church has through the ages, faithfully maintained the teachings of Christ and the apostles, it is also clear that many of the denominations have chased after strange doctrines, and have continued to diverge more and more from the authentic faith, to the point that many who belong to today’s denominations have never really heard the truth.

Since its’ inception, protestantism has been purely theoretical, having no practical, face-to face experience with God and Christ at all, so it’s no wonder that protestants often fail to recognize Jesus’ authentic truth, when they are confronted with it.

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