Thursday, June 19, 2008

On Peter of Bruys, Henry of Lausanne, Claudius of Turin and other early Reformers

Someone very close to me queries my inclusion of some personalities among the early Reformers - e.g. Peter of Bruys, Henry of Lausanne, and Claudius of Turin.

For example, regarding Peter of Bruys he says "wasn't he an unsavoury character who was quite violent?".

Well, yes, he was and is considered an unsavoury and violent character - but only by Roman Catholics and their sympathisers - there is no evidence that he preached violence against people (though he certainly preached violence against idols) - violence was actually practiced AGAINST HIM by what became the Roman Catholic Church...

Regarding Henry of Lausanne and Claudius of Turin, the question that is raised is: whether it is right to include them among the "reformers" since the “Protestant Reformation” is generally thought to start only from 1519. Isn't it more accurate to call them "Pre-Reformers"?

My answer is that it is sympathisers with the Roman position who usually call such folk "Pre-Reformers".

My point of view is, briefly, that there were efforts to reform the united Western Church throughout its history - it was a contested space! - but the so-called "Reformation" (or, more precisely the "Magisterial Reformation") succeeded only because some reformers took up arms to resist the Romans and to establish a space free of Roman domination - and succeeded (though many of course did not succeed).

Eventually, it was the bits of the united church that turned their face permanently against reformation that became what is today called "The Roman Catholic Church".

So it is the (unreformable) Roman Church that starts in the 16th century, as well as the so-called “Protestant churches” (which are the Magisterial ones).

The "Radical Reformers" preceded the Magisterial reformers, suffered non-violently, and (some) eventually escaped to North America (though some of them later participated in or benefited from other forms of violence - e.g. against the Native Americans/ Canadians/ Latin Americans).

In any case, it was the radicals (Anabaptists, Amish, Mennonite and so on) who actually ended up doing the most in terms of faithfulness to the Bible, were spiritually effective, and ended up influencing first the Magisterials and then (marginally) the Romans....

The Radicals can be defined as those who not only took the Bible seriously as the only source of authority in spiritual matters but also (therefore) did not compromise with the power of the State

What about the Methodists and Presbyterians you may ask: well, they were primarily influenced by the Anabaptists et al (though also to some extent by the Magisterials, depending on which brand of Methodists and Presbyterians you mean)

The fundamental move towards reform in the church always came (and comes) ultimately from sources that can only be classified as Radical; the Magisterial-types basically sought to create a sort of "safe" compromise where state and church could co-exist (in this they were like the Romans - only in various ways more Biblical than the Romans to some extent or the other). Sphere: Related Content

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