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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Wycliffe is called the "Morning Star of the Reformation" by Andy Thomson.[1]
Luther Monument in Worms, including Protestant forerunners such as Girolamo Savonarola, Jan Hus and Peter Waldo[2]

Proto-Protestantism, also called pre-Protestantism, refers to individuals and movements that propagated various ideas later associated with Protestantism before 1517, which historians usually regard as the starting year for the Reformation era. The relationship between medieval sects and Protestantism is an issue that has been debated by historians.[3]

Successionism is the further idea that these proto-Protestants are evidence of a continuous hidden church of true believers, despite their manifest differences in belief.

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  • Introduction to the Protestant Reformation: Varieties of Protestantism



Before Martin Luther and John Calvin, some leaders tried to reform Christianity. The main forerunners of the Protestant Reformation were Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe and Jan Hus.[4] Martin Luther himself saw it important to have forerunners of his views, and thus he praised people like Girolamo Savonarola, Lorenzo Valla, Wessel Gansfort and other groups as prefiguring some of his views.[5][6][7][8][9]

Claimed to have prefigured Protestantism

Pre-reformation movements that have been argued, with differing degrees of anachronism and accuracy, as having individual ideas later espoused by some Protestant groups include:

  • Byzantine Iconoclasm: this was a movement within the Eastern Church that gained imperial support in the 8th century from Leo III the Isaurian (685 – 741) and some later emperors. They eliminated religious icons, with some violence, possibly influenced by Islam.[10] Protestant Iconoclasts looked back to the Byzantine iconoclasts to justify their assault on religious image.[11] Protestants in the reformation used the same Biblical and Patristic texts used by the Byzantines in the 8th and 9th centuries, to condemn religious images.[12]
  • Claudius of Turin: Claudius of Turin was the Bishop of Turin; because of his iconoclasm, he is often seen as proto-Protestant.[13] His commentary on the Epistle to Galatians shows some of his views prefigure those expressed by both the Waldensians and Protestants centuries later. Claudius in his writings, maintained that faith is the only requirement for salvation, denies the supremacy of Peter, sees praying for the dead to be useless, attacked practices of the church and held the church to be fallible.[14][15]
  • Gottschalk of Orbais: Gottschalk was a 9th-century Saxon theologian who was condemned for heresy, due to his teachings on predestination and that Christ's redemption was only for the elect. The grace views of Gottschalk mirror the Protestant sola fide doctrine.[16][17][18]
  • Ratramnus: Ratramus was a theologian who died in 868. Ratramus believed that the Eucharist is merely symbolic, thus rejecting the real presence of the Eucharist. Ratramnus also believed in single predestination. The writings of Ratramus influenced Protestant theologians and contributed to the later Reformation.[19]
  • Ælfric of Eynsham: Protestants have appealed to Ælfric of Eynsham as evidence for the English church not believing transubstantiation, because of his book: Sermo de sacrificio in die pascae where he defines the Eucharist.[20]
  • Berengar of Tours: Berengar of Tours (c.1005-1088), was a forerunner of the reformation. Berengar of Tours argued against transubstantiation, saying that it is against logic and the Bible, and taught that the body and blood were not "real" in the Eucharist.[21][22][23]
  • Albigenses: the Albigenses were a religious group, that first appeared in Western Europe around the first half of the 11th century, and were earlier called Cathars.[24] The Cathars denied the Incarnation, Resurrection, Trinity and held to dualist ideas. The inclusion of the Cathars or Albigenses as a Protestant forerunner has been a matter of controversy, some people in the past attempting to justify the Albigensians as Protestants have even argued against them being dualist, however without much evidence.[3] There is a degree of confusion about the Albigensians, as they are sometimes lumped with their contemporaries the Waldensians, an unrelated movement. Further, centuries later, "Albigensian" was used as a slur for the unrelated Huguenots.[3]
  • Bosnian Church: Also called Krstjani, they denied the power of the Pope and were excommunicated by both the eastern and western churches. Some have claimed that the Bosnian church is an early pre-reformist church.[25][26][27]
  • Pataria: The Pataria were an 11th-century group in northern Italy, that was against corruption in the church.[28]
  • Tanchelm: Tanchelm was a 12th-century preacher who rejected the structure of the Catholic church.[28]
  • Peter Abelard: Peter Abelard was a Frenchman in around the year 1100, he sought to include human reason as one of the ways to understand the meaning of scripture, instead of believing everything the church declares without question. He was condemned as a heretic, and his books were burned.[29] Novelist and Abelard scholar George Moore referred to Abelard as the "first protestant" prior to Martin Luther.[30]
  • Peter of Bruys: was a French reformer who fought against the Catholic church, he rejected infant baptism and religious images.[31]
  • Henry of Lausanne: Henry of Lausanne preached in France and his followers were called Henricans, Henry condemned Catholic clergy for their wealth.[28]
  • Arnold of Brescia: Arnold of Brescia attacked the Catholic bishops for their wealth, he was hanged in 1155.[28]
  • Waldensians: Waldensians were a 12th-century movement often viewed as a precursor to the Reformation. The Waldensians did not practice infant baptism and they rejected the use of indulgences; the Waldensians also denied transubstantiation. The Waldensians wanted to follow Jesus in poverty and simplicity. The Waldensians later joined the Protestant reformation.[32][3] The Waldensian movement was started by Peter Waldo, they contested the institution of the papacy and the wealth of the church, however they still took part in the sacraments of the Catholic church.[33]
  • Fraticelli: the Fraticelli or Spiritual Franciscans were an extreme group of the Franciscans in the 13th century. The Fraticelli influenced later Protestant mystics.[34]
  • Marsilius of Padua: Marsilius (born in 1270ad) is sometimes called a forerunner of the reformation. Marsilius believed that the only source of truth for a Christian are the scriptures, and he rejected the ultimate authority of the church. Marsilius believed that obedience to papal decrees is not necessary for salvation, and he believed the Papal system to be of human arrangement and not divine. The beliefs of Marsilius were largely in agreement with the Protestant reformers.[35]
  • William of Ockham: Ockhamite philosophy influenced Luther and Protestant philosophy. Luther conveyed the ethnical philosophy of Ockham into Protestantism.[36][37] Ockham's stress on scripture anticipates Protestant views and some see him as a proto-Protestant.[38]
  • Thomas Bradwardine: Thomas was an English man and a teacher at Oxford. Bradwardine believed in the doctrine of predestination, Thomas died in 1349.[39]
  • Gregory of Rimini: Gregory of Rimini (1300 – November 1358) was an Italian theologian; his teachings influenced later Protestant Reformers. Rimini believed in the human inability to lead a moral life without divine grace, and in predestination.[40]
  • Friends of God: Friends of God or Gottesfreunde were a 14th-century Christian group in Germany, some of the leaders of the movement were executed for their criticism of the Catholic church, the movement foreshadowed the Protestant reformation. The Gottesfreunde movement was a democratic lay movement that stressed piety, devotion and holiness.[41]
  • Petrarch: Many Scholars have regarded Petrarch as a proto-Protestant who challenged the Pope's dogma.[42][43][44][45][46]
  • Strigolniki: The strigolniki were a 14th-century movement in Russia that were against monasteries, the upper clergy and they perhaps were iconoclastic.[47] There is some debate if the strigolniki were similar to Protestantism or more "heretical".[48]
  • Lollardy: Lollardy was a 14th-century movement that stressed the importance of scripture, denied transubstantiation and rejected the system of the papacy. They were said to have taught the absolute sufficiency of scripture, maintaining it as the ultimate authority. They provided the view as an alternative to viewing the Church as an authority.[49] The movement was started by John Wycliffe and its doctrine anticipated those found in the Protestant Reformation.[50]
  • Hussites: Hussites were a 15th-century group in Bohemia, founded by Jan Hus, who was influenced by the writings of John Wycliffe.[51][52] Jan Hus attacked indulgences and believed the scriptures to be the only authority for every man.[53]
    • Taborites: Taborites were a faction of the Hussite movement, they denied transubstantiation, veneration of saints, prayers for the dead, indulgences, confession to clergy and renounced oaths.[54]
    • Utraquists: Ultraquists insisted on communion under two kinds, apostolic poverty, "free preching of the gospel" and the use of Czech in scripture reading.[55]
  • Lorenzo Valla: Lorenzo Valla broke loose from an infallible church tradition and thus some call him a Protestant forerunner and prefigured some teachings of the reformation. Luther himself praised Lorenzo Valla.[9][56]
  • Johannes von Goch: Goch asserted that the Bible is the supreme authority on doctrine, perhaps taught that faith alone is enough for salvation and questioned monasticism.[57]
  • Johann Ruchrat von Wesel: Johann attacked indulgences and rejected priesty celibacy and papal authority; he believed in predestination and in the church invisibile, and believed that the Scriptures are the only trustworthy authority.[58]
  • John of Wessel: John of Wessel attacked indulgences, rejected the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, Wessel believed that the pope and councils can err and laid stress on the faith of the recipient of the sacraments.[7][59] While some Catholics have claimed that the identification of John of Wessel with Protestantism "exaggerates the similarities".[60]
  • Johannes Geiler von Kaysersverg: Born in 1445, Johannes was concerned for moral reform in Strasbourg, and preached about God's justice. His reforms laid groundwork for the later Protestant reform in Strasbourg.[61]
  • Girolamo Savonarola was an Italian preacher and reformer, he was born in 1452 and died in 1498. Historians believe that Girolamo Savonarola influenced Luther, and possibly also John Calvin.[62] Despite having many beliefs that align with Roman Catholicism, Savonarola believed in divine grace, such as Protestants do. Savonarola declared, that good works are not a cause of predestination but result of predestination.[8] His followers were called the Piagnoni.[63] Savonarola never abandoned the dogmas of the Roman Catholic church, however his protests against papal corruption, reliance on the Bible as the main guide link Savonarola with the reformation.[64] Although some dispute the inclusion of Girolamo Savonarola as a proto-Protestant.[65]
  • Pico della Mirandola: Pico della Mirandola published 900 theses against Rome, where he argued that "this is my body" must be seen symbolically and that no images should be adored. Pico was also an admirer of Girolamo Savonarola.[9]
  • Johann Reuchlin: Johann Reuchlin was a scholar, who got his master's decree in 1477, and later went through other studies.[66] When the reformation had begun, he never left the Catholic church but was suspected of leaning towards reformation ideas.[67] Later his grandnephew, Melanchthon joined the Protestant reformation.[66]
  • Johannes von Staupitz: Johannes was born in 1460 and served as Luther's superior in the Augustinian order, Staupitz stressed the doctrine of unconditional election.[68]
  • Faber Stapulensis: Faber was a forerunner of Luther in France, and anticipated the doctrine of justification by faith.[9] Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples wrote commentaries on the Bible which influenced Martin Luther.[69]
  • Erasmus: Erasmus was born only 20 years before Luther in the Netherlands and produced the Latin and Greek New Testament that the Reformers used for their vernacular translations. He sought thorough-going moral and institutional reform, and doctrinal tolerance through simplification, education and biblicism, though not doctrinal revolution or violence. Erasmus initially defended Luther when Luther was in trouble with authorities; yet he felt that the doctrine of sola fide etc. was not supported in the bible in the simplistic way Luther proposed and that Luther's reforms verged on extremism and thus, unbiblical. Erasmus' contemporaries charged him with "laying the egg that Luther hatched".[70]


John Foxe (c. 1563) was the first English Protestant author to defend Protestantism from charges of novelty by claiming, in S.J. Barnett's words, "the continuity of a proto-Protestant piety since apostolic times": in England's case this included a national first-century conversion to Christianity from a visiting Joseph of Arimathea.[71] This has no historical basis.

According to Brethren missionary Edmund Hamer Broadbent in The Pilgrim Church (1531), over much of the Christian era, many Christian sects, cults and movements foreshadowed the teachings of what later became the Non-conformist Protestant movements.[72]

Baptist successionism

Timeline from 'The Trail of Blood'

Baptist successionism postulates an unbroken lineage of churches which have held beliefs similar to those of current Baptists. Groups often included in this lineage include the Montanists, Novationists, Donatists, Paulicians, Albigenses, Waldenses, Petrobrusians, Arnoldists, Henricians, Hussites (partly), Lollards (partly) and Anabaptists. Baptist successionism proposes that groups such as Bogomils or Paulicians were Baptist in doctrine instead of Gnostic.[73]


The idea of proto-protestants has been criticized as a diverse category whose only commonality is a perceived anti-Catholicism rather than any adherence to the Five Solae; the idea of successionism (or the hidden church) has further been criticized as lacking historical evidence, linking unrelated groups (e.g. the Manichaean Bogomil "Cathars", the Albigensian "Cathars", the semi-monastic Beguine movement, the antipapal fraticelli friars, the Trinitarian and eucharistic Waldenses,and the Lollards) and as fabricated to serve a polemical need.[71]

For the Catholic denial of the antiquity of the Waldensians and assertion of Petrine apostolicity, "the ideal parry to Rome would have been to identify apostolic origins for the Waldenses, but the evidence for such a claim was thin to nonexistent, a factor often necessarily limiting arguments in favor of apostolic origins to rather vague assertions."

— S.J.Barnett[71]

See also


  1. ^ Thomson, Andy (1988). Morning Star of the Reformation. Bob Jones University Press. ISBN 978-0-89084-453-3.
  2. ^ "Worms: world's largest Reformation Monument". Fotoeins Fotografie. 2017-05-15. Retrieved 2021-12-31.
  3. ^ a b c d Walther, Daniel (1968). "Were the Albigenses and Waldenses Forerunners of the Reformation?". Andrews University Seminary Studies. 6 (2).
  4. ^ "Forerunners of the Reformation". Musée protestant. Retrieved 2021-11-20.
  5. ^ Daniels, David D. "Honor the Reformation's African roots". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved 2022-01-28.
  6. ^ "Martin Luther and Ethiopian Christianity: Historical Traces | The University of Chicago Divinity School". Retrieved 2022-01-28.
  7. ^ a b "Philip Schaff: History of the Christian Church, Volume VI: The Middle Ages. A.D. 1294-1517 - Christian Classics Ethereal Library". Retrieved 2022-01-27.(test 3)
  8. ^ a b "Philip Schaff: History of the Christian Church, Volume VI: The Middle Ages. A.D. 1294-1517 - Christian Classics Ethereal Library". Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  9. ^ a b c d "Philip Schaff: History of the Christian Church, Volume VI: The Middle Ages. A.D. 1294-1517 - Christian Classics Ethereal Library". Retrieved 2021-12-23.
  10. ^ "Byzantine Empire – The age of Iconoclasm: 717–867". Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  11. ^ Schildgen, Brenda Deen (2008). "Destruction: Iconoclasm and the Reformation in Northern Europe". Heritage or Heresy: 39–56. doi:10.1057/9780230613157_3. ISBN 978-1-349-37162-4.
  12. ^ Herrin, Judith (2009-09-28). Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-14369-9.
  13. ^ Raaijmakers, Janneke (2017). "Claudius. Self-styling in early medieval debate: Self-styling in early medieval debate". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ Milner, Joseph. The History of the Church of Christ Volume 3. A comment on the epistle to the Galatians, is his only work which was committed to the press. In it he every where asserts the equality of all the apostles with St. Peter. And, indeed, he always owns Jesus Christ to be the only proper head of the church. He is severe against the doctrine of human merits, and of the exaltation of traditions to a height of credibility equal to that of the divine word. He maintains that we are to be saved by faith alone; holds the fallibility of the church, exposes the futility of praying for the dead, and the sinfulness of the idolatrous practices then supported by the Roman see. Such are the sentiments found in his commentary on the epistle to the Galatians.
  15. ^ F. L. Cross; E. A. Livingstone, eds. (13 March 1997). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd edition. USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 359. ISBN 0-19-211655-X.
  16. ^ "Gottschalk Of Orbais | Roman Catholic theologian". Retrieved 2021-10-27.
  17. ^ caryslmbrown (2017-07-18). "Reformation parallels: the case of Gottschalk of Orbais". Doing History in Public. Retrieved 2021-10-27.
  18. ^ Lockridge, Kenneth R. "Gottschalk "Fulgentius" of Orbais". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  19. ^ "Ratramnus | Benedictine theologian | Britannica". Retrieved 2021-11-21.
  20. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ælfric" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 255.
  21. ^ Minton, Gretchen E. (2014-01-26). John Bale's 'The Image of Both Churches'. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 978-94-007-7296-0. Berengar of Tours was an 11th-century theologian who argued that the doctrine of transubstantiation was contrary to reason and unsupported by scripture
  22. ^ Siebeck, Mohr (11 March 2016). Prophecy, Piety, and the Problem of Historicity: Interpreting the Hebrew. Germany. p. 372. ISBN 978-3-16-154270-1. Berengar of Tours (c. 1005-1088), Bernand of Clairvaux, the Waldensians in the twelfth century, the Albigensians in the thirteenth century and John Wycliffe (x. 1330-1385) and Jan Hus (c. 1370-1415) in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, are all prefigured in the poetic images of Solomon's Songs. They all become forerunners of Luther and Calvin{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  23. ^ Jung, Emma; Franz, Marie-Luise von (1998). The Grail Legend. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-00237-8. Berengar of Tours (first half og the eleventh century), whose views occasioned the dispute known as the Second Eucharistic Controversy. Berengar aught that the body and the blood of the Lord were no "real" in the Eucharist but a specific image or likeleness ("figuram quandam similitudinem"). He was thus a forerunner of the Reformers.
  24. ^ "Cathari | Christian sect". Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  25. ^ Markowitz, AvFran (2010). Sarajevo: A Bosnian Kaleidoscope.
  26. ^ Dedijer, Vladimir (1961). The Beloved Land. Simon & Schuster. But within a short time both Rome and Constantinople had excommunicated the Bosnian Church , which claimed to represent the true form of Christianity . ... The Bosnian faith was , in a way , the forerunner of the great Reformation
  27. ^ Bringa, Tone (2020-09-01). Being Muslim the Bosnian Way: Identity and Community in a Central Bosnian Village. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-5178-2. The Bosnian Church has, however, been described primarily as a heretic Catholic sect. It has furthermore been seen as a forerunner to the Protestants
  28. ^ a b c d Reddy, Mike Megrove (2017). "The forms of communication employed by the Protestant Reformers and especially Luther and Calvin" (PDF). Pharos Journal of Theology. 98. The Pre-Reformers: All groups that spoke out against the church were regarded as "heretical" groups. In the same light, the present-day church considers those individuals that questioned the church "doctrine" and "teachings" as heretics. McCallum (2002:n.p.) states that there were eight heretical groups of pre-reformers between the 12th and 15th centuries during the various European regions. McCallum 2002:n.p. mentions them as follows:
    • Flagellants were in 1259. They marched with only loincloths through the streets crying out to God to show mercy on them (McCallum 2002:n.p.). In 1349 they were condemned.
    • Then there was a variety of lay groups known as Beguines who had no specific set of forms (McCallum, 2002;n.p.). They were followers of Lambert le Begue who was a stammerer.
    • In the 12th century Tanchelm preached in the diocese of Utrecht. He denied the author of the pope and the church and attacked the structure of the Catholic Church (McCallum, 2002:n.p.).
    • Peter of Bruys in the 12th century also rejected christening of infants. He rejected prayers for the dead, the Eucharist veneration of the cross and ecclesiastical ceremonies (McCallum, 2002:n.p.).
    • In the first half of 12th century Henry of Lausanne preached in what is known as France. His followers were known as the Henricans. The clergy were condemned for the love of wealth and power by Henry of Lausanne (McCallum, 2002:n.p.).
    • The Adamists engaged in behaviour that was socially unacceptable and indulged in the practice of nude worship.
    • Arnold of Brescia wanted the church to follow Christian ideals (McCallum 2002:n.p.). He attacked the bishops for their dishonest gains. He was hanged in 1155 and his body was burned.
    • The Pataria, in Northern Italy were in reaction to the corruption which was taking place in the church. McCallum (2002:n.p.) states that the self-indulgent practices within the Roman Catholic Church were also opposed by other smaller movements.
  29. ^ dePrater, William A. (2015-03-25). God Hovered Over the Waters: The Emergence of the Protestant Reformation. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-4982-0454-5. (Chapter name: Forerunners of the Protestant Reformation) Despite the failure of the efforts atr a reformation of the church's governance, there were efforts to reform the church's theology and manner of faith. Yet the church was slow to change, Peter Aberlard, a Frenchmand sought to include human reason as one of the means of understanding the meanings of scripture.
  30. ^ O'Brien, Peggy. Heloise and Abelard. Irish Times.
  31. ^ Kim, Elijah Jong Fil (2012-04-06). The Rise of the Global South: The Decline of Western Christendom and the Rise of Majority World Christianity. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 201. ISBN 978-1-61097-970-2. Peter bruys became one of the earliest leaders of the Reformation, rejecting images, infant baptism,
  32. ^ "Waldenses | Description, History, & Beliefs". Retrieved 2021-10-27.
  33. ^ "Pierre Valdo (1140-1217) and the Waldenses". Musée protestant. Retrieved 2021-12-31.
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  36. ^ Covington, Jesse; McGraw, Bryan T.; Watson, Micah (2012-11-16). Natural Law and Evangelical Political Thought. Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0-7391-7323-7.
  37. ^ Ockham), William (of (2021-05-06). William of Ockham: Questions on Virtue, Goodness, and the Will William Ockham: Qstns Virt Gdn Will. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-108-49838-8.
  38. ^ McGregor, Peter John; Rowland, Tracey (2022-01-20). Healing Fractures in Contemporary Theology. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1-7252-6610-0.
  39. ^ dePrater, William A. (2015-03-25). God Hovered Over the Waters: The Emergence of the Protestant Reformation. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4982-0454-5. (Chapter name: Forerunners of the Protestant reformation) Bradwardine in his study of Augustinian theology came to an understanding of the doctrine of predestination as a positive affirmation of Gd's benevolent grace unto us.
  40. ^ "Gregory Of Rimini | Italian philosopher". Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  41. ^ "Friends of God | religious group | Britannica". Retrieved 2021-11-25.
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  43. ^ William J. Kennedy (2004). The Site of Petrarchism Early Modern National Sentiment in Italy, France, and England. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 3. ISBN 9780801881268.
  44. ^ Alessandra Petrina, ed. (2020). Petrarch's 'Triumphi' in the British Isles. Modern Humanities Research Association. p. 6. ISBN 9781781888827.
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  46. ^ Abigail Brundin (2016). Vittoria Colonna and the Spiritual Poetics of the Italian Reformation. Taylor & Francis. p. 10. ISBN 9781317001065.
  47. ^ Michalski, Sergiusz (2013-01-11). Reformation and the Visual Arts: The Protestant Image Question in Western and Eastern Europe. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-92102-7. in the middle of the fourteenth century the Strigolniki heresy broke out in Russia, chiefly in the cities in the north of the country, which gave this movement a proto-Reformation character
  48. ^ Belich, James (2022-07-19). The World the Plague Made: The Black Death and the Rise of Europe. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-22287-5.
  49. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Lollards". Retrieved 2024-01-29.
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  55. ^ "Philip Schaff: History of the Christian Church, Volume VI: The Middle Ages. A.D. 1294-1517 - Christian Classics Ethereal Library". Retrieved 2022-02-28.
  56. ^ "Lorenzo Valla | Italian humanist | Britannica". Retrieved 2022-01-27.
  57. ^ "Philip Schaff: History of the Christian Church, Volume VI: The Middle Ages. A.D. 1294–1517 – Christian Classics Ethereal Library". Retrieved 2021-11-14. John Pupper, 1400–1475, usually called John of Goch from his birthplace, a hamlet on the lower Rhine near Cleves, seems to have been trained in one of the schools of the Brothers of the Common Life, and then studied in Cologne and perhaps in Paris. He founded a house of Augustinians near Mecheln, remaining at its head till his death. His writings were not published till after the beginning of the Reformation. He anticipated that movement in asserting the supreme authority of the Bible. The Fathers are to be accepted only so far as they follow the canonical Scriptures. In contrast to the works of the philosophers and the Schoolmen, the Bible is a book of life; theirs, books of death.1167 He also called in question the merit of monastic vows and the validity of the distinction between the higher and lower morality upon which monasticism laid stress. What is included under the higher morality is within the reach of all Christians and not the property of monks only. He renounced the Catholic view of justification without stating with clearness the evangelical theory These three German theologians, Goch, Wesel and Wessel, were quietly searching after the marks of the true Church and the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone. Without knowing it, they were standing on the threshold of the Reformation.
  58. ^ "Philip Schaff: History of the Christian Church, Volume VI: The Middle Ages. A.D. 1294–1517 – Christian Classics Ethereal Library". Retrieved 2021-11-14. John Ruchrath von Wesel, d. 1481, attacked the hierarchy and indulgences and was charged on his trial with calling in question almost all the distinctive Roman Catholic tenets. He was born in Oberwesel on the Rhine between Mainz and Coblentz. He taught at the University of Erfurt and, in 1458, was chosen its vice-rector. Luther bore testimony to his influence when he said, "I remember how Master John Wesalia ruled the University of Erfurt by his writings through the study of which I also became a master."1169 Leaving Erfurt, he was successively professor in Basel and cathedral preacher in Mainz and Worms. In 1479, Wesel was arraigned for heresy before the Inquisition at Mainz.1170 Among the charges were that the Scriptures are alone a trustworthy source of authority; the names of the predestinate are written in the book of life and cannot be erased by a priestly ban; indulgences do not profit; Christ is not pleased with festivals of fasting, pilgrimages or priestly celibacy; Christ's body can be in the bread without any change of the bread's substance: pope and councils are not to be obeyed if they are out of accord with the Scriptures; he whom God chooses will be saved irrespective of pope and priests, and all who have faith will enjoy as much blessedness as prelates. Wesel also made the distinction between the visible and the invisible Church and defined the Church as the aggregation of all the faithful who are bound together by love—collectio omnium fidelium caritate copulatorum. In his trial, he was accused of having had communication with the Hussites. In matters of historical criticism, he was also in advance of his age, casting doubt upon some of the statements of the Athanasian Creed, abandoning the application of the term Catholic to the Apostles' Creed and pronouncing the addition of the filioque clause—and from the Son—unwarranted. The doctrines of indulgences and the fund of merit he pronounced unscriptural and pious frauds. The elect are saved wholly through the grace of God—sola Dei gratia salvantur electi. These three German theologians, Goch, Wesel and Wessel, were quietly searching after the marks of the true Church and the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone. Without knowing it, they were standing on the threshold of the Reformation.
  59. ^ "The forms of communication employed by the Protestant Reformers and especially Luther and Calvin" (PDF). Pharos Journal of Theology. 98. 2016. John of Wessel was one member in the group who attacked indulgences (Reddy 2004:115). The doctrine of justification by faith alone was the teaching of John of Wessel (Kuiper 1982:151). He rejected the doctrine of transubstantiation where it is believed when the priest pronounces the sacraments then the wine and bread in turned into the real body and blood of Christ
  60. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: John Wessel Goesport (Gansfort)". Retrieved 2022-01-27.
  61. ^ dePrater, William A. (2015-03-25). God Hovered Over the Waters: The Emergence of the Protestant Reformation. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4982-0454-5. (Chapter name: forerunners of the Protestant reformation) Yet his modest ethnical reforms would lay the grounwork for the later Protestant Reformation movement at Strasbourg.
  62. ^ "How did Savonarola influence the Reformation and Counter-Reformation –". Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  63. ^ "Italy - Savonarola | Britannica". Retrieved 2021-12-19.
  64. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Savonarola, Girolamo" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  65. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Girolamo Savonarola". Retrieved 2022-01-27.
  66. ^ a b dePrater, William A. (2015-03-25). "Forerunners of the Protestant reformation". God Hovered Over the Waters: The Emergence of the Protestant Reformation. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-4982-0454-5.
  67. ^ This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainRines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Reuchlin, Johann" . Encyclopedia Americana.
  68. ^ dePrater, William A. (2015-03-25). God Hovered Over the Waters: The Emergence of the Protestant Reformation. Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-1-4982-0454-5.
  69. ^ "Jacques Lefèvre d'Etaples (1450-1537)". Musée protestant. Retrieved 2021-12-31.
  70. ^ Little, Katherine (29 October 2019). "Before Martin Luther, there was Erasmus – a Dutch theologian who paved the way for the Protestant Reformation". The Conversation. Retrieved 2021-12-31.
  71. ^ a b c Barnett, S. J. (1999). "Where Was Your Church before Luther? Claims for the Antiquity of Protestantism Examined". Church History. 68 (1): 14–41. doi:10.2307/3170108. ISSN 0009-6407. JSTOR 3170108.
  72. ^ Broadbent, E.H. (1931). The Pilgrim Church. Basingstoke: Pickering & Inglis. ISBN 0-7208-0677-1.
  73. ^ Hisel, Berlin (2017). Baptist History Notebook.

Further reading

  • Barnett, S. J. (1999). "Where Was Your Church before Luther? Claims for the Antiquity of Protestantism Examined". Church History. 68 (1). Cambridge University Press: 14–41. doi:10.2307/3170108. ISSN 0009-6407. JSTOR 3170108. S2CID 154764488.
  • Stephen D. Bowd: Reform before the Reformation : Vincenzo Querini and the religious Renaissance in Italy, Leiden [et al.], 2002.
  • Walter Rügert: John Wyclif, Jan Hus, Martin Luther: Wegbereiter der Reformation Konstanz, 2017.
  • E. H. Broadbent: The Pilgrim Church, Pickering & Inglis, 1937.
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