The Protestant Reformation

An orthodox Christian emailed us and said the Protestant Reformation was more of the same as the great Schism. He challenges us that Reformers were glad to leave the Church.

Wasn't the Protestant split the fault of the Catholics

Later, as you also know, people grew unhappy with the Catholic Church and a reform led by Martin Luther occurred

It's true we had some bad Popes around that time. But it was not really a reform, but an introduction of novel heresy at the hands of what we today would call a bunch of liberal university professors. Luther would never have succeeded at anything if he was not backed by Prince Frederick of Saxony, who liked Luther's anti-Papal ideas because they served to undermine Prince Frederick's obligations to the King of Germany, who was also the Holy Roman Emperor. For, the authority to be Holy Roman Emperor came from the Pope (who had to crown him), and if Christ did not recognize a Papacy (as Luther said) then the Holy Roman Emperor / King of Germany had no authority over Prince Frederick to ask for taxes from him, and so Frederick could rule Saxony as he pleased. And many other German princes followed Frederick's example to gain their political independence from the German king as well, and THIS is how northern Germany (along with Sweden and Norway) became Lutheran. It was not the common people's idea. And the same is true of Protestant England. The common people in all these places wanted to remain Catholic, but were forced by law to become Protestants.  Dr. Eamon Duffy, for example, has written an excellent and very well documented book about the Protestant take-over of England called "The Stipping of the Altars," which illustrates in great detail how the common people tried their best to remain Catholic.  

And :The Stipping of the Altars," which illustrates in great detail how the common people tried their best to remain Catholic, and there was no sense whatsoever that the Catholic Church was "corrupt" or needed "reform."  Then tell me why they did so willingly.

They didn’t. The common people in the Middle Ages and Renaissance period had to obey their secular rulers, who could impose a religion on them. This is what happened.

Many did not like the Catholic Church,

There is little historical evidence for this. While its likely there were groups of people who didn't like being accountable to the Church. That has always been true, and still is, which is why there is such a huge apostacy of all of Christianity. The is also plenty of anti-Catholic propaganda which likely overplays this.

and there were many false teachings circulating among its people in those days (remember Luther’s 95 theses?).

There were some abuses in the Church, yes. Luther was correct to condemn some of them (he was incorrect about others). But, there were many committed Catholics (e.g. Erasmus, St. Thomas More, St. Teresa of Avila, etc.) who spoke out against abuses without denying the truths of the Catholic Faith, as Luther did. 

Many people reformed willingly.

Many accepted the agenda of the so-called “Reformers” because they were told to by their superiors (e.g. Prince Frederick of Saxony, who was Luther’s patron; King Henry VIII, etc.); and this was sold as “reform,” when it was really heresy. The vast majority of people, however, wanted to retain their Catholic faith and its traditions and observations, and the so-called Reformers had a very hard time taking these away from the common people. It was a slow weaning process. That’s why early Lutheranism, and especially early Anglicanism, looked very “Catholic” by outward appearances.

Some were forced, most were not. Later, there was even a reform in the Catholic Church. 

There was no “reform” in the Catholic Church. Rather, there was what was called a Counter-Reformation in which the Church formally responded to the errors of the so-called Reformers (see the Council of Trent).  In this process, the Church did get rid of several abusive PRACTICES (NOT teachings) which the Protestants used to advance their causes. But, even while there were abuses, the Catholic Church never advocated these abuses or taught that they were right to do. 

Charis kai eirene / Slava Isusu Christu!

Mark Bonocore, edited by Hugh