Protestants often consider the Roman Catholic church to have significantly distorted the gospel. Were there Christians prior to the Reformation who had essentially the same understanding of the doctrines of salvation (particularly sola gratia) as the later Reformers did? I'm interested in people between Augustine (approx. 400 AD) and Luther (1517 AD).

  • Related: Compare the difference between "Protestants" and "Reformational Catholics" in this article.
    – metal
    Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 16:45
  • Research Monergism -- it was a theology alive and well in the early Church, and it was rejected and condemned officially around at 6th Ecumenical council in 680. And FYI your question is a tad presumptuous. The thinking is typically the Catholics added to the Gospel, not distorted.
    – user1946
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 15:19

3 Answers 3


Another theologian who anticipated some of the important thoughts of the Reformation, including sola gratia, was Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), who was frequently cited by both Luther and Calvin.


Just to list some:

  • 3
    Could you add summaries of the significant points in these men's theology that make you think they fit the bill for this question? How did each of them express their ideas on soteriology?
    – Caleb
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 13:28

Yes. They were called heretics. Augustine probably would not have even needed to write about it if it weren't for Pelagius. You can read all about early views like the ransom theory, Abelard's idealistic view on moral influence, Anselm's notion of satisfaction of God's honor in the 11th century and not to mention earlier views seen as heretical like Origen's recapitulation theory which said that demons and the Satan will be be fully justified in the end at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atonement_in_Christianity I could type it all here but to copy would be plagiarising and why do all work for you. You want to learn, read. Best book on early views of salvation is Gustaf Aulen Christus Victor which is cheap on amazon but also can be in your library if your country has them http://www.amazon.com/Christus-Victor-Historical-Study-Atonement/dp/1592443303

  • 1
    Do any of those have a protestant understanding of salvation? I'm not familiar with them, but recapitulation certainly isn't!
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 22:58

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