I have seen the original reformers referred to as the "Magisterial reformers" a couple of times over the past few years, and I'm only now wondering what the significance of that phrase is.
Does it imply that the original reformers (eg Luther and Calvin) believed in a Magisterium? That is, did they believe in an official teaching office of the Church that has the power to proclaim binding dogmas? (In the Catholic system this is the Pope and all the Bishops who are in communion with him)
Another reason I ask is directly related to this: I've read that the original reformers had a very different view of "Sola Scriptura" when compared to modern day protestant evangelicals. Apparently they didn't believe in the "private interpretation" which is common in the protestant church today. This leads me to wonder, if they didn't believe in private interpretation, then did they believe in submitting to official church teachings instead, like Catholics do?
(Of course if they did indeed believe this, they presumably didn't identify the church with the Catholic church of the day, but instead identified it with their own new and unique denominations)
I've also read that during the reformation, Calvin ruled Geneva theologically and politically, almost as if he were a bishop or Pope of his own new version of Christianity. I understand that he subscribed to sola scriptura, but he was the only person in Geneva who was permitted to actually study the bible and come to theological conclusions (This is my understanding; I'm open to further information/correction).
The reason I bring this up is that it seems to indicate that Calvin regarded himself as an alternate, authoritative Magisterium of the church.
Final note: I have always been utterly baffled by the doctrine of Sola Scriptura as presented by modern evangelical protestants. It has always seemed fundamentally broken, incoherent and illogical to me. It is impossible to infallibly recognise the canon of scripture when you deny Church authority (This was a deal breaker for me and caused me to convert to Catholicism).
However I think I'm finally seeing the light. I can understand Christianity following a doctrine of Sola Scriptura provided that there is also an authoritative Magisterium which is operating according to this doctrine. By this I mean, there is still an official church authority who can proclaim dogmas, resolve disputes, recognise the canon of scripture, etc, however this church authority must make sure that everything it teaches can be explicitly proven from scripture.
In this way you would have a Christianity which embraces both Sola Scriptura and has an authoritative Magisterium.
Is this what the original reformers were trying to do?