The title says it all, I'd like a list of all heresies condemned by the Catholic Church before the Reformation. This time specifically those identified in Lutheranism and 5 point Calvinism.

  • 1
    (a) Protestants + Jehovah's Witnesses + Mormons is a fabulously broad range of opinions. (b) Jehovah's Witnesses & Mormons might not be old enough to be representative any such list. Maybe you need to keep this narrowed to just the Protestants (and that might not be narrow enough). Oh, and (c) I should think the only perspective that would count is that of Catholocism. Challenging question.
    – JBH
    Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 1:09
  • Interesting observation, I think I'll do a series of questions like these aiming at a few denominations at a time. There you go, only Lutheranism and Calvinism this time around. I'll ask for more later. Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 1:26
  • Do you want old heresies with doctrines that are present in modern day Lutheranism and Calvinist Churches or all the Heresies ever before the reformation that are also condemned by Luther and Calvin?
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 1:55
  • 1
    You can have as a basis the versions of Lutheranism and Calvinism that first existed, the original Lutheranism and Calvinism. And if today's Lutheranism pr Calvinism somehow differs from the original beliefs then just make a note so that people may know they changed doctrine or have many off-shots now and that will suffice. Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 2:37
  • @Destynation Y - Would refusal to comply with a Papal Bull constitute heresy in the eyes of the Catholic Church?
    – Lesley
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 11:07

1 Answer 1


At the outset it should be noted that Lutherans and Calvinists agree with the Creed of Nicaea (325 A.D.) and affirm the early church's consensus concerning the nature of Christ and the Trinitarian faith which is foundational to Christianity.

The start of the Reformation is attributed to Martin Luther when he posted his 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg Church on October 31, 1517. However, 100 years before other Christians had stood up for reform and paid for it with their lives. John Wycliffe, an English theologian and Oxford professor (who had died in 1384), was condemned as a heretic by the Council of Constance on 4 May 1415. His crime was to defy the Pope by translating the New Testament into English. His writings were banned and his corpse exhumed from consecrated ground and burned.

Jan Hus, a priest from Bohemia, who rejected indulgences and adopted a doctrine of justification by grace through faith alone, was condemned by the Catholic Church and executed by burning in 1415 for his opposition to the Church of Rome.

Girolamo Savonarola, a Dominican friar, was hanged and burned in 1498. He had disobeyed and defied the pope by preaching under a ban, highlighting his campaign for reform.

The Council of Trent convened in the mid 1500’s to settle issues regarding the Lutheran Protestant Reformation. The Protestant Reformation formulated five “solas” or key teachings that defined the biblical basis of Protestant theology:

  1. Sola scriptura: “Scripture alone”
  2. Sola fide: “faith alone”
  3. Sola gratia: “grace alone”
  4. Solo Christo: “Christ alone”
  5. Soli Deo gloria: “to the glory of God alone”

At the heart of the Protestant Reformation are four basic questions: How is a person saved? Where does religious authority lie? What is the church? What is the essence of Christian living? The “Five Solas” express five essential points of biblical doctrine that clearly separate Protestantism from Roman Catholicism. Salvation by grace alone through faith alone, one of the Reformers’ rallying cries, was rejected in favour of sacramental grace and righteousness based on a mixture of grace and works.

The Council of Trent instituted seven sacraments: baptism, confirmation, communion, penance, unction, orders, and marriage. The council condemned anyone who said the sacraments were not necessary for salvation or that man can be justified through faith alone without any sacrament. The council also confirmed the belief in transubstantiation, which is rejected by Protestants. However, it is the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone that that is the primary heresy, and the rejection of Papal authority is a close second.

Information drawn from a variety of sources:

Protestant beliefs declared to be heretical by the Roman Catholic Church - Luther and the Five Solas condemned by the Council of Trent, held in Trento, Italy from 1545 to 1563: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_heresies

Protestant Reformation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reformation

Five solae: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_solae

Edit for clarification: From the Wiki article in the first link above, which lists the pre-Protestant Reformation heresies, there does not appear to be anything there that can be identified with what followers of Luther or Calvin believe. The heresy of refusing to submit to Papal authority and/or of rejecting apostolic succession from Peter via the Catholic Church could be laid at the door of ALL Protestant denominations.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the doctrine of Transubstantiation in section 1376:

"The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: ‘Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.’"

"The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1366)

According to paragraph 1367 the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist are one single sacrifice:

"The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different." "And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner . . . this sacrifice is truly propitiatory."

The passage pointed to most frequently in support of the doctrine of transubstantiation is John 6:32-58 and especially verses 53-57:

“Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life … For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him … so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.’”

Roman Catholics interpret this passage literally and apply its message to the “Eucharist” or “Mass.” Protestants who reject the idea of transubstantiation interpret Jesus’ words in John 6:53-57 figuratively or symbolically. They base their rejection of literally eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ Jesus on Hebrews 7:27:

"Unlike the other high priests, He (Jesus) does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins ONCE for all when He offered Himself."

I found an article from a Christian website that gives the Protestant view of the Catholic Eucharist and Transubstantiation, parts of which have been incorporated in my answer above: https://www.gotquestions.org/Holy-Eucharist.html

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    But Trent condemned those heresies after the Reformation. I think the question is asking which beliefs were condemned prior to the Reformation. Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 13:59
  • True, but the list of pre-Protestant Reformation Heresies in the first Wiki article above does not apply to followers of Luther or Calvin as far as I am aware. I will post an edit to that effect.
    – Lesley
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 16:02
  • Also please go into further detail about for instance the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I recommend you do bullet points where you state a Catholic dogma prior to the Reformation and then you expound on how Lutherans, Calvinists or both fall victim to the anathema. Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 23:22
  • It is not within the scope of your question to either condemn or approve of Catholic or Protestant doctrines or to present “truth” as perceived by one side or another. To do so would be to go off topic. My edit on the subject of Transubstantiation is restricted to simply presenting the facts as I have found them. I refuse to be drawn into a theological debate about who is right and who is wrong. You must form your own opinion.
    – Lesley
    Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 10:37

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