After the Splintering of the Protestant Revolt, there have been many men who are famous as Pastors and Preachers even up to the present day, the Billy Grahams the Joel Olstiens, John McArthurs, an Ellen G. White and so on.

My questions is, are there any famous Biblical Pastors before the 15th century that were not Catholic or Catholic-Orthodox priests or bishops or members of the Catholic or Catholic Orthodox Churches? Someone who for example, did not celebrate the traditional sacrament of the Mass?

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    @DJClayworth EOC is Catholic
    – Marc
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 19:32
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    No, they are Orthodox. Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 19:33
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    @DJClayworth Well, if you are right, someone should inform them.
    – Marc
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 19:37
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    D J Clayworth is correct. The Orthodox may use the word "Catholic" in their official title, but they are definitely not Catholic. Ever see an Orthodox patriarch concelebrate Mass with the Pope. Obviously No! They are not united with the Roman Catholic Church as are Eastern Rite Catholics are.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 20:23
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    @Marc. It has to do with the shifting meaning of 'Catholic'. Today it means 'Roman Catholic' (led by Roman bishop, curia in Rome). But as Korvin mentioned, in the Apostle's Creed era, Catholic means all churches who agree on the apostolic tradition at least until the council of Chalcedon (451 AD) and this includes the Eastern Orthodox churches. By definition catholic means universal; what to do when both Roman church and Eastern church claim universality? Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 22:38

2 Answers 2


Famous Pre Reformation Christian Pastors (Non Catholic and Non Orthodox)

Just how far back does one desire to go? Here is one example from the second century:

  • Marcion of Sinope (c. 85 – c. 160) was an important figure in early Christianity. His theology rejected the deity described in the Hebrew Scriptures and in distinction affirmed the Father of Christ as the true God. The Church Fathers denounced Marcion, and he was excommunicated from the proto-orthodox Church. He published his own list of New Testament books, making him a catalyst in speeding up the process of development of the New Testament canon by forcing the early Church to respond to his claims. His movement was known as Marcionism

Not to forget, Helvetius and company!

  • Helvidius (sometimes Helvetius) was the author of a work written prior to 383 against the belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary. Helvidius maintained that the biblical mention of "sisters" and "brothers" of the Lord constitutes solid evidence that Mary had normal marital relations with Joseph and additional children after the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus. He supported his opinion by the writings of Tertullian and Victorinus. Helvidius is sometimes seen as an early proto-protestant, along with Vigiliantius, Jovinian and Aerius of Sebaste.

All in all, I believe what you are looking for is to be more informed about Proto-Protestant leaders and preachers.

Proto-Protestantism, also called pre-Protestantism, refers to individuals and movements that propagated ideas similar to Protestantism before 1517, which is usually considered the starting year for the Reformation era. Major representatives were Peter Waldo (c. 1140 – c. 1205), John Wycliffe (1320s–1384), Jan Hus (c.  1369–1415) and the movements they started.

Peter Waldo and the Waldensians

In the early 1170s, Peter Waldo founded the Waldensians. He preached for strict adherence to the Bible, for simplicity and poverty, against Catholic dogmas, like the purgatory and transubstantiation which led to conflicts with the Roman Catholic Church. He initiated, and contributed to, a translation of the New Testament into the vernacular, the Arpitan (Franco-Provençal) language.

The Waldensians had adopted ideas that in the late 1130s, Arnold of Brescia, an Italian canon regular, had developed in an first attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church. His teachings on apostolic poverty gained currency among Arnoldists. By 1215, the Waldensians were declared heretical and subject to persecution.

John Wycliffe and the Lollards

John Wycliffe (1320s – 1384) was an English theologian and professor at the University of Oxford who developed many ideas similar to those later promoted in the Reformation. He rejected papal authority over secular power, translated the Bible into vernacular English, and preached anticlerical and biblically-centred reforms. Wycliffe's teachings were spread by his followers, known as Lollards.

Jan Hus and the Hussites

Beginning in the first decade of the 15th century, Jan Hus, a Czech Catholic priest and professor who was influenced by John Wycliffe's writings, founded the Hussite movement. He was burned at the stake as a heretic in 1415 by secular authorities. After his execution, a revolt erupted. Hussites defeated five continuous crusades proclaimed against them by the Pope.

Later on, theological disputes caused a split within the Hussite movement. Utraquists maintained that both the bread and the wine should be administered to the people during the Eucharist. Another major faction were the Taborites, who opposed the Utraquists in the Battle of Lipany during the Hussite Wars. There were two separate parties among the Hussites: moderate and radical movements. Other smaller regional Hussite branches in Bohemia included Adamites, Orebites, Orphans and Praguers.

Less influential early reformers

Throughout the Middle Ages, there were many Christian sects, cults and movements whose teachings foreshadowed later Protestant movements. Some of the main groups were:

  • Paulicians – an Armenian group (6th to 9th centuries) who sought a return to the purity of the church at the time of Paul the Apostle.

  • Tondrakians - an Armenian group (9th to 11th centuries) who advocated the abolition of the Church along with all its traditional rites.

  • Bogomils – a group arising in the 10th century in Bulgaria, Macedonia[citation needed]and the Balkans who sought a return to the spirituality of the early Christians and opposed established forms of government and church.

  • Arnoldists – a 12th century group from Lombardy who criticized the wealth of the Catholic Church and preached against baptism and the Eucharist. Named after Arnold of Brescia (c. 1090 – June 1155).

  • Petrobrusians were 12th century followers of Peter of Bruys in southeastern France who rejected the authority of the Church Fathers and of the Catholic Church, opposing clerical celibacy, infant baptism, prayers for the dead and organ music.

  • Henricans were 12th century followers of Henry of Lausanne in France. They rejected the doctrinal and disciplinary authority of the church, did not recognize any form of worship or liturgy and denied the sacraments.

  • Brethren of the Free Spirit – a term applied in the 13th century to those, primarily in the Low Countries, Germany, France, Bohemia and northern Italy, who believed that the sacraments were unnecessary for salvation, that the soul could be perfected through imitating the life of Christ, and that the perfected soul was free of sin and beyond all ecclesiastical, moral and secular law.

  • Apostolic Brethren (later known as Dulcinians) – a 13th to 14th century sect from northern Italy founded by Gerard Segarelli and continued by Fra Dolcino of Novara. The Apostolic Brethren rejected the worldliness of the church and sought a life of perfect sanctity, in complete poverty, with no fixed domicile, no care for the morrow, and no vows.

  • Neo-Adamites – a term applied in the 13th to 15th century to those, including Taborites, Picards and some Beghards, who wished to return to the purity of the life of Adam by living communally, practicing social and religious nudity, embracing free love and rejecting marriage and individual ownership of property.

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    Awesome answer, though I don't think many modern Protestants would identify with Marcion. Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 23:00

One example of Pre-Reformation, Pre-Protestant non-Catholic Christian movements was the Lollards. Lollards included John Wycliffe, William Thorpe and John Oldcastle.

Per Wikipedia:

Lollardy was a religion of vernacular scripture. Lollards opposed many practices of the Catholic church. Anne Hudson has written that a form of sola scriptura underpinned Wycliffite beliefs, but distinguished it from the more radical ideology that anything not permitted by scripture is forbidden. Instead, Hudson notes that Wycliffite sola scriptura held the Bible to be "the only valid source of doctrine and the only pertinent measure of legitimacy."

With regard to the Eucharist, Lollards such as John Wycliffe, William Thorpe, and John Oldcastle, taught a view of the real presence of Christ in Holy Communion known as "consubstantiation" and did not accept the doctrine of transubstantiation, as taught by the Roman Catholic Church in 1215.

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    @SolaGratia Wikipedia does not say that transubstantiation was taught only in 1215. They did not accept that doctrine as taught in 1215.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 22:20
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    It's Wikipedia. You can go and edit it yourself. Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 22:57
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    These men were all Lollards, some were Catholic, they are not Protestants, but Reformers. The Questions asks for Pre-Reformation Pastors, not Catholic Reformation players. These men all celebrated Mass!
    – Marc
    Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 12:02
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    You asked for "before the 15th Century" which they certainly were. Wikipedia describes them as pre-Reformation. Most of them left or were thrown out of the Catholic church. The line between Protestants and Reformers is very blurry. Even Luther originally intended to reform the Catholic church. Given that the Catholic church was the only church in much of the world at that time, you are going to have a hard time finding someone who was never associated with it. Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 12:39
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    Ken Graham's answer is much more comprehensive than mine. I would accept his answer. Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 12:44

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