In other words, say, in the fourth century, were they "on track" and the legitimate heirs of the reins of Christianity, so to speak but then went off track toward the middle ages? Or do they consider the authority of the Popes and all to have been illegitimate all along?

  • Probably not exactly what you're asking about, but Protestant theologies have a large variety of views about the nature, legitimacy, and importance of the "apostolic succession" said to trace to the authority Jesus gave to Peter.
    – aschepler
    Aug 24, 2020 at 19:50
  • 2
    I should say the apostles, rather than Peter. Papal primacy and apostolic succession are two different concepts.
    – aschepler
    Aug 24, 2020 at 20:00
  • Thanks, I realized that, which is why I limited it to the Reformed view. Of course, I wouldn't doubt that opinions also diverge on that as well. I wasn't really mindful of the fact that apostolic success is a thing as well as the Papacy. The apostolic succession is probably more what I was thinking about, though I referred primarily to the Papal succession because that's all that came to mind. Thanks for that reminder!
    – Ruminator
    Aug 24, 2020 at 20:00
  • It is generally believed that the failure of the plan to have 5 Archbishops of which none were greater than the others to be a bad thing.
    – Joshua
    Aug 25, 2020 at 0:20
  • Thanks for the comment, Joshua, but I'm not enough of an insider to appreciate it.
    – Ruminator
    Aug 25, 2020 at 0:21

1 Answer 1


It is clear from John Knox's words, recorded at his meeting with Queen Mary at Holyrood in 1561 (accompanied by Lord James Stewart) that the reformer regarded the Papacy to be an intrusion and the mass to be an idolatrous sacrifice. He quite clearly regards both to be without warrant, from their inception.

‘Take one of the chief points, Madam, which this day is in controversy betwixt the Papists and us.

The Papists have boldly affirmed that the Mass is the ordinance of God, and the institution of Jesus Christ, and a sacrifice for the sins of the quick and the dead. We deny both the one and the other.

We affirm that the Mass, as it is now used, is nothing but the invention of man, and, therefore, is an abomination before God, and no sacrifice that ever God commanded.

Now, Madam, who shall judge betwixt us two thus contending? It is no reason that either of the parties be further believed, than they are able to prove but insuspect witnessing. Let them prove their affirmatives by the plain words of the Book of God, and we shall give them the plea granted.

What our Master Jesus Christ did, we know by His Evangelists; what the priest doeth at his Mass, the world seeth.

Now, doth not the Word of God plainly assure us, that Christ Jesus neither said Mass, nor yet commanded Mass to be said, at His Last Supper, seeing that no such thing as their Mass is made mention of within the whole Scriptures?’

Reformissio - John Knox and Queen Mary

The Meeting between Queen Mary and John Knox, by Robert Inerarity Herdman 1829-1888.

by Robert Inerarity Herdman 1829-1888

  • 1
    Thank you Nigel.
    – Ruminator
    Aug 24, 2020 at 17:36
  • @Ruminator 'Twas a pleasure.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 24, 2020 at 17:37

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