My question is not focused on the doctrinal issue, but on the external practices which were contributing to the division. For example, I know there were many 'image breakers' similar to traditional Jewish views, who even took a swing at Luther for having pictures in his Bible, whereas Luther was a little more middle of the road with regards to images and statues. So long as they were not used in anyway that might suggest invocation to Mary, or the Saints, which turned them into proper idols, he did not see a problem.

The question therefore, is NOT should this thing, or that thing, be offensive, but 'historically', what was offensive?

  • Where does Luther's 95 theses fit in? Aug 31, 2012 at 2:04
  • What do you mean by 'external practices'? The divisions of the Reformation were largely doctrinal. Do they count? How about Latin versus common language? Is the sale of indulgences an 'external practice'? Aug 31, 2012 at 2:14
  • @DJClayworth - The question here is 'external practices' of which historical research would be required. If I new them all I would not ask the question. For example pilgrimages, what were they why were they offensive to reformers, or where they? What about praying to a statue of Mary? Did anyone do that? If so did reformers find this to be offensive? These are the types of things my question is about. I am aleeady an expert at many of the doctinal issues and sale of indulgances and have no questions about that. Latin verse common language sounds on topic.
    – Mike
    Aug 31, 2012 at 4:17
  • @unregistered-matthew7.7 - Yes, 95 theses is probably a good place to start to extract some of them - good point. I am going to start making my own list, but it may take some time as I do not like to rush into unfamiliar territory, to ensure I obtain true conclusions.
    – Mike
    Aug 31, 2012 at 5:23
  • Just a suggestion - would it be worth doing this with a community wiki answer? I can think of several more issues over and above the ones in jcohen79's excellent answer. Sep 4, 2012 at 13:23

1 Answer 1


Book IV of Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion deals with many objections to the practices of the Catholic Chruch, frequently with rather harsh language.

  • The claim that the Roman church is the only church (Chap II.2)
  • The communion as practiced by Catholics is idolatry: "The foulest sacrilege has been introduced in the place of the Lord's Supper."
  • Reliance on Church teaching instead of the Bible (Chap II.4): "Paul reminds us that the church was founded not upon men's judgements, not upon priesthoods, but upon the teaching of apostles and prophets [Eph 2:20]."
  • Elders should be elected (Chap II.15). Reference is made to Acts 14:23, which seems to have a disputed translation, but also to the practices of the early churches.
  • Bishops should not have ostentation or pomp (Chap IV.7)
  • Examinations of church leaders was not done, or if done was not based on ability to preach. (Chap V.1)
  • The Church did not reject interference by princes (Chap V.3)
  • Church titles are conferred without regard to need (Chap V.7)

It goes on like that for hundreds of more pages.


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