Tag Archives: Roman Catholic Church

“Plain Water” — The Reformation and Worship

The Reformation wasn’t only about theology.  It was also, and perhaps most centrally, about doxology.  It was about the right giving of glory, about worship.  That was the central thesis of Carlos Eire’s 1986 book, War Against the Idols: the Reformation of Worship from Erasmus to Calvin.  It’s essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what really drove the Reformation in the sixteenth century.

At the heart of the Reformed drive to purify Christian worship was a principle.  That principle was sola Scriptura — by the Bible alone.  Our worship is to be governed only according to the Word of God.  God alone has the prerogative to determine how we are to worship him and his prerogatives are expressed in the Scriptures.

That key principle found expression in the Reformed confessions.  For instance, article 7 of the Belgic Confession says that Scripture is sufficient for our faith and practice.  Then it adds, “The whole manner of worship which God requires of us is written in it at length.”  Later, in article 32, the Confession insists:

We believe that, although it is useful and good for those who govern the church to establish a certain order to maintain the body of the church, they must at all times watch that they do not deviate from what Christ, our only Master, has commanded.  Therefore we reject all human inventions and laws introduced into the worship of God which bind and compel the conscience in any way.

Or as the Heidelberg Catechism puts it in QA 96, “We are not to worship him [God] in any other manner than he has commanded in his Word.”  That is the most succinct expression of the Reformed principle of worship.  In more recent times, it’s been called the regulative principle of worship.  It’s simply the application of sola Scriptura to worship.

Naturally, there is a background to this in the pre-Reformation church.  In the medieval church, things had been added and subtracted from Christian worship.  This had been done on human authority, without any divine approbation from the Scriptures.  When the Reformation arrived, people again became attuned to the Scriptures and they realized that the church’s worship had become idolatrous.  Worship was in need of renewal according to the Bible.

A noteworthy example of this is found in article 34 of the Belgic Confession.  This article first speaks in general terms about the meaning of Christian baptism.  Baptism has replaced circumcision.  Baptism is the means by which we are “received into the church of God.”  Through baptism we are set apart from the world.  Then the Reformed churches confess this:

For that reason he has commanded all those who are his to be baptized with plain water into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19).

Notice especially the mention of “plain water.”  Those two words are pregnant with meaning.

“Plain water” is directed at the ways in which Rome had added to baptism.  In his book Flesh and Spirit, Steven Ozment describes how baptism was administered by Rome around the time of the Reformation:

The traditional service of baptism began with the priest blowing gently under the eyes of the newborn and commanding the devil, “Flee from this child, unclean spirit, and make room for the Holy Spirit.”  The child then received the mark of the cross on its forehead and chest and a pinch of consecrated salt in its mouth, this time accompanied by the words, “Take the salt of [divine] wisdom, and may it atone for you in eternity.”  Thereafter, the priest imitated Christ’s healing of a deaf-mute (Mark 7:33-34) and a blind man (John 9:6) by dabbing a mixture of his own sputum and dirt in the child’s nose and ears, while pronouncing a double command, the first for the child, the second for the devil:  “[Dear child] receive the sweetness [of God]…devil, flee, for the judgment of God is near.”  The priest then anointed the child’s chest and shoulders with olive oil and placed a consecrated mixture of olive oil and balsam — the holy chrism — on the crown of its head.  The final acts of the service belonged to the godparent, who took the naked, baptized child from the priest and clothed it in the traditional white shirt or gown (the Wester, Alba, or Westerhemd) — symbols of purity and acceptance into the body Christian– which the godparent provided for the occasion.  The godparent then named the child, often after the godparent.  The service concluded with the placement of a candle in the combined hands of the child and parent(s), who were exhorted to “receive the ardent and blameless Light [of God].”  (page 78)

That was a long, complicated description, wasn’t it?  And how much of it is commanded in Scripture?  You can see why the Belgic Confession says so much with two words about baptism:  “plain water.”  That’s how Christ commanded baptism to be done, so that’s how we do baptism.  It’s simple and biblical.

With 500 years since the Reformation, is this Reformed principle of worship still relevant?  Look around.  You’ll see Protestant churches that add and take away from Christ’s commands for worship here, there, and everywhere.  Sadly, there are churches where there is no biblical preaching to speak of.  There are churches which neglect the sacraments.  There are churches which substitute dramatic productions (on the stage or on the screen) for preaching.  In some “Presbyterian” churches, they’ve at times added liturgical dancing.   There have even  been “Reformed” churches where they decided to preach on The Simpsons rather than the Word of God.  It’s almost as if the Reformation never happened!  For this reason, we need to learn again from the Reformation about worship.  We need to go back to the faithful summary of Scripture in our Reformed confessions.  When we do that, we will worship God only as he commands in his Word — no additions or subtractions.


The Reformation in Latin America

I recently finished reading Timothy Tennent’s Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century.  There are some good things in this volume, but there are also some serious concerns.  Time permitting, I intend to write a full review and submit it to a journal.

For today, I just want to interact briefly with something Tennent writes in chapter 10, “The Flowering of World Christianity, 1910-Present.”  In this chapter, he discusses the explosion of Pentecostalism around the world, and especially in Latin America.  Tennent views this in a positive light.  Here’s a paragraph to give you a taste:

…Latin America is not merely the story of the rise of Pentecostalism and the decline of Roman Catholicism, or the intrusion of Pentecostals into Roman Catholic territory.  As with the European Reformation, this new reformation has also stimulated vitality in the Roman Catholic Church, resulting in a renewed emphasis on evangelism and mission.  As Roman Catholic missiologist John Gorski has noted, “Evangelization in the specific sense of announcing the Gospel to enable a personal encounter with the living Christ, leading to conversion and discipleship, became a conscious concern of the Catholic Church only within the past half century.”  The point is, the Reformation has finally arrived in Latin America!  Just as the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation in Europe challenged and helped to foster the emergence of a new branch of Christianity and to bring reformation to the established church of its day, so today the Pentecostals in Latin America are bringing along the emergence of new Christian movements and the renewal of Roman Catholicism, as well as theological discussions that mirror many of the broad contours of the Protestant Reformation in Europe.  (288)

There’s so much askew here.  Where to start?

First of all, one of the major problems throughout this book is the author’s view of Roman Catholicism.  He believes that Roman Catholics are Christians and that, as Christians, they bring the gospel to the lost.  With this position, he denies the necessity of the Reformation.  More significantly, he denies the point of Paul’s letter to the Galatians!  Because of their denial of sola gratia and sola fide, the Roman Catholics do not have a gospel to bring to the lost.  Instead, from a Reformed perspective, they too are in need of the gospel.  As the Heidelberg Catechism states it in QA 30, you cannot believe in the only Saviour Jesus if you also seek your salvation or well-being from saints or anywhere else.

Second, to compare the explosion of Pentecostalism in Latin America with the Reformation is unbelievable.  The Pentecostalism one finds in Latin America is so rife with errors and heresies that this comparison just doesn’t fly.  Much of Latin American Pentecostalism is syncretistic.  In Brazil, for instance, many practitioners of African tribal religions are also Pentecostal.  Some of Latin American Pentecostalism is heretical on the doctrine of the Trinity.  With its view of revelation, Pentecostalism functionally denies sola Scriptura.  Their doctrine of salvation is Arminian at best, Pelagian at worst — a denial of the gospel of grace.  The list goes on.  This is not a Reformation — it’s merely trading in one form of defective religion for another form.  To say that Pentecostalism echoes the “broad contours” of the Reformation makes me wonder whether Tennent is failing to understand the teachings of Pentecostalism or the Reformation — or perhaps both?

Finally, let me comment on Tennent’s view of the Reformation.  He writes that it “fostered the emergence of a new branch of Christianity.”  Here he shows his hand and the game is up.  If the Reformation introduced something new, then it really wasn’t a Reformation, but a revolution.  The Reformers were not intent on producing “a new branch of Christianity.”  They wanted to bring Europe (and the world) back to the old ways — back to the Bible and back to the gospel.  Tennent sounds like a sociologist trying to present an “objective” view of things, not a theologian who takes the Bible seriously.  I want to ask him two questions:  1) Was the Reformation necessary or not?  2) Is there still a good reason for us to “protest” against the teachings of Rome today?

Thankfully, there really is a Reformation taking place in Latin America.  Pentecostals and Roman Catholics are discovering the gospel of grace in Brazil and elsewhere.  They are abandoning their Pentecostal and Roman Catholic beliefs and finding comfort in the biblical gospel of Christ.  More and more of them are reading the Reformed confessions and finding that these are faithful summaries of God’s Word.  The Holy Spirit is opening their eyes to biblical truths like sola gratia, sola fide, sola Scriptura, solus Christus, and soli Deo Gloria.  The living Spirit of Christ is producing a true Reformation and I just pray that missiologists like Tim Tennent could see that.


Contextualization (1)

Revised text of a lecture for the Grade 11 Bible class at Credo Christian High School, Langley, BC in 2007.

As most of you know, for the first few years of my ministry, I served as a missionary in Fort Babine, BC, north of Smithers.  There were many difficult issues to work through as a missionary.  One of these was the relationship between native culture and the Christian faith.  There were some native Christians who said, for instance, that when you became a Christian you could no longer go to potlatch feasts.  They said the potlatch was all tied up with native spirituality.  Others said that potlatch feasts were okay for Christians or at least some potlatches were okay and others weren’t.  These sorts of issues not only come up in Fort Babine – they come up all over the globe.  In what follows, I want to look at this relationship between Christianity and culture.

I’m going to speak about something called contextualization.  I know that’s a word you may not have heard of before.  But if you ever doing any reading in the area of missions, you’ll soon come across it.  It’s probably the subject that gets the most discussion by people who study mission.

So, what is contextualization?  We can define it like this:

Contextualization is taking the gospel of Christ to a new context and finding appropriate and effective ways to communicate it so the people in that context can understand it best.  It also includes developing a church life that is biblically faithful and culturally appropriate.

There is a lot there in that definition.  But it can be boiled down to two things:  communication and identity.  First, when we bring the gospel to people from another culture, how can we effectively tell them about Christ?  Second, there’s identity.  How do people from another culture take the gospel and make it their own?  What does accepting the gospel do to their cultural identity?  When we take these two things together, we’re looking at the interaction between culture and faith, particularly a new faith that comes from outside the culture.

Before we go any further, we have to think for a few moments on the definitions of communication and culture.  First, let’s define communication:

Communication is transmitting information that influences and/or informs the behaviour and thinking of other creatures.

We sometimes think communication is just a simple matter of using words to get something across to somebody else.  But the reality is that communication is a very complicated thing.  It’s not just about words.  Whether we realize it or not, a lot of our communication is non-verbal.  We send messages with our body language.  When we communicate with one another, we also work with a shared understanding of what the world is like, or worldview.  Coming from the same culture, we share the same understanding of the various social structures – so we know that talking to our parents or teachers is different than speaking to our friends and so on.  Communication is a complicated thing.  When we’re in our own culture, we can take it for granted.  But when you go to another culture, if you want to be effective as a missionary, you have to be sensitive to the complexities of communication.

Culture is also complex.  What is culture?  There are dozens of definitions floating around.  For our purposes, we can use this one:

Culture is the complex, dynamic whole of human existence which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, customs, and the resulting artifacts.

The two key words I want you to note there are complex and dynamicComplex means it’s made up of many parts.  Dynamic means it’s constantly changing.  Someone once said that culture is like a lava lamp – very true.

So, it’s these two things that contextualization is concerned with:  culture (identity) and communication.  Up till now that sounds a bit abstract and theoretical, but we need to get a bit of background before we move into the more concrete side of things.  Let’s do that now.

Sometimes in our churches collections will be taken for Middle East Reformed Fellowship (MERF).  This is an organization that does mission work primarily among people in the Middle East who are Muslims, followers of Islam.  Over the last couple of years, there has been a lot of discussion among missionaries and mission scholars about missions to Muslims.  The hot issue is contextualization.  How can Christian missionaries effectively communicate the gospel to Muslims, people who have their own unique culture?  What does it look like for a person with a Muslim background to become a Christian?  To help in discussing and answering these questions, one missionary who goes by the name of John Travis (not his real name) came up with what he called the C-spectrum.

The C-spectrum gives a framework of different ways of being a so-called Muslim Background Believer (MBB) – this is related to the question of identity. The framework looks like this:

C1 refers to a traditional Western church that uses a language foreign to the people (English, for example).  The people in this church are trying to be culturally Western and the believers there openly refer to themselves as Christians.

C2 is a traditional Western church using the language of the people (Arabic, for instance).  The believers found here refer to themselves as Christians, but some of their language reflects their Muslim background.  However, their most important religious vocabulary is definitely Christian.

C3 is used to describe churches that use the language of the people but also other cultural forms (music, dress, artwork, etc.) that these believers consider to be neutral.  They still refer to themselves openly as Christians.

C4 is similar to C3.  However, it includes more Islamic practices that are considered to be biblically permissible.  For instance, C4 believers will pray with raised hands, avoid pork and alcohol and they will use more Islamic language.  Also, C4 believers do not refer to themselves as Christians.  Instead, they will say that they are followers of Isa the Messiah (Isa is the Arabic name of Jesus).

When we come to C5, we’re speaking about Messianic Muslims.  Legally and socially, they remain within the Islamic community.  Parts of Islamic theology that go against the Bible are rejected or reinterpreted if possible.  Others in their community regard them as Muslims and they refer to themselves as Muslims who follow Isa the Messiah.

Finally, C6 refers to small communities of underground believers.  They typically live under totalitarian governments in closed countries.  For fear of persecution, they worship Christ entirely in secret.  As opposed to C5 and the other groups, C6 MBBs are silent about their faith.  They are regarded as Muslims by those around them and they simply identify themselves as Muslims without adding anything or qualifying that further.

The C-spectrum provides a helpful framework for debate and discussion about contextualization with Muslim background believers.  Some believe that only C1 and C2 are valid forms of contextualization.  Others say that C4 to C6 are equally valid.  From this you can concretely see the kinds of issues that are at stake here.

If we bring those issues down to one main concern for those who take the Bible seriously, it is the matter of syncretism.  Syncretism is what happens when two belief systems are brought together and then the resulting combined system is a dangerous compromise.  With the example above of the C-Spectrum some people are concerned about mixing Christianity and Islam.  If you want a clear example of syncretism, we could look at the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico.  Roman Catholics around the world worship the Virgin Mary, but in Mexico and other places in Latin America it gets very extreme.  This is because when the Roman Catholic Church came into Latin America, the native inhabitants had a pagan nature goddess named Cihuacoatl.  The Roman Catholic Church replaced this pagan nature goddess with Mary, whom they call our Lady of Guadeloupe.  This has taken place in other places in the world as well.  The Roman Catholics have always very easily incorporated pagan elements into their worship.  This is what we call syncretism and this is one of the biggest concerns when we discuss contextualization.  We want to avoid syncretism because that means compromise and possibly losing the gospel message itself.

Click here to read Part 2.


Letter to a Friend

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Some time ago, a friend asked me for some help in figuring out the differences between Roman Catholicism and the biblical faith confessed by Reformed churches.  This was my reply:

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I think you hit it dead on when you mentioned the “solas” of the Reformation.  The “solas” strike at the heart of the differences between Rome and Reformed churches.

Grace Alone

Rome states that salvation is by grace — as your correspondents above have argued.  However, it is grace plus man’s effort.  The traditional Roman Catholic formulation is, “God will not deny his grace to those who do what is in their power.”  In more modern terms, “God helps those who help themselves.”  The technical term for this is semi-Pelagianism.  Man is not spiritually dead, but only sick and needs a little help from grace.

By contrast, the Reformed churches state that salvation is by grace alone — grace being defined as unmerited or even forfeited divine favour, receiving the opposite of what one deserves.  Man is dead in sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1), his heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9) and he can do nothing to help himself.  This is the traditional Augustinian position — it was emphatically not a Reformation innovation.  It is only and entirely by God’s grace that man is saved.

Faith Alone

Rome states that people are justified by faith.  However, Rome has explicitly denied that justification is by faith alone and in fact condemns Reformed believers who hold to this position:

If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning thereby that no other cooperation is required for him to obtain the grace of justification, and that in no sense is it necessary for him to make preparation and be disposed by a movement of his own will:  let him be anathema [accursed] (Council of Trent, session 6, canon 9).

Moreover, according to Rome, justification is a life-long process by which we are made righteous, rather than a one-time event where we are declared righteous.  We must, they say, increase and preserve our justification.  Finally, faith is also redefined by Rome to include good works and these good works become part of the meritorious basis of justification.

By contrast, the Reformed churches state that justification is by faith alone (Romans 3-4).  God declares us righteous (a one-time event) not on the basis of our faith, but through the instrument of our faith.  We’ll come to the basis in a moment.

Christ Alone

Rome states that Christ is needed for salvation and our well-being for now and eternity.  However, one may and should also make use of the merits of the saints, especially Mary.  It is not Christ alone, but Christ plus.  The worship (devotion) given to Mary is the most glaring example of this.  The Catholic Catechism goes so far as to say that she is our Advocate and Mediatrix, and that “the Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.”  Also, as noted above, it is not Christ alone when it comes to justification.  Instead, it is Christ plus…  Here’s Trent again:

…they through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith cooperating with good works, increase in that justice received through the grace of Christ and are further justified (Trent, session 6, canon 10).

And here Reformed believers are again condemned by Rome:

If anyone says that justice once received is neither preserved nor increased in the sight of God by good works, but that the works themselves are no more than the effects and signs of justification obtained, and not also a cause of its increase, let him be anathema (Trent, session 6, canon 24).

The Reformed churches argued that only Jesus Christ is needed for our salvation and for our well-being for now and eternity.  They could find no evidence in the Bible of a distinction between devotion and adoration, much less of the idea that we should be offering any kind of worship to a mere human being.  Second Timothy 2:5 is clear that there is one Mediator between God and men, allowing no room for a Mediatrix or co-Advocate.  Furthermore, Christ alone is the basis for our justification — he lived a perfect life of obedience for us and in our place.  He died once for all on the cross for us and in our place.  God imputes all his merits to us, and all our sin has been imputed to him and thus we are accounted righteous before God.

Scripture Alone

Rome states that the Bible has authority.  But it is not the Bible alone which has the ultimate authority.  Rather, for Rome, it is Scripture plus tradition.  So, for instance, even though the Assumption of Mary (the doctrine that Mary did not die but was taken up directly into heaven) is nowhere found in Scripture, the tradition makes it a dogma and it becomes one.

The Reformed churches retorted that only the Bible can be our ultimate authority and we may not add or take away as we please, even if we were angels from heaven (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Deut. 12:32, Rev. 22:18-19, Gal. 1:8).  Yes, we ought to give heed to the early church fathers, councils, synods, etc.  In fact, the writings of the Reformers are filled with references to these.  But because these are all made up of men, they can and have erred.  Thus, everything is to be scrutinized with the infallible and inerrant Scripture, which is the norming norm.

The Glory of God Alone

Finally, Rome states that God is to be worshipped and glorified.  Yet, Rome also promotes the worship of Mary and the saints, giving glory to human beings.  The “Hail, Mary” and “Hail, Holy Queen” prayers on the rosary would be enough to prove this, and much more could be added.

The Reformed have always said, “Soli Deo Gloria,” “To God Alone the Glory.”  God alone is to be worshipped and glorified, God alone receives all credit for our salvation and all thanks for all good things (Romans 11:36, Ephesians 1 — see how many times it mentions “to the praise of his glory”).

I think it bears noting that the first generations of Reformers, including the authors of the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism, were raised in the Roman Catholic Church.  They were very familiar with what the Roman Catholic Church taught, probably a lot more than many modern day Protestants and Roman Catholics.  The Reformation happened for a reason — Rome did not make its case on the basis of the Bible, nor did it evidence a love for a Christ-obsessed and Christ-saturated gospel.  Rome forsook the narrow path and opted for an eclectic mix of teachings which diluted the monergistic and God-glorifying doctrines of the apostles and prophets.  If a person truly believes (rests and trusts) in Jesus Christ alone for his or her salvation and well-being for now and eternity, that person does not belong in the Roman Catholic Church where such a belief is condemned.  The Catholic Church is not found at the Vatican.


A Reformation Conversation

Today is the day when Protestants all over the world commemorate the Reformation.  For my contribution, I’d like to share a brief part of a conversation between Guido (Guy) de Bres and Richardot, bishop of Arras.  The dispute was held on May 22, 1567 at the prison in Valenciennes where de Bres was being held prior to his martyrdom on May 31.  De Bres tells us what happened:

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About eight o’clock in the morning of May 22, the bishop of Arras came to me for the second time, accompanied by a great number of priests, churchmen, and others.  After every one greeted one another, the Bishop approached me at the table and I was seated face to face with him and all the others were seated around the room.  They had much to say on the topic of the Mass and the Supper.  Their strategy was to put all this before my eyes so that I would approve their doctrine and then after their triumph they would use that to destabilize the weak in the faith, to have them abandon the true and ancient doctrine which I preached to them.  At least that’s what they hoped to do.

The Bishop:  Well, Guy, since we last talked together, how have you been?  Are you in the same situation and holding the same opinion?  Have you thought about our last talk together?

Guy:  Sir, I praise my God and Father that it pleases him to bestow his fatherly mercy on me, consoling me and fortifying me in a marvelous way in my bonds and afflictions.  I see and feel the strength and faithfulness of his promises for which I thank him with all my heart, praying to him to continue until the end of my life.  As for the rest, I still feel the same and my situation is the same.

The Bishop:  What?  I hoped to find you completely changed, according to the hope which I expressed last time.  Don’t you want to draw near and embrace an encounter with the truth?  O Guy, my brother and friend, I beg you not to be stubborn in your sentiments and not to prefer your judgment to the judgment of the whole church and of many learned persons who were before us.

Last time we dealt with the sacrifice of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Mass, which the fathers have said was in use in the time of the Apostles, saying often, “We offer,” speaking of the Eucharist.  It is a wonder how you like better to believe a doctrine which began about forty years ago, produced and set forth by Oecolampadius and Karlstadt, who were its first authors.  It seems better to me to believe the fathers who say the Eucharist is a sacrifice, than these others who say something to the contrary.  I know well how you will respond to me.  You’ll say that St. Paul said to the Hebrews that Christ offered himself only once.  But my response is that in the Mass we do not make another sacrifice than the one he has already made.  We do not make one today and tomorrow another.  It is always the same one which we offer, not as he offered himself on the cross, for there he offered himself by presentation of merit, but we offer as ministers and executors of his Will by application of that merit.  I am surprised how you find that so strange.  We say that we offer Jesus Christ to God the Father for our sins.  In your Supper, do you not present Jesus Christ to God for your sins?  Do you pray that he will apply to you the merits of the death and suffering of his Son?  Guy, my brother and friend, I beg you not to embrace your opinion.  I am looking out for your salvation and your well-being.  I desire everything good for you.  I’m certainly not blood-thirsty, but one who wants to deal with you in all gentleness and moderation.

Guy:  Sir, I do not know what hope you conceived for me last time.  If you have hoped to win me over to your religion, I cannot help that.  At any rate, I do not think that you have been given occasion for that hope.  It’s not like you think.  As I’ve said before and say it again, I have never been stubborn and close-minded against clear thinking and reason.  But if anyone can show me from the Word of God that I have been in error, I am completely ready to give up.  Up to the present there has been nothing of all that I have heard that would make me leave the certain for the uncertain.  I still hold the same position that I did at the time when by quick testimony from the Word of God, you made me appear to be contrary.  As I have said, I am not stubborn, and do not prefer my judgment to the judgment of the Church.  But I do certainly prefer with clear thinking and just cause the ancient and early Church in which the Apostles set up all things according to the ordinance of Christ.  I prefer that to the church of our time which is loaded with a vast number of human traditions, and which has degenerated itself in a remarkable way from the early Church.  With good reason, I say, I hold to that which the Apostles first received.  For Jesus Christ, in Revelation 2, says to those in Thyatira that they should beware of the profound trickeries of Satan, to beware of false doctrine.  He says, “I will put on you no other burden, only that which you have already, hold fast to this until I come.”  He would not have spoken thus if it would have been necessary to receive all the novelties which the Roman church has fabricated and daily put forth as a divine commission.  Indeed, I honor greatly the learned and holy persons who have preceded us, but especially the Apostles and Prophets, and their testimony is certain and indubitable.

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The conversation goes on for many more pages, mostly dealing with the mass.  But here in this excerpt you can see de Bres taking his own stand on the Word of God, just as Martin Luther did many years earlier.  Also noteworthy is de Bres’ appeal to the early church — it was always his contention that the Reformed were the ones who were truly in the line of the early church.  He makes this case more fully in his book dealing with Romanism, Le baston de la foy Chrestienne.  Today we may give thanks for what God did through de Bres and the other Reformers.