Nine Things You Should Know About the Council of Trent

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Nine Things You Should Know About the Council of Trent

    by Carter, Joe

    The year 2013 marked the 450th anniversary of the closing of the Council of Trent, one of the most significant series of meetings in Christian history. Here are nine things evangelicals should know about the Council and the decrees1 that it issued.

    1. The Council of Trent was the most important movement of the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation, the Catholic church’s first significant reply to the growing Protestant Reformation. The primary purpose of the Council was to condemn and refute the beliefs of the Protestants, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, and to clarify Roman Catholic belief. Approximately forty clergymen, mainly Roman Catholic bishops, were in attendance during the twenty-five sessions over the next eighteen years that the Council convened.

    2. Protestants endorse justification by faith alone (sola fide) apart from anything (including good works), a position the Roman Catholic Church condemned as heresy. During the sixth session, the Council issued a decree saying that

    If any one saith, that the received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema (Canon 24).

    3. The Protestant Reformers rejected the Apocrypha as part of the biblical canon. The Apocrypha (the Greek word for ‘hidden’) is a collection of ancient Jewish writings which were written between 300 and 30 BC in the era between the Old and New Testaments. During the fourth session, the Council issued a decree damning anyone who rejected these books:

    if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin (Vulgate) edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema.’

    Many doctrines unique to Roman Catholicism, such as the doctrines of purgatory, prayers for the dead, and salvation by works, are found in these books.

    4. During the Protestant Reformation, the doctrine of transubstantiation was heavily criticized as an Aristotelian ‘pseudo-philosophy.’ The thirteenth session reaffirmed and defined transubstantiation as

    that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood – the species only of the bread and wine remaining – which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation.

    5. Protestants claimed that the only source and norm for the Christian faith was Holy Scripture (the canonical Bible without the Apocrypha). The doctrine of Sola Scriptura was rejected at Trent. The Council affirmed two sources of special revelation: Holy Scripture, for example, all the books included in the Latin (Vulgate) version and traditions of the church (including the ‘unwritten traditions’).

    6. In Roman Catholic theology, an indulgence is a remission of temporal punishment due to sin, the guilt of which has been forgiven. Under Roman Catholic teaching, every sin must be purified either here on earth or after death in a state called purgatory. The selling of indulgences was not part of official Catholic teaching, though in Martin Luther’s era the practice had become common. (Luther was appalled by the sermon of an indulgence vendor named John Tetzel who said, ‘As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.’) The Council called for the reform of the practice, yet damned those who ‘say that indulgences are useless or that the Church does not have the power to grant them.’

    7. In Catholic theology, purgatory is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial sins (a lesser sin that does not result in a complete separation from God and eternal damnation in hell), or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions. The Council affirmed the doctrine of purgatory and damned anyone who claimed that

    after the grace of justification has been received the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out for any repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be paid.

    8. In the twenty-fourth session, the Council issued decrees on marriage which affirmed the excellence of celibacy, condemned concubinage, and made the validity of marriage dependent upon the wedding taking place before a priest and two witnesses. In the case of a divorce, the right of the innocent party to marry again was denied so long as the other party was alive, even if the other party had committed adultery.

    9. At the request of Pope Gregory XIII, the Council approved a plan to correct the errors to the Julian calendar that would allow for a more consistent and accurate scheduling of the feast of Easter. The reform included reducing the number of leap years in four centuries from 100 to 97. Although Protestant countries in Europe initially refused to adopt the ‘Gregorian calendar’ (also known as the Western or Christian calendar), it eventually became the most widely accepted and used civil calendar in the world.

    The declarations and anathemas of the Council of Trent have never been revoked. The decrees of the Council of Trent are confirmed by both the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the official ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’, 1992.

  • #2
    1. The Council of Trent was the most important movement of the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation, the Catholic church’s first significant reply to the growing Protestant Reformation. The primary purpose of the Council was to condemn and refute the beliefs of the Protestants, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, and to clarify Roman Catholic belief. Approximately forty clergymen, mainly Roman Catholic bishops, were in attendance during the twenty-five sessions over the next eighteen years that the Council convened.

    It’s worth noting that the number increased to well above that as the council progressed.

    At the first session there were:
    “Besides the three presiding legates there were present: Cardinal Madruzzi, Bishop of Trent, four archbishops, twenty-one bishops, five generals of orders……forty-two theologians, and nine canonists, who had been summoned as consultors.”

    At the 17th session “Besides the three papal legates and Cardinal Madruzzo, there were present at Trent ten archbishops and fifty-four bishops” – presumably also the theologians ands canonists.
    (quotes from the Catholic Encyclopedia).

    2. Protestants endorse justification by faith alone (sola fide) apart from anything (including good works), a position the Roman Catholic Church condemned as heresy. During the sixth session, the Council issued a decree saying that

    If any one saith, that the received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema (Canon 24).

    Note - this does not apply to Initial Justification. Session 6 was concerned with Justification and chapter 6 says:
    “…we are therefore said to be justified freely, because that none of those things which precede justification-whether faith or works-merit the grace itself of justification. For, if it be a grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the same Apostle says, grace is no more grace.” (my emboldening)

    3. The Protestant Reformers rejected the Apocrypha as part of the biblical canon. The Apocrypha (the Greek word for ‘hidden’) is a collection of ancient Jewish writings which were written between 300 and 30 BC in the era between the Old and New Testaments. During the fourth session, the Council issued a decree damning anyone who rejected these books:

    An anathema is not a damning of someone. It is a formal excommunication from the Church, performed by the Pope (so I have read). It was very rarely performed and is now defunct.


    Comment>

    • #3
      Originally posted by Bede View Post
      2. Protestants endorse justification by faith alone (sola fide) apart from anything (including good works), a position the Roman Catholic Church condemned as heresy. During the sixth session, the Council issued a decree saying that

      If any one saith, that the received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema (Canon 24).

      Note - this does not apply to Initial Justification. Session 6 was concerned with Justification and chapter 6 says:
      “…we are therefore said to be justified freely, because that none of those things which precede justification-whether faith or works-merit the grace itself of justification. For, if it be a grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the same Apostle says, grace is no more grace.” (my emboldening)
      Martin Luther's comment rings to this effect: "If any man doth ascribe aught of salvation, even the very least, to the free-will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright."

      The Catholic Church taught that we are saved through a combination of God's grace, the merits that we accumulate through penance and good works, and the superfluity of merits that the saints before us accumulated; the reformers responded, “sola gratia”. The Catholic Church taught that we are justified by faith and the works that we produce, which the righteousness that God infuses in us through faith brings about. The reformers responded, “No, we are justified by faith alone, which lays hold of the alien righteousness of Christ that God freely credits to the account of those who believe”. The Catholic Church taught that we are saved by the merits of Christ and the saints, and that we approach God through Christ, the saints, and Mary, who all pray and intercede for us. The Reformers responded, “No, we are saved by the merits of Christ Alone, and we come to God through Christ Alone”. The Catholic Church adhered to what Martin Luther called the “theology of glory” (in opposition to the “theology of the cross”), in which the glory for a sinner's salvation could be attributed partly to Christ, partly to Mary and the saints, and partly to the sinner himself. The reformers responded, “No, the only true gospel is that which gives all glory to God alone, as is taught in the scriptures.”


      3. The Protestant Reformers rejected the Apocrypha as part of the biblical canon. The Apocrypha (the Greek word for ‘hidden’) is a collection of ancient Jewish writings which were written between 300 and 30 BC in the era between the Old and New Testaments. During the fourth session, the Council issued a decree damning anyone who rejected these books:
      Correct. Luke 11:51 states, "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation."

      "The traditional Jewish canon was divided into three sections (Law, Prophets, Writings), and an unusual feature of the last section was the listing of Chronicles out of historical order--placing it after Ezra-Nehemiah and making it the last book of the canon. In light of this, the words of Jesus in Luke 11:50-51 reflect the settled character of the Jewish canon (with its peculiar order) already in his day. Christ uses the expression "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah," which appears troublesome since Zechariah was not chronologically the last martyr mentioned in the Bible (cf. Jer. 26:20-23). However, Zechariah is the last martyr of which we read in the Old Testament according to Jewish canonical order (cf. II Chron. 24:20-22), which was apparently recognized by Jesus and his hearers."

      This means that the same Old Testament canon, according to the Jewish tradition, is arranged differently than how we have it in the Protestant Bible today. This was the arrangement to which Jesus was referring when he referenced Abel and Zechariah, the first and last people to have their blood shed--as listed in the Old Testament Jewish canon. Obviously, Jesus knew of the Apocrypha and was not including it in his reference.

      An anathema is not a damning of someone. It is a formal excommunication from the Church, performed by the Pope (so I have read). It was very rarely performed and is now defunct.
      I would like to understand more regarding the practice of declaring someone an anathema as now "very rarely" performed and even "now defunct". From the headlines over the years, I have read where Pope Francis has declared everyone from Atheists to Dogs going to heaven, and even he himself as a claimed Vicar of Christ has no right to judge homosexuality. But I have yet to hear him even mention Protestants or those rejecting the papacy and Roman Catholic Church as anything but an anathema (being cut off from salvation). Here's the definition of an Anathema.

      Anathema:

      Anything laid up or suspended; hence anything laid up in a temple or set apart as sacred. In this sense the form of the word is anath(ee)ma , once in plural used in the Greek New Testament, in Luke 21:5 , where it is rendered "gifts." In the LXX. the form anathema is generally used as the rendering of the Hebrew word herem , derived from a verb which means (1) to consecrate or devote; and (2) to exterminate. Any object so devoted to the Lord could not be redeemed ( Numbers 18:14 ; Leviticus 27:28 Leviticus 27:29 ); and hence the idea of exterminating connected with the word. The Hebrew verb (haram) is frequently used of the extermination of idolatrous nations. It had a wide range of application. The anathema_ or _herem was a person or thing irrevocably devoted to God ( Leviticus 27:21 Leviticus 27:28 ); and "none devoted shall be ransomed. He shall surely be put to death" ( 27:29 ). The word therefore carried the idea of devoted to destruction ( Numbers 21:2 Numbers 21:3 ; Joshua 6:17 ); and hence generally it meant a thing accursed. In Deuteronomy 7:26 an idol is called a herem = anathema , a thing accursed.

      In the New Testament this word always implies execration. In some cases an individual denounces an anathema on himself unless certain conditions are fulfilled ( Acts 23:12 Acts 23:14 Acts 23:21 ). "To call Jesus accursed" [anathema] ( 1 Corinthians 12:3 ) is to pronounce him execrated or accursed. If any one preached another gospel, the apostle says, "let him be accursed" ( Galatians 1:8 Galatians 1:9 ); i.e., let his conduct in so doing be accounted accursed.

      In Romans 9:3 , the expression "accursed" (anathema) from Christ, i.e., excluded from fellowship or alliance with Christ, has occasioned much difficulty. The apostle here does not speak of his wish as a possible thing. It is simply a vehement expression of feeling, showing how strong was his desire for the salvation of his people.

      The anathema in 1 Corinthians 16:22 denotes simply that they who love not the Lord are rightly objects of loathing and execration to all holy beings; they are guilty of a crime that merits the severest condemnation; they are exposed to the just sentence of "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord."

      God bless,
      William
      Comment>

      • #4
        William,

        Regarding point 2. Salvation is a big topic that I have no intention of getting into here.

        I was just pointing out that the Catholic Church does not teach what you say regarding Initial Justification.
        [COLOR=#B22222]“…we are therefore said to be justified freely, because that none of those things which precede justification-whether faith or works-merit the grace itself of justification. For, if it be a grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the same Apostle says, grace is no more grace.”[/COLOR] (my emboldening).

        I think it couldn’t be much clearer than that.

        Regarding point 3.

        The important thing is what the Catholic Church means by anathema. And it does not mean what you are claiming. Matt Slick of C.A.R.M. – a virulent anti-catholic - understands this. His words are worth reading.
        [COLOR=#B22222]We can see that the Bible uses the term to mean separated from Christ. If someone is separated from Christ, he is lost. But is this what is meant in Roman Catholic theology? Apparently not since a Catholic anathema is not a pronouncement of damnation (separation from Christ) but a declaration that an individual is excluded from the fellowship of the Roman Catholic church which includes denial of Communion and the Catholic sacraments.

        So, when official Roman Catholic documents pronounce anathema it means that the person is not in right standing with their church, is not to take the sacraments, and might be under discipline. It is an excommunication and at the very least a very strong condemnation of the person's actions and/or beliefs as being against the Catholic Church.[/COLOR]
        (Anathema | carm)

        Bede
        Comment>
        Working...
        X
        Articles - News - SiteMap