In the debate on the heroes of the Reformation, a key problem was to define precisely the relationship between men and their ideas. This problem was never resolved. Both Catholic and Protestant agreed, at least tacitly, that man, being feeble, imperfect and doomed to err, needs an earthly guide. But here the similarity in their positions ended. For Catholics, the surest guide was the Church; for Protestants, it was Scripture, interpreted by each individual according to his own lights. Catholics regarded the Protestant position as vulnerable to the sin of pride. To prove their case, they compared the words with the deeds of the Reformers and found discrepancies between them; these discrepancies were proof, to Catholics, that the Reformers, by choosing a path which lay outside the Church, had strayed from the truth. In this way Catholics sought to knock Protestant heroes from their pedestals.


Historical Argument Religious Matter Henry VIII Sovereign Authority Political Connotation 
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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisabeth Israels Perry

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