PROTESTANT FORMALISM AND INTOLERANCE
Martin Luther boldly protested against the Catholic system of "righteousness by good works," insisting that it is God’s unmerited grace, offered in the sacrifice of Jesus, which allows the sinner to be free of his deserved condemnation and death sentence. To Luther “salvation is a new relationship with God, based not on any work of merit on man’s part, but on absolute trust in the divine promises.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> However, even within his own lifetime this emphasis on relationship began to slip back into the medieval model of a government-supported church that demanded conformity to a set doctrinal formula. The Lutheran theologians became obsessed with academic arguments over issues such as the wording of creeds, the role of good works and the physical presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. These disputes tended to alienate the common people who could not understand the philosophical arguments that absorbed the attention of the theologians.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
The Lutheran princes turned the cause of the gospel into a political tool to further their own ambitions. Germany became a battlefield, the Catholics attempting to consolidate the areas under their control, and the Protestants doing the same in the areas where the prince was a Protestant, setting up a Lutheran state church in the place of the old bishop-ruled Catholic churches. The Lutheran cause degenerated into military battles for territory, political battles for influence, and theological battles over creeds.
In Switzerland the prominent reformer Huldreich Zwingli rejected tradition in favor of the Bible as the only binding source of authority for the Christian. In some points he went farther than Luther, insisting on a symbolic rather than the actual physical presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. Luther and Zwingli agreed on many points, particularly salvation by faith alone, but their disagreement concerning the Lord’s supper became so bitter that it split the Protestant Church. “To Zwingli Luther’s assertion of the physical presence of Christ was a remnant of Catholic superstition…Luther declared that Zwingli and his supporters were not even Christians…their disagreement unfortunately split the Evangelical ranks.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
<![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]>In Zurich, where Zwingli lived, a debate arose concerning baptism. The “Anabaptist” movement took the position that infant baptism was unscriptural. When adult leaders began to be rebaptized, Zwingli and the Zurich city council rose up in fierce opposition.“The Zurich government ordered Anabaptists drowned, in hideous parody of their belief...Everywhere the hand of the authorities, Catholic and Evangelical, was heavy on the Anabaptists”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Imprisonment, torture and burning, the classic tools of the Papacy, were used against them. The Protestant movement, which had suffered so much under Catholic church-state persecution, began themselves to look to the oppressive power of the state to enforce “orthodox” religious doctrine.
Continue to next section: CALVINISM, ENGLISH “REFORMATION”
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]>Williston Walker, History of the Christian Church, (New York NY, C. Scribner, 1918) pg. 338.
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]>“ Emphasis was on pure doctrine and the sacraments, as the sufficient elements of the Christian life. For the vital relationship between the believer and God which Luther had taught had been substituted very largely a faith which consisted in the acceptance of a dogmatic whole. The layman’s role was largely passive, to accept the dogmas, to listen to their exposition from the pulpit, to partake of the sacraments and share in the ordinances of the church…It was a tendency often called ‘dead orthodoxy” (Walker pg. 495).
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]>Ibid p. 364
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]>Ibid p. 367