History is very clear about the founding of Protestantism by Catholics Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox and Henry VIII, along with other former Catholics.
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Martin Luther
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: John Calvin
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: John Knox
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Henry VIII
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: John Wyclif
But if they started in the sixteenth century, and the Catholic Church dates to the time of Christ, there goes their legitimacy - the Catholic Church traces its history to Christ, Protestants cannot. Their standing was further degraded by the enormous bloodletting ordered by the founder of Anglicanism, who slew more than 57 000 innocents. Calvin also was not entirely innocent. Claiming the right to private interpretation of the scriptures, he decided that Michael Servetus had no such right, and Servetus ended up burned to death.
How many executions was Henry VIII responsible for?
Why did John Calvin have Michael Servetus burned at the stake for heresy?
The Catholic Church assembled and preserved the Bible. As the early Christians were persecuted by Romans and others, and ordered to hand over their scriptures for burning, the Church decided to fix those texts which were worth defending, and in the late fourth and early fifth centuries the Church proclaimed which texts were inspired, and gave the world the Latin Bible.
Martin Luther found that some of the Old Testament texts disagreed with his new beliefs, and had a number of them removed, and the Protestant bible today remains incomplete. He attempted to remove also the letter of James for the same reason. Incredibly, some Protestants argued that somehow Catholics 'added' these texts. But without the Catholic Church, Protestants today would have no Bible at all.
Martin Luther and the "Epistle of Straw"
The Catholic Church teaches that its beliefs can never be overturned. In 1930 at the Lambeth Conference, the Anglicans decided that contraception and abortion could be excused, and other Protestant organisations followed. Following the example of Henry VIII they also allow divorce and remarriage. The Catholic Church has not moved on these teachings, and cannot do so. Any Catholics who accept or approve abortion, contraception or divorce and remarriage are in breach of Catholic laws and offend God.
So how did we get the bible? For the first 1 500 years after Christ, with brief exceptions due to heresy, the only Christians in the world were Catholics, believing what Catholics believe today. All over Europe there were monasteries, abbeys, convents and other Catholic places. So many that in many parts of Europe it was possible to walk from one to another in a single day. Monasteries provided medical treatment, education and food to those in need. They had libraries and scriptoria where monks copied bibles, and beautifully adorned them. Such handwritten bibles took half a lifetime to produce, as there was no printing until the fifteenth century.
In today's values, half a lifetime might amount to a million dollars, the cost of buying a Rolls Royce plus two Bentleys and a Lexus. For this reason, those on public display were chained to something solid, to protect theft.
Bibles were written in Latin, following the translation of St Jerome. This was no problem, as Latin was like a 'world' language. Anyone who could read and write could understand Latin. And Latin was a world language for the medical world, including in Australia as recently as 1960 - all medical practitioners and pharmacists had to learn Latin. No one was allowed into Cambridge without five years of Latin.
Today English is a world language, and in many countries it is understood by those who can read and write.
However, there were translations into other languages. The Catholic Church made great efforts to ensure that translations were accurate. The Protestant claim that Luther was the first to translate into the vernacular is untrue.
Now we get to a more recent claim for legitimacy. Protestants say that the Catholic Church fell into error. They argue like this:
Catholic Deception and Errors Are RAMPANT
They seem to believe that in 2 000 years the Catholic Church has never become aware of claims of this sort, which the Church has heard before from the attacks of all varieties of heretics.
The Catholic Church has the Answer by Paul Whitcomb
Protestants have retained two sacraments, of the seven in the Catholic Church. Having no priests (except when they get them ordained by schismatic bishops), they have no access to confirmation, the Blessed Sacrament, penance, extreme unction and holy orders. But given that the Catholic baptism can be performed by lay people, Protestants who are baptised as children are in fact Catholics. And given that the sacrament of matrimony is administered by the bride and groom (in the Catholic Church the priest is there as a mandatory witness) to each other, their marriages are valid also.
At the Reformation, much of Catholic teaching was retained by Protestants. They carried on under the momentum of the faith for centuries. But today they have allowed divorce, abortion, contraception and are now in the process of accepting sodomy. Soon there will be little or nothing of Christianity left, and Protestantism, having split into 30 000 different religions, each claiming to be right and all others wrong, will disappear.
But there are small groups of independent Protestants who are a bit stricter than most. Their claim to legitimacy is that there were 'Christians' from the time of Christ, but in the fourth century they split away, because Constantine had somehow taken over and led the Church into error, so that only the small groups of 'Christians' remained true to Christ.
From the fourth century to the sixteenth century there were thousands of 'family' churches, hiding away from the Catholics who persecuted them. Each Sunday they would meet secretly and read their bibles. It doesn't worry them that there is not a shred of evidence for this, nor that families could hardly afford a bible before printing made this possible, nor that those who could not read could not understand Latin.
So today we have a new phenomenon. Christians go to their local churches, and pray each Sunday. But one day the pastor says something against their beliefs. No problem, they just move on to the next local church, until it happens again.
Can Protestants be saved? The Catholic Church says that no one who dies outside the Catholic Church will save his soul. However, the Church allows for souls who seek truth and have not so far found it. That is, if they are in error through no fault of their own. Protestant children, who are baptised and have not seriously offended God will be safe, since they are in fact Catholics.
Those who arrive at judgement as confirmed Protestants are going to have a difficult time. There are no Protestants in Heaven. Christ established a kingdom. He expects us to become part of that kingdom. Sadly, the Protestants have decided to go elsewhere.