Where Was Our Church Before Luther And Zwingli? (10)

From the confession of our opponents, who cannot deny that before Luther and Zwingli, there were innumerable persons who professed our faith and protested publicly against the papal errors. See what is related of the Waldenses and Albigenses, Hussites, Wycliffites, Lollards and Picards by Thuanus (de Thou), Historiam sui temporis 6 and 27 (1625), 1:111‐34 and 540–57; Aeneas Sylvius (Pius II), “Historia bohemica,” 35 Aeneae Sylvii…Opera (1551/1967), pp.102–5; Poplinerius, L’ Historire de France (1581), 1:7–8, 24–26; Charles Molinaeus (Dumoulin) “De Monarchi Francorum,” Opera omnia (1658), 3:2012 and not a few others who trace their origin long before the Reformation. Nor can Eck deny it when he says that Luther did nothing else then recall heresies previously condemned in the Waldenses, Albigenses, Hussites and others (Enchiridion of Common Places [trans. F. L. Battles, 1979], pp.186–89, esp. p. 186). Cochlaeus acknowledges that the Lutherans received their doctrine from Hussites (Historia Hussitarum) 8* [1549], p. 283). Nor must we all miss here the testimony of Reynerius, 300 years before, and inquisitor against the heretics, concerning the dwellers in the enclosed valleys (commonly called Waldenses), of whose antiquity and integrity he assures us in his book written about them and published by Gretzer and republished in Bibliotheca Patrum: “Among all the sects,” says he, “which still are or were, none was more dangerous to the church then the Leonistarian” (or the poor people of Lyon [i.e., the Waldemses], against whom the treatise is inscribed). “And this from three causes. The first is because it is more ancient than all; for some say that it has continued from the time of Sylvester (I), some from the time of the apostles. The second because it was more widely spread; for there is scarcely any land in which this sect is not found. The third because while all the sects by their coarse blasphemies against God horrify the hearers, this has a great appearance of piety in that they live justly before men and truly believe all things concerning God and observe all the articles contained in the Creed, only they blaspheme the Roman Church and clergy” (cf. Reinari Ord. Praedicatorum contra Waldenses haereticcos in La Bigne, Magna Bibliotheca Veterum [1654], 4:749). Claudius Sesselius, Archbishop of Turin, in a book which he wrote against the Waldenses, relates “that the Waldensian sect took its rise from a certain Leo, the most religious man, in the time of Constantine the Great, the first Emperor of the Christians, who being opposed to the avarice of Sylvester, and the too great liberality of Constantine, preferred to follow poverty in simplicity of faith than to remain with Sylvester and be contaminated with a rich benefice, to whom as many adhered as thought well of the faith” (Adversus errors et sectam Valdensiam disputationes [1520], vol. v–vi). Moreover that their religion and faith were conformed to ours is gathered not only from the passages cited of Thuanus and Aeneas Sylvius, in which the principal heads of their belief are given, but also from the ancient confessions and their writing quoted both by John Paul Perrin, Histoire of the Waldenses and the Albagenses (1624) and a few years before by Joannes Legerus, pastor in the same place, his Histoire Generale de Elgises Evangeliques des Valdes 3–4. (1669) (1669/1980), 21‐30ff., where he accurately treats of their antiquity and faith.

Francis Turretin | Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 18.10.20.


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One comment

  1. The Protestant Alliance (founded by Lord Shaftesbury) have made the Waldenses a subject for particular study. One speaker, Chris Richards told us that there is no evidence either way about which time for or mode of baptism they adopted during the middle ages and previously. Do you know any different?

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