A Brief History Of The Corruption Of Worship

…Through these witnesses of the Holy Scriptures and a hundred more, which one may provide here, we say the pope’s Mass, which he claims to be an offering for the living and the dead, is false, and an impure sacrifice of bread according to Malachi (Mal. 1:7). So, through them Christ’s Supper and His sacrifice on the cross once accomplished, are in large measure abridged, and thus Christ’s blood is trampled upon. This proves that (the Mass) is only a human invention, which Gregory, who also instituted the Introit, Kyrie eleison, and the Canon, began to build in A.D. 594. Gelasius instituted the collects, hymns, tracts; and Sergio, A.D. 694, offertories, incense, and such like. Remnants of Pelagianism and scholasticism accounted for vigils, funeral services, and prayers read at set times, and such like. Likewise against the honor of Jesus Christ through the above inventions, they also claim purgatory’s reality, which was begun in A.D. 400, through people falsely embellished, and only confirmed in A.D. 1000. For through Christ (only), we have forgiveness and remission of our sins.

Johannes a Lasko, (1499–1560), Dutch Confession of 1566 in Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries, ed. James T. Dennison, Jr., (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books) 2.890


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  1. I don’t disagree with his historical survey, and I understand that Łaski is writing from a specific vantage point in the Reformation, but it’s odd to put the Mass and purgatory in the same category as hymns or prayers at set times, and he conflates circumstance and element. Is the kyrie eleison really of the same order as the Mass? It seems that Łaski is trying to show that a number of the smaller aspects of pre-Reformation worship he dislikes spring from the same well as a idolatrous worship (yes, I know that there’s a difference between the implementation of these aspects and their canonization by the church, but he doesn’t acknowledge that here, except for purgatory), and are therefore suspect due to their origins.

    • Cameron,

      That it seems odd to us is the reason to read our older sources (e.g., confessions) and writers. They challenge our assumptions and help us to re-frame questions and issues. That all these things were seen as corruptions should alert us to be more sensitive to the history and nature of what Calvin called “the rule of worship.”

      Don’t be too quick to dismiss his critique.

  2. This is interesting:

    Regarding singing in the congregations of God, it also needs to be moderate, where it is used. The singing that was invented by Pope Gregory, which is called Contus [sic] Gregorianus, that is, “singing instituted by Gregory,” is rejected by us and by many other churches because it contains many falsehoods and erroneous matters. Also, if there are some churches in which there is no singing, but they have their own and true prayers in their place, such churches must not be reproached or rebuked, because the churches of God cannot have appropriate singing everywhere. We also know that even though the custom of singing in the congregations at sunrise is ancient, yet singing at sunset was not quickly introduced in the congregations and churches.

    Sandomierz Consensus (1570) in James T. Dennison Jr., ed., Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation: 1523–1693, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008–14), 246–47.

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