In the 1540’s and beyond, when the Protestant Reformation had spread and taken hold in various places in Europe, the Roman Catholic Church met for a series of meetings called Council of Trent. At these meetings they wrote many canons and decrees that specifically addressed the theology of the Reformation (among other things). In these canons and decrees are very clear rejections of Protestant theology. Very often Rome used the term anathema (not maranatha!), a Greek word which means “accursed” (cf. 1 Cor. 16:22). Here are a few canons that clearly anathematize the theology of the Reformation. Note: I’ve emphasized the theological words under discussion in each canon.
– If anyone says that after the sin of Adam man’s free will was lost or destroyed, or that it is a thing only in name…let him be anathema.
– If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification…let him be anathema.
– If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone that justifies us, let him be anathema.
– If anyone says that he will for certain, with an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance even to the end, unless he shall have learned this by special revelation, let him be anathema.
– If anyone says that the Catholic doctrine of justification as set forth by the holy council in the present decree, derogates in some respect from the glory of God or the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, and does not rather illustrate the truth of our faith and no less the glory of God and of Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.
– If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law were not all instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, or that there are more or less than seven [listed here], or that any one of these seven is not truly and intrinsically a sacrament, let him be anathema.
– If anyone…denies that wonderful and singular change of the whole substance of the bread into the body and the whole substance of the wine into the blood…which change the Catholic Church most aptly calls transubstantiation, let him be anathema.
And the list goes on. This isn’t semantics or politics. Rome understood the Reformation and she anathematized many of its major emphases: bondage of the will, justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, the sacraments, and so forth. Though I am a Protestant who strongly disagrees with Trent and many of the doctrines of Rome (and therefore am under their anathemas), I do recommend reading these documents for a better understanding of the Reformation – and for proof that the Reformation still matters today.
The above canons can be found in The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent trans. Rev. H. J. Schroeder, O.P. (Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, 1978).