The Reformed Church is Not the Completion of Luther’s Reformation
Here on this blog I recently again pointed out that there are church-dividing differences between Calvinism and Lutheranism, between the so-called “Reformed” Church and the Churches of the Augsburg Confession. Pointing this out always upsets Calvinists who do, wrong as it is, sincerely believe that the Reformed Church is a rightful and legitimate heir of Luther’s Reformation, in fact most believe it is the “completion” of Luther’s Reformation. But it is not. Reformed Christianity, that is, the churches that are heirs of the work of Zwingli, Bucer and Calvin, represent, not a Reformation of the Church, but rather, its deformation. Herman Sasse captured the truth of the situation well when he wrote:
The Reformed conception of an evangelical church embracing both Lutherans and Reformed has come to have considerable importance in the history of the church. It has determined the ecclesiastical policy which the Reformed Church has adopted in its dealings with Lutherans from the days of Zwingli and Calvin down to the present. This explains the persistent struggle of Calvin and his followers for recognition, in the Religious Peace of 1555, as adherents of the Augsburg Confession. This explains the opposition of the “Great Elector”to the distinction between the “Reformed” and the “adherents of the Augsburg Confession” in the Peace of Westphalia, and his advocacy of the term “Evangelical” as a common designation for both Lutheran and Reformed. This explains too, why none of the German Reformed princes had any conscientious scruples at all about converting, or merging, the Lutheran Church of their territory into a Calvinistic church…for every genuine Calvinist, the Lutherans do not form another church, but only a backward part of the one evangelical, reformed church, which needs help to finish what is still wanting to make it completely reformed.
Hermann Sasse, Here We Stand, Nature and Character of the Lutheran Faith (trans T. Tappert), Augsburg Publishing House, 1946, rights later assigned to Lutheran Publishing House, Adelaide. Thanks to Mark Henderson for this quote.