15.1.1 Erasmus of Rotterdam; Translator, Researcher, And Humanist Pioneer; The Movement Back to Evaluating Greek Manuscripts To Get To The Originals;  The Danger in Integrating Christianity and Worldly Philosophies Or Religions

The Reformation was never the work of a solitary man bravely facing all others. In fact, there were pre-Protestants going back as far as the eighth century and probably further.

Byzantine iconoclasm was an eighth-century movement back then to eliminate all the statues and icons adorning all the churches. Protestants integrated this as part of the Reformation.

Claudius of Turin was a 9th-century bishop who was declared a heretic by some for his views but managed to survive and even thrive in the church.  Centuries before Martin Luther Claudius taught faith as the only requirement for salvation, challenged the supremacy of Peter, denied praying to the dead, and denied the infallibility of the church.[1]

In the 12th century, we see the Waldenses inspired to start a movement back to the New Testament as the word of God and the rule of faith. One response by the Roman Catholic Church to this movement was the start of the Inquisition. Another response eventually was to start a crusade to stamp out this movement, by literally killing the participants.[2]

John Wycliffe and Jan Hus (links bring up articles on this website) are also reformers whose voices were instrumental in the Reformation movement.

While never considered a Protestant, Desiderius Erasmus was an example of a man in the Roman Catholic faith who tried to reform at least parts of the church from within.

Born in 1469, about 14 years before Martin Luther, Erasmus is considered one of the greatest scholars of his time. He is of interest to OriginalChristianity.net for several reasons.  He wrote the first modern Greek New Testament from ancient manuscripts. In the process, he led the way for the process of textual criticism that compares manuscripts to eliminate errors and works toward producing a text closer to the original. His commentaries on that process influenced many bible scholars including reformers like John Calvin.  He was a critic of the abuse of power by the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and especially the papacy. And, because of that, some criticize him for inspiring Martin Luther whose 95 theses were on that topic, especially on the matter of indulgences.

However, Erasmus was never close to being a reformer like Luther or Calvin, he stayed an ordained priest in the Catholic Church even though Luther tried to recruit him to his cause. Because of that dynamic, however, he was treated suspiciously by both sides.  Still, he was a major force at the time of the Reformation.

Erasmus’ life pursuits did not exclusively focus on Scripture and theology, he became one of the first best-selling authors, a status only made available because of the recent invention of the printing press.[3]

Erasmus was the illegitimate child of a priest and a doctor’s daughter which goes to show you that while celibacy was the rule of the day, priests openly had children who were acknowledged, and also might explain a little of Erasmus’s concern with clergy and the church having lax standards.

Unfortunately, Erasmus’s parents died while he was young. Erasmus allegedly became a monk not by choice but because his money was embezzled.

Nevertheless, Erasmus was a scholar of the highest order. He was a brilliant lecturer, he taught at various universities including Cambridge, and John Colet sought to get him to lecture at Oxford. Colet wanted him to lecture on “primitive theology” showing that that was a point of emphasis at the time and something Erasmus had some expertise on especially from his work in translating.

Primitive theology primarily refers to the theology of just Jesus Christ and his apostles, but some also include the early church fathers in that area of study.[4]  It is the position of this website that only original Christianity, that is, what Jesus Christ and his apostles practiced and taught is the true revelation that teaches us what the Christian faith is.

For this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when you received from us the word of the message of God, you accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also works in you who believe. (1Th 2:13 WEB)

We have documented in other places that immediately following the apostles there was a “non-Pauline” period where all of the great revelation taught by the apostles in their epistles appears to have been set aside while any number of “Christianities” competed to be the recognized form of Christianity in the period immediately following the passing of the apostles.

Thus, Erasmus’s interest in primitive Christianity is of extreme importance to us as it reflects a movement back to Scripture as the source of truth concerning our faith.

Erasmus is probably most famous for his translation of the Greek New Testament, published in 1516. He used just 7 manuscripts, none older than the 12 century, and had to translate part of Revelation from the Latin Vulgate because he could not find a Greek copy.

His first edition is famous for not including 1 John 5:7–8.

For there are three who testify: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and the three agree as one. (1Jn 5:7-8 WEB)

This verse was instrumental in support of the Trinity, but Erasmus said that he did include it because he didn’t find it in any Greek manuscripts.  Under pressure, he did include it in later editions even though he had a friend check Codex Vaticanus in the Vatican library which also did not include the words. Other changes included changing “repent” in Matthew 3:2 from meaning to “do penance” to “change your mind”, and Erasmus also translated musterion in Ephesians 5:32 as “mystery”  rather than sacrament which was a huge challenge to Roman Catholic thinking about sacraments.  Erasmus’ translation revised Luke 1:28 from “Mary, full of grace”, to “Mary, favored one”. This challenged the Roman Catholic doctrine about Mary’s role as being a dispenser of grace after Christ. Erasmus also translated the Greek word logos differently in John 1: 1. Erasmus’ translation translated it to verbum, meaning rational discourse which is what he derived from the passage. These all go to demonstrate how Erasmus led the field in trying to get back to the original texts and meanings of the scriptures.[5]

Up until his time, the dominant translation in use was the Vulgate, penned by Jerome a millennia before him. Although so many of the manuscripts we have are in Greek and we think that is the original language for many texts, the Roman Catholic church, starting with Jerome, began producing the text in Latin. Jerome reasoned that the Western Empire primarily spoke Latin whereas many did not speak Greek, and so a better choice for a Western Empire-wide version was Latin. However, that was no longer the case by the time Erasmus came on the scene in the 15th century.

Erasmus produced a very scholarly work, resulting in a new version of the New Testament in Greek as well as a new Latin translation, side-by-side on each page.  All of this was controversial and attracted much interest.  He was very keen to present to people everywhere the work that would help them see the lives and ministries of Jesus and the apostles in ways that they hadn’t before.  Erasmus wanted to clarify the Scriptures for the people of his day as he saw the commentaries that some people gave for different passages as absurd, erroneous, or ill-adapted, being based on Jerome’s Latin Vulgate.[6]

Erasmus is also noted for being a humanist, and not just any humanist, the “Prince of Humanists.”[7] Humanism was just being developed in the 14th century, but it is described as the major intellectual movement in Europe in the 16th century.

“Humanism was the major intellectual movement of the Renaissance. In the opinion of the majority of scholars, it began in late-14th-century Italy, came to maturity in the 15th century, and spread to the rest of Europe after the middle of that century. Humanism then became the dominant intellectual movement in Europe in the 16th century.” [8]

Humanism developed to become an integral part of higher education even in our day and time. Education in the humanities, the same root word as humanism, consisted of grammar, poetry, rhetoric, history, and moral philosophy.[9]  A focus of this philosophy is that the goal of education is to develop the highest standards of human virtue. The topics studied above are constructed to achieve that goal.

This is still relevant today as anybody who has gone to college or even considering college is going to be affected by this philosophy. The bachelor of arts degree that many people get in college these days is focused on the humanities and even people who study the sciences are sometimes required to include studies in the humanities.

“A humanities major is an interdisciplinary field that studies human society and culture. Humanities majors include art history, English literature, history, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, foreign language, gender studies, political science, and theology. A humanities major is typically a bachelor of arts degree.

Many four-year colleges and universities require students to gain a liberal arts education during their first two years of study.”[10] 

Notice that the Scripture, the word of God,  is not in that list of promoted subjects.  While Erasmus’s humanism studied scripture intensely, humanities programs today can totally ignore it. Integral to the promotion of humanism was classical literature, more specifically the reading of classical philosophy.

Erasmus put Stoicism and Platonism on a plane with scripture.

“The commandments of Jesus he saw as similar to the best precepts of Stoicism and Platonism. Their purpose is to subject passion to the rule of reason.”[11]

Like many of his time, Erasmus was dissatisfied with the spirituality he saw in monks, monasteries, and the clergy. To him, they had become “havens of idleness and ignorance”[12]. He did believe the doctrine was important and advocated for Orthodox doctrines like incarnation and the Trinity. However, to Erasmus, the Christian life is one of warfare on the inside. He viewed outward events such as the sacraments as still important, but his focus was on what was going on inside of people, which was contrary to the times.  Because of this focus on what was happening inside of Christians Erasmus’s support was sought after by both the Roman Catholic Church and participants in the Reformation.

The Dangers in Integrating Christianity and Worldly Philosophies

As noted in the article, Indoctrination and Deception Part 2 – The Trinity and Other Doctrines That Christians are Indoctrinated With – Not All Things Are Better Caught Than Taught, Erasmus, as a humanist, is often praised by Christian theologians and others for integrating Christianity and classical philosophy.

While I think Erasmus had noble intentions as well as great abilities, I don’t agree with that praise.

As I noted in the above article, while there may be some elements of certain philosophies that are in alignment with Scripture, a wholesale integration of any worldly philosophy and the Scriptures is unscriptural. We are warned in Colossians 2:8.

Be careful that you don’t let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ. (Col 2:8 WEB)

The point is that only the revelation contained in Scripture is reliable for truth. There are passages in Plato, Aristotle, or other philosophers that ring true, and may even say the same thing as Scripture.  But there is too much error in worldly philosophies to be considered anywhere near the level of Scripture.

For example, “do unto others as you have others do unto you” is stated in Matthew 7:12.  Confucius makes a similar proclamation, as does Buddha.[13]

However, it is a huge mistake to try to integrate the philosophies of Confucius or Buddha with Christianity.

For example, the Scriptures say that we are born with a sinful nature, and our struggle is overcome it by the power and grace of God.

 For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing. For to desire is present with me, but I don’t find it doing that which is good. For the good which I desire, I don’t do; but the evil which I don’t desire, that I practice. But if what I don’t desire, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the law, that, to me, while I desire to do good, evil is present. (Rom 7:18-21 WEB)

Therefore, people are not naturally good, and will always fall short of the perfection required to be in God’s presence. Thank the Lord that Jesus Christ redeemed us and gave us a way out of that path of destruction.

In contrast, Confucius says that all people are naturally good. That is a diametrically opposed idea to Christianity. That is just one example where Confucianism can lead people astray.

Christianity is centered on the belief in a supreme being, the Father God, Yahweh, and his plan of salvation.

For Yahweh who created the heavens, the God who formed the earth and made it, who established it and didn’t create it a waste, who formed it to be inhabited says: “I am Yahweh; and there is no other. (Isa 45:18 WEB)

Buddhism rejects the idea of a creator God. These concepts are clearly in opposition. Truly following Buddhism is to reject Yahweh.

Here we see an example where two different philosophies teach something the same as or very similar to Christianity, the Golden Rule. But you can’t integrate Buddhism or Confucianism with Christianity.

The same reasoning applies to all attempts at integrating Christianity and other worldly philosophies.

For example, some people say Christianity and Platonism are compatible because they both teach an immortal soul.

The Phaedo, a story by Plato, tells the story of the events and conversations that occurred on the day that Plato’s teacher, Socrates, died.  Socrates said,  “Haven’t you realized that our soul is immortal and never destroyed?” So Socrates is presenting here the concept that a lot of us hear around us at funerals and other places, that when someone dies their soul just passes on, and it is usually to heaven.

I have heard a lot of Christians say this too.

But, on the other hand, Scripture teaches us that when people die they are dead until they are raised in a resurrection.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with God’s trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first, (1Th 4:16 WEB)

Scripture clearly teaches that those who believe in Christ will have eternal life, but not everyone.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (Joh 3:16 WEB)

There is salvation in none other, for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, by which we must be saved!” (Act 4:12 WEB)

Platonism teaches that people have immortal souls. Christianity teaches that only those that accept Christ will live eternally. There is a clear difference. Platonism and Christianity are not in sync here at all.

Karma is another example of a principle taught in philosophy or religion that has a similar teaching in Christianity. For example, Hinduism teaches karma which is similar to the Christian teaching that you reap what you sow.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. (Gal 6:7 ESV)

But Hinduism has many gods. But Hinduism teaches reincarnation. Your life is one in the line of many lives, and this will go on and on. In Hinduism, Jesus is just another god and teacher.  There is no integration of Hinduism with Christianity.  However, the similarity between karma and the above verse is a good place for a Christian to start trying to communicate with a Hindu.

By the time of the Reformation, Christianity, especially the orthodoxy promoted by the Roman Catholic Church and other organizations stemming from it, was more worldly philosophies like Platonism, than the simple truth of God’s word as contained in the Scriptures.

Platonism is defended by Christian apologists, especially for its promotion of what are called transcendentals. Transcendentals can be described as invisible attributes like the concepts of beauty, divine nature, and virtue.

Scripture does call us to focus on unseen and eternal things.

while we don’t look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2Co 4:18 WEB)

So there is a similarity between Christianity and Platonism in their focus on invisible things.

Matthew Barrett, editor-in-chief of Credo Magazine and professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently addressed the embrace versus rejection of Platonism by Christian scholars in an online article. He says that these pro-Platonism scholars are not naïve and understand that Platonism “contained grievous errors and was insufficient at best.” He presents that because of Platonism’s focus on transcendentals, i.e., invisible things, that led Plato to present a regimen for a “just society based on the virtuous life and the happiness that awaits anyone who searches for God.”

Barrett’s point is that of all the world’s philosophies, Platonism is the superior one and pushes people in the world to “live and move and have our being in divinity because we are designed to ascend to divinity until we at last see God and find our greatest happiness in the beatific vision.”[14]  That is high praise, but if people don’t see or ignore his warning that Platonism has serious errors they could be misled.

What is important here to me is Barrett’s recognition that there are serious errors in Platonism as well as it being completely insufficient to understanding the kingdom of God as well as obtaining eternal life in Jesus Christ. So yes, there are some similarities between the knowledge of God contained in the Scriptures and Platonism. Those similarities could be a jumping-off point to discuss with someone who is philosophically trained about the gospel.

On the other hand, we have examples where people have taken philosophical concepts that are not in Scripture and nevertheless have applied them to produce major doctrines that are not scriptural.

For example, in The Sacraments Do Not Save You; Your Faith in Christ Does ; The Gospel of Salvation in the Scriptures Vs The Sacramental Life as Necessary for Salvation Gospel Part 1 we discuss the origin of the concept of the sacraments. Augustine’s theology is credited as being the foundation of sacraments in the church. The Neoplatonist (a later form of Platonism) theory is stated thusly:

“When the Word is joined to the element or natural substance, the outcome is a sacrament.”[15]

So, to Augustine and others including Luther, taking the words in Scripture, “This is my body. Take and eat” and combining them with the natural substance of bread makes a sacrament. Likewise for the blood. For Catholics, the natural substance of oil with different Scripture verses combine to make the sacraments of confirmation, last rites, and ordination.

The glaring problem is the above quote is not scriptural.  and,  as we saw above,  Erasmus pointed out that the very word that the concept of a sacrament is derived from,  sacramentum,  is actually a mistranslation of the Greek word that should be translated as “mystery”.

So, here we have an example where philosophy leads people away from the truth of the gospel. The doctrine of sacraments was developed to say that sacraments are rites instituted by Christ to give grace. And that simply is not true. God’s grace abundantly flows to the believer starting with the remission of sins when Jesus Christ is accepted into the heart of the believer. God gives grace to the humble (1Peter 5:5), and all grace abounds to those who give cheerfully (2 Cor 9:7-8). God’s grace flows to any believer in weakness, injury, need, persecution and/or distresses, where they depend on him (2 Cor 12:9-10) Those dispensations of grace are directly from Scripture. Dispensation of grace from sacraments is absolutely not a concept taught in Scripture at all.

So again we look at the warning in Colossians 2:8.

Be careful that you don’t let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ. (Col 2:8 WEB)

The application of philosophy that created the doctrines that make up the sacramental doctrines can lead people astray from how grace works according to Scripture. At the very least it just brings an element of confusion.

We are called as ambassadors for Christ. And as ambassadors, to reach people we often speak the language of the people we are talking to. And, yes, that means that to some degree we need to talk in terms that people understand.

So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. (Act 17:22-23 ESV)

In the Book of Acts, Paul continues to preach, and what he does is compare the truth to what these pagans are practicing. He tells them that God doesn’t live in man-made temples. He tells them that God isn’t a gold or silver or stone image created with artistic imagination.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, (Act 17:24-30 ESV)

Paul is relating to them in terms they can understand. So, in this light, there is a case that when talking to a philosopher or one that is philosophically based, we compare things in Scripture to things in philosophy. Likewise for people in the religious field.

So, as we’ve seen above, many philosophies or religions have points where Christianity and that philosophy or religion say the same thing. But to us Christians, the sum and substance of what the Christian faith says is in the Scriptures. So, the similarities to other religions and philosophies are just starting points to preach Christ and the word of God.

Philosophies are constructed to push the limits of what things mean and to derive more meaning using speculation, hypotheses, assumptions (a priori statements), and both deductive and inductive logic. And therein lies the danger. The word of God is not something that we can speculate about, pushing the limits to derive more meaning than what is actually in the verse. Inductive logic is very useful in producing compelling arguments but when dealing with absolutes like spiritual realities based on what has been revealed we need to the conclusiveness that can only be found with deductive logic. The Scriptures are not just the seeds of our faith, they are our faith in sum and substance.

God’s ways are not our ways, and it is not up to our puny minds to think we can figure out the spiritual world because we have high IQs and understand how to construct complex ideologies.

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa 55:6-9 ESV)

People, thinking that we understand God in the spiritual realm because of our genius capacities is something that we need to realize is so far from the truth. His ways are so much higher than ours that it is like having an Einstein like mind with his 160 IQ who was able to figure out a little of the physics in the universe, and thinking we can understand someone with a trillion IQ who actually made all the things that Einstein and others like him are trying to figure out. Thinking that we can figure out God is just nonsense which is what God calls the wise and clever ones of the world.

Don’t deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise in the ways of this world, you should give up that wisdom in order to become really wise. The wisdom of this world is nonsense in God’s sight. That’s why Scripture says, “God catches the wise in their cleverness.” Again Scripture says, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are pointless.” (1Co 3:18-20 GW)

People, revelation is far different than just this or that man’s thought. Revelation is words of knowledge and wisdom given by God on how things actually are. We think we are so clever because we can calculate, compute, imagine, theorize, speculate, and put together long arguments for one case or another.  But we’re really not, compared to God.  We’re not in the same league.

The word of God is not some man’s thought. It’s not the conclusion of a bunch of really smart people getting together and deciding how things are. It is insight from Yahweh, God Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and earth, the great God that made us and everything around us farther than we can see. And that great God, our father, Yahweh, tells us this through his apostle Paul.

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (2Co 10:4-5 ESV)

Strongholds in the above verse are not stone castles built on high hills, they are constructions of thoughts. Strongholds are these powerful arguments that sway people’s lives. And the question is whether the stronghold in question builds the word of God in people’s lives or not. Strongholds are movements in the lives of people that sweep people towards this ideology or that. Temperance, to ban alcohol because it is evil, is a stronghold. Suffrage, all people should vote, is a stronghold. Free love, sex without limits, is a stronghold. The LGTBQ plus movement is a stronghold. The integration of worldly philosophy into Christianity is a stronghold. Democracy is a stronghold. Communism is a stronghold. So are imperialism, the right to life, the right to choose, and every other ideology, philosophy, or religion that people band together for and rally behind.

The above items are examples of strongholds, ideologies that capture people’s thinking which then helps guide their lives.

Yes, all of those things are things that we are supposed to compare against the knowledge of God as given in his revelation. True Christians compare every argument to the knowledge of God as contained in the word of God, and where it aligns with the knowledge of God, they stick to it. But, where it diverges from the word of God, they abandon it for it is not God’s plan, but rather something that deviates men from God instead of to him.

In investigating strongholds, we compare the ideology with scripture, and stick with what is in line with scripture.  I believe in the right to life. I discuss the right to life in Is Abortion Murder?

The scriptures don’t really discuss democracy, but my opinion is that  democracy is better than communism, fascism, or dictatorship.  Most important to Christians should be whether their leaders are safeguarding their ability to worship freely, and live their faith in freedom.

But, more important than mine or your opinion, is what the word of God says about the topic. Let’s look a little at Scripture regarding our response to our government. In Romans chapter 13, we are instructed to obey government authorities so that we can live peaceful lives. I confess I don’t understand it sometimes, but Scripture says the way that the governments of different nations are set up as been set up by God, and to not fight it as a citizen. (That is not to say that one government won’t have a just cause for going to war against another. Were talking about whether citizens within a government should obey or not.)

Let every soul be in subjection to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those who exist are ordained by God. Therefore he who resists the authority, withstands the ordinance of God; and those who withstand will receive to themselves judgment. For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Do you desire to have no fear of the authority? Do that which is good, and you will have praise from the same,  (Rom 13:1-3 WEB)

We’re supposed to be good citizens, obeying the laws, paying taxes and working for the good of not just us, but also our fellow countrymen. On the other hand, there are those times when “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).  Yahweh delivered people out of jail even when they were incarcerated for just speaking the word of God (Acts 5:19). This is an example of examining a stronghold, that is, an ideology and comparing it to the word of God. I would say to anyone that chooses to make the stand to not obey their government that they are absolutely sure that the spirit is leading them and not their own egos.

God is the supreme creator, and our wonderful loving father at the same time. As a supreme creator, his ways are above our ways so we cannot always understand them. But as a loving father, he is always seeking to give us the best, and those that follow him, trust Him in this and reap the benefits both now and forever.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Mat 7:11 ESV)


In conclusion, Erasmus was by all means an extraordinary man. While he never went as far as to embrace Martin Luther and the Reformation, he made some extremely worthwhile contributions to all Christians. His voice against the indulgences and the lax discipline of the clergy and papacy helped in those causes. His work in seeking to find the original meanings of the books in the Bible was extremely valuable as he was one of the first to point out some important mistranslations that reinforced erroneous doctrines.

Erasmus was very keen to present to people everywhere a version of the Bible that would help them see the lives and ministries of Jesus and the apostles in ways that they hadn’t before.  What a huge blessing that was.

On the other hand, Erasmus went too far in promoting the benefit of classical philosophy.  By the time of the Reformation, philosophy was extremely integrated into education and Erasmus is a prime example of that. Erasmus is recognized as the “Prince of humanists”. Erasmus worked to promote everyone to be trained in the humanities which especially promotes classical philosophies. The truth is that worldly philosophies have been used to create false doctrines like sacramental theology and others. And they continue to do so. And this is due in part to Erasmus’s promotion of the acceptance of classical philosophy in general.

Because of the emphasis of the humanities in education, it is necessary to understand some philosophy and to be able to recognize where it aligns with and where it opposes the word of God. This can be extremely useful in reaching people who are philosophically trained with the word of God. But, as captivating as philosophy can be, it can never be the standard. Philosophy can never be the standard for evaluating the word of God. Only the word of God is the standard for truth. So all philosophy must be evaluated against the word of God. And we are warned to not let philosophy or the traditions of man rob us of the truth of the knowledge of God and the more than abundant life that it makes available.


[1] Proto-Protestantism, this article in Wikipedia gives a good overview of the many contributors to the Reformation movement before Martin Luther.

[2] See the article 11.76 The Waldenses, Why Believers Complied With Roman Catholic Doctrine, Bans on Reading the Bible, The Inquisition and other Repressive Measures on this website for more.

[3] World History Encyclopedia, Desiderius Erasmus

[4] Erasmus, Encyclopaedia Britannica, at https://www.britannica.com/biography/Erasmus-Dutch-humanist

[5] Renaissance of the Bible: 500th Anniversary of Erasmus’ Greek text, the Foundation for Reformation

[6] The New Testament of Erasmus (1516), Digital Encyclopedia of European History, https://ehne.fr/en/encyclopedia/themes/european-humanism/cultural-heritage/new-testament-erasmus-1516#:~:text=Erasmus’s%20New%20Testament%20in%201516,Europe’s%20religious%20landscape%20for%20centuries.

[7] The Story of Christianity, Justo L Gonzales, Harper Collins, New York, P. 10

[8] Oxford bibliographies, Humanism

[9] Encyclopaedia Britannica, Humanism, Origin and the meaning of the term humanism

[10] What Is a Humanities Major? (And What You Can Do With This Degree)

[11] The Story of Christianity, Justo L Gonzales, Harper Collins, New York, P. 11

[12] ibid

[13] Living Peace International, Golden rule; Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, The Golden Rule

[14] First Principles: No Plato, No Augustine, Matthew Barrett

[15] Luther’s Large Catechism, Martin Luther, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis Missouri, 1978, P. 100  Augustine is quoted in this catechism without citing where the citation was found. However, it does show that the Catholics and the Lutherans share some but not all of the same foundation for their definitions of sacraments.

(c) 2024 Mark W Smith, All rights reserved. last revised 5/2/2024

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