Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)


Religious Studies


Alexander Angelov

Committee Members

Michael Daise

Jennifer Lorden

Randi Rashkover


The term "Protestant" indicates "protest," suggesting that Protestant self-identity is driven by schismatic attitudes. On the contrary, this thesis resituates Martin Luther and John Calvin, the two most famous Protestant Reformers, within their theological identity as continuous with the early church. To do so, this project examines the treatment of the church fathers in Luther's and Calvin's writings. Both have a great respect for church tradition and invoke the fathers polemically to criticize what they saw as the excesses of late medieval scholasticism in the Catholic Church. In addition, Luther and Calvin hold the fathers in high regard while strictly subordinating their doctrinal authority to that of scripture. However, Calvin engages a much wider range of patristic sources than Luther, and the dialectic of God's law and gospel is not nearly as central to Calvin's patristic theology as it is to that of Luther.