This is much older than the Reformation. It develops already in the 13th century, but comes to the foreground in nominalism. Why? Because realism sees the essences of things. “Idea” comes from idein seeing. Eidos, “idea,” means the picture, the essence, of a thing, which we can see in every individual thing. Of course this is an intuitive spiritual seeing, but it is still seeing, and it is expressed in the great art.
The great art shows the essences of things, visible to the eye. In nominalism we have individuals. How can they communicate? By words. It is the only way in which this can be done. Therefore if God has become the most individual being, as we have seen in Ockham (ens singularissimum), then we can get from Him not by a kind of intuition of His Divine essence, as expressed in all His creations, but by His word which He speaks to us. So the word becomes decisive against the visual function.
Now the importance of the word against the sacraments appears already in Wyclif.
Again I must say: this is not yet Reformation, because the word is the word of the law: it is not yet the word of forgiveness. And this is always the difference between Reformation and pre-Reformation.
If there is a Pope, he must the spiritual leader of the true Church, which is the Church of the predestined; otherwise he is not really Pope, I. e., the Vicar of Christ, the Spiritual power from which all spiritual power is derived, but he is a man who falls into error. He is not able to give indulgences; only God is able to do so. Here you have the first statement against the indulgences, before Luther’s 95 theses. On y God can give and can release what He has ordered. And if the Pope is not living in humility, in charity and in poverty, he is not the real Pope. Here you have again the angelic pope of the radical Franciscans and of Joachim di Fiore. When the Pope, however, receives the worldly dominion – as he has done; the Constantinian gift was the great foundation of the political power of the Pope, which was a falsification historically, but which was a part of the political power of the Pope, that he was the prince of Rome at the same time in which he was the spiritual leader – if the Pope accepts such a dominion, as he did, of course, then he is a permanent heretic. It is heretical for the Pope who is a Spiritual power to become a prince. And if he does this, he is the Antichrist. We know this word from the Reformation, and from the Bible. It is a term going all through Church history, used by sectarians who criticized the Church. They say: If the Pope represents Christ – which is his claim – but is the opposite of Christ, namely the ruler of this world, he is the Antichrist.