Finals Reformation Focus Question

Jeremy Keeshin

At the time of the Renaissance, a need for change and a question of salvation triggered the Protestant and later the Catholic Reformation. Humanism was spreading from Italy northward and was planting the seeds for the Christian Humanism movement, which tried to improve humans in a religious sense. A Christian Humanist, Desiderius Erasmus, spoke of change in the corrupt church, his movement failed to produce results. Martin Luther, an ex-German monk, followed up on the ideas of Erasmus. This started the Protestant Reformation. However the roots for the Protestant Reformation began earlier than this. The corruption of the church was a major factor. The Popes at this time were often failing to perform their duties up to par and were caught up in finances. Many members of the clergy were participating in the practice of pluralism, the holding of more than one position. This led to absenteeism, when others were being paid off to do the duties of these clergy members. Because of this, many Catholics were dissatisfied with the behavior of the church. Concurrently, the selling of indulgences was going on at an outrageous rate. Indulgences, often in the form of relics, supposedly reduced the time in purgatory before entering heaven. The idea of indulgences was accepted, but the monetary side was frowned upon. This led Luther to try for reform, but when internal reform was not possible he decided to split with the church. He opposed the Catholic dogma that both faith and good works were needed for salvation by saying that only faith was needed. He then went on to speak against the Pope and the selling of indulgences in his Ninety-Five Theses. Luther wanted to eliminate all sacraments but the Lord’s Supper and baptism, and allow the clergy to marry. These ideas all conflicted with Catholicism so the church decided to

Finals Reformation Focus Question

Jeremy Keeshin

excommunicate him. However, his movement gained strength and Lutheranism in Germany was founded and in 1555 was officially tolerated with the Peace of Augsburg. Other types of Protestantism sprung up in Switzerland such as Zwinglianism and Calvinism. Zwingli agreed mostly with Luther on the basic concepts however, they greatly disagreed on the idea of transubstantiation. Calvin, from France brought up the idea of predestination, where people are predetermined whether or not they are going to be saved. Calvin also set up a theocracy in Geneva, which was the center of Protestantism, with a law body called the Consistory. In England, Henry VII separated from the Catholic Church. The new and continually strengthening church in England was known as the Anglican Church. Another division of Protestantism, the Anabaptists, were the most extreme group and consensually hated by the other sects. The main effect of the Protestant Reformation, besides the split in Christianity, the elimination of monasticism and indulgences, and the centralization of the family, was that it caused the Catholic Reformation. After the Protestant Reformation, the church was not in such a good position, so it decided to try and reaffirm the Catholics belief with the Jesuits, the Council of Trent, and a reformed papacy. The Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits, founded by Ignatius of Loyola, was a group of educated priests designed to promote complete church obedience. The popes started to change when Paul III realized that change was needed and started the Reform Commission to determine the wrongs in the church. Paul III also started the Council of Trent, where many important Catholic religious figures met to reiterate the teachings of Catholicism. The Catholic Reformation helped the church stabilize their position in the world of Christianity. It reestablished the main Catholic ideas in addition to condemning the

Finals Reformation Focus Question

Jeremy Keeshin

selling of indulgences and showed that the church was unified with a central religious credenda. Both the Catholic and Protestant Reformations were revolutionary in the sense that they reinvigorated people with a feeling of religious meaning. Radical groups existed on both the Protestant side with the Calvinists and the Catholic side with the UltraCatholics. These extremist religious ideas sparked the religious wars that would soon follow. The Catholic and Protestant Reformations were times of religious revival in Europe that were pivotal in the Renaissance period.

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