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Protestant Reformation



CATHOLIC CHURCH BEFORE THE REFORMATION

  • Church was the most powerful institution in Europe

  • With power over life on earth and the afterlife

  • Church declared whose birth was legitimate, whose marriage was lawful, whose wills were valid

  • Could "excommunicate" (exclude from church) Catholics who didn't agree with the clergy

  • Or charge nonconforming Catholics with heresy punishable by death.

ROME IN THE 15TH C.

  • Florence declined after death of Lorenzo the Magnificent in 1492 and rise of Savonarola.

  • Renaissance had shifted to Rome

  • Pope Julius II engaged in building projects

  • 1506 - St. Peters Basilica (Brunelleschi designed dome, Michelangelo painted Sistine Chapel)

  • Pope Leo X (r. 1513-1521) devoted to pleasures (boar hunts, festivals etc.)

  • Indulgences

  • To pay for building projects, festivals, luxuries etc. the Catholic church began to sell indulgences

  • Indulgences = distribution of favors from the "Treasury of Merits" -- a storehouse of surplus good works collected from saints in heaven. Sinners who bought indulgences would be forgiven and would spend less time (or no time) in purgatory (see below)

  • The Dominican friar, Johann Tetzel, famously sold Indulgences with memorable jingles.

CATHOLIC BELIEFS

  • Purgatory

  • ​Station between earth and heaven where Christian's atone or "purge" their sins.

  • Relics

  • ​Preserved physical remains of a saint or venerated person.

  • Ex: Piece of Jesus's cross, bones or clothing of saints, ash from the burning bush etc.

  • Relics drew visitors to churches to feel closer to God in the presence of the saints.

  • Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church

  • ​Baptism

  • Eucharist (Communion)

  • Confirmation (laying of hands of minister granting gift of Holy Spirit)

  • Anointing the Sick (and Last Rites) at moment of death.

  • Holy Orders (Sacrament making a man a bishop, priest or deacon)

  • Matrimony (Marriage performed by Priest)

CORRUPTION WITHIN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

  • Simony -- Buying and selling church offices

  • Pluralism -- Priests held several church offices at same time, paid lesser priests to do the work.

  • Absenteeism -- Clergy didn't show up for work

  • Nepotism -- Lucrative church offices were given to relatives

CHRISTIAN HUMANISM (Northern Europe)

  • Humanism in Italy

  • Promoted education

  • Revered the ancients (Plato, Aristotle, Cicero etc.)

  • Appreciated classical culture, texts and language

  • Looked at documents critically (studying words and meanings)

  • Secularism (not religious)

  • Northern Humanists

  • Applied ideals of humanism to church doctrine

  • In order to make people better Christians.

  • Paid more attention to early Christian literature

  • The Bible and writings of church fathers

  • Looked for truth and accuracy in early religious texts

  • In order to help Christians become more pious and moral.

  • Influence carried throughout Europe through printing press.

DESIDERIUS ERASMUS (1466-1536)


  • Dutchman devoted to ancient texts.

  • Wrote In Praise of Folly (1509)

  • Points out that Christianity is a kind of folly (foolish)

  • A belief in things "not seen"

  • Mocked monks, the pope and meaningless ceremonies

  • Erasmus wanted return to purer faith

  • ​Believed Church had lost sight of its original mission.

  • Said rigid Church ceremonies were substitute for genuine spirituality

  • ​People lit candles etc. but forgot the spirit behind the rituals.

  • Erasmus believed the life of Jesus should be model for Christians

  • By simply following Jesus, Christians could lead a life of sincere faith

  • As humanist:

  • Believed Christians should study the Scriptures and writings of early Church fathers.

  • Erasmus read and found errors in the Latin Vulgate

  • Latin Vulgate version of the Bible was the standard version used by the Catholic Church.

  • Wanted a revival of purer faith -- not rejection of traditional authority of the Church.


MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546)

MARTIN LUTHER'S LIFE


  • Youth

  • Born in Germany 1483 (during Northern Renaissance, Christian humanism)

  • Was an altar boy who sang in church choir

  • His abusive parents wanted him to be a lawyer

  • Age 23 Luther caught in a big thunderstorm, promised to devote life to God if he survived.

  • Luther became a monk with strict Order of St. Augustine

  • Pilgrimage to Rome 1510

  • Disillusioned by corruption, extravagance and lack of spirituality

  • 1511 he was sent to Wittenburg to teach at the university

  • Studied Latin, Greek and Hebrew texts of the Bible

  • Concluded that Catholic Church was inventing rituals, beliefs etc.

  • Selling of Indulgences

  • 1517, Luther wrote 95 Theses in Latin criticizing church practices (especially Indulgences).

  • Luther posted Theses on door of Wittenburg Church to stimulate discussion.

  • Someone took the document, translated it into German and made copies with the new printing press.

  • Pope Leo X charged Luther with heresy.

  • 1520 Papal Bull (edict) saying Luther risked excommunication unless he recanted 41 sentences from his writings within 60 days. Luther burned the bull

  • Martin Luther excommunicated but Holy Roman Emperor Charles V wanted more

  • Diet of Worms (Jan. 28 - May 25, 1521)

  • Luther tried for heresy

  • Frederick the Wise of Saxony kidnapped Luther to save him and kept him in his castle in Wartburg.

  • While hidden, Luther translated New Testament into German

  • Diet found Luther guilty, an outlaw and a heretic.

  • Made it a crime to help Luther and gave permission to kill without consequences.

  • German Peasants' War 1524

  • ​Popular revolt of German-speaking peasants empowered by Luther's beliefs that Christians don't need to follow authority of clergy.

  • Luther criticized injustices imposed on peasants but didn't support the rebellion

  • Luther didn't want to upset the natural social order - only favored religious reforms.

  • Wrote "Against the Murdering, Thieving Hordes of Peasants"

  • Revolt was supported by Zwingli and Thomas Muntzer.

  • Without Luther, the rebellion was squashed, more than 50,000 peasants died.

  • Married Katharina von Bora, a former nun, in 1525

  • Luther and Katharina had a "companionate marriage" based on mutual respect and equality

  • Set standard for Protestant marriages: women would be honored as wives, mothers and household managers.

LUTHER'S IDEAS

  • Luther never intended to create a new church - only to reform Catholic Church

  • Justification by faith alone (sola fide)

  • Christian don't have to work to achieve salvation (that is, "saved" from consequences of sins)

  • God would give Christians the gift of salvation if they had faith.

  • Primacy of the scripture (Bible) (sola scriptura)

  • Luther said many Catholic traditions, beliefs and rituals were not in the Bible.

  • The highest authority was the truth of the Bible (which Christians should read themselves)

  • Priesthood of all believers

  • All Christians spiritually equal in God's eyes

  • Monks, priests etc. didn't have any special spiritual qualities

  • Faithful don't need church or clergy to reach Jesus and God

  • Believed in sanctity of Baptism and Eucharist (both in Bible)

  • Baptism: Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist

  • ​Luther believed Baptism must take place at birth to atone for "original sin" - sin of Adam and Even passed down to all people before birth.

  • Eucharist (Communion): At the Last Supper, Jesus told his followers to "eat this bread, it is my body. Drink this wine, it is my blood." (Bible verse: Matthew 26:26)

  • Luther believed in "transubstantiation' - the bread and wine actually become Jesus's body and blood when Communion is performed.

CUSTOMS AND BELIEFS LUTHER REJECTED

  • Luther rejected five of the 7 Catholic sacraments (not Baptism or Eucharist

  • Rejected sacred status of clergy

  • Believed the Pope was fallible (was human and made mistakes), even corrupt

  • And rejected the ecclesiastical hierarchy of Pope, bishops, archdeacons

  • Also believed ministers should be able to marry (Luther married a former nun)

  • Rejected salvation through good works

  • Like doing pilgrimages, worshiping relics etc. to get into heaven.

  • Rejected monasteries and convents

  • Because salvation came from faith alone, not good works

  • Rejected use of archaic Latin in services and Bible

  • Services and Bible should be in the vernacular (locally spoken language)

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564)


  • A generation younger than Luther

  • Personal

  • Born "Jean Cauvin" in France

  • Like Luther, studied law then became a priest

  • Had a religious conversion that led him to speak out about need to reform Catholic Church

  • After "Affair of the Placards" in France in 1534 (reformers had placed placards denouncing Catholic mass around France)

  • French Protestants were jailed, executed or forced to leave.

  • Calvin went to Geneva Switzerland

  • Beliefs:

  • Rejected all things associated with Catholic Church ("Popetry")

  • Icons, images of Mary of Jesus, candles, altars, incense, bells etc.

  • Believed in "Predestination"

  • God has already decided who is going to hell or heaven.

  • The few "select" or "godly" will demonstrate their status by doing good works and staying away from all worldly temptations.

  • Christians must not sin

  • Not because of salvation but because sinning offends God's glory

  • Government

  • Believed only the "godly" ("elect") should be leaders in government (theocracy)

  • And Church should be governed by Presbyteries (elected bodies of devout laymen from the congregation)

  • Christians had a "calling" from God to work hard

  • This is the reason Calvinist communities like Dutch Republic, were successful.

  • Followers encouraged to live purely and be extremely disciplined

  • Geneva 1536

  • Perfect Calvinist community formed in Geneva, Switzerland

  • Ruled by the "elect" according to religious laws (theocracy)

  • Very strict rules (no dancing, no card-playing, no attending theater, 9 o'clock curfew etc.)

  • Offshoots

  • John Knox brought reformed church to Scotland - known as Presbyterians

  • Puritans wanted to "purify Church of England by getting rid of vestiges of Catholicism

  • Huguenots -- Calvinism adopted by some noble families to counter Catholic monarchs

HULDRYCH (ULRICH) ZWINGLI (1484-1531)

  • Pastor from Zurich, Switzerland

  • Influenced by grievances over the Swiss mercenary system.

  • Agreed with Luther

  • Clerical marriage

  • Catholic Church needed to be reformed

  • Supreme authority of Scriptures

  • Against fasting during Lent

  • No images, organs, incense etc. in churches.

  • Replacement of mass (Catholic service) with simple Communion service

  • Only two sacraments, Baptism at birth and Eucharist (Communion)

  • Disagreed with Luther

  • Zwingli was much stricter than Luther

  • ​His followers smashed organs, church decorations, art etc.

  • Believed in holding community services to replace the Catholic Mass.

  • Zwingli believed Eucharist only symbolic of divine presence

  • Luther believed in transubstantiation (see above)

  • Colloquy of Marburg (1529) meeting with Luther

  • Zwingli was killed in battle fighting Catholics.

ANABAPTISTS ("Rebaptizers")

  • Believed in delaying baptism until one could freely choose to receive grace as an adult. ​

  • Said infant baptism was not part of scripture.

  • ​And Jesus was baptized as an adult.

  • Anabaptists were heavily persecuted by both Protestants and Catholics

  • ​Imperial Diet in 1529 called for the death penalty for all Anabaptists.

  • Offshoots

  • Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites

  • Many fled to America (Pennsylvania)

RADICAL SECTS

  • Several groups rejecting Catholic Church authority began to form.

  • Many had fewer than 100 followers

  • Some radical beliefs

  • Holding property and spouses in common

  • Engaging in unusual rituals - like going into spiritual trances

  • Believing Judgement Day and the return of the Messiah was about to happen.

  • These radical sects (along with the Anabaptists) were heavily persecuted by both the Protestants and the Catholics beginning in the mid 1520s

  • Melchiorites

  • ​Followers of their prophet, Melchior

  • Wanted to create a "heavenly Jerusalem" on earth

  • Burned all books except Bible

  • Abolished private property

  • Practiced polygamy

  • Waited for imminent Judgement Day and return of the Messiah

  • Gained strong following in Münster (in northwest Germany)

  • Massacred by Protestants and Catholics

  • Radicals who were persecuted fled to Poland, Netherlands, England and New World

ENGLISH REFORMATION

HENRY VIII (see Tudors and Stuarts)


  • Previously considered the "Defender of the Faith" (Catholicism) (Title given to him in 1521)

  • Because he wrote an attack on Martin Luther.

  • Wanted to annul (dissolve) his marriage to Catherine of Aragon

  • Because she was too old to bear him a male heir

  • And because he wanted to marry Anne Boleyn (one of Catherine's Ladies in Waiting)

  • Justification for annulment:

  • ​Henry argued since she had been married to his brother before he died, he was doomed with the "Levitican curse" (Bible verse: Leviticus 20:16)

  • If a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an impurity; he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.

  • Catherine of Aragon

  • Was the daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain.

  • And aunt to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V

  • Catherine and Henry had a daughter, Mary

  • But Henry feared that Europe would not accept a female ruler.

  • Under the influence of HRE Charles V, the Pope refused to grant him an annulment​

  • So Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church

  • ​Declared himself head of the new Anglican (English) Church (Act of Supremacy 1534)

  • Divorced Catherine

  • Married Anne Boleyn

  • ​Later gave him a daughter, Elizabeth

  • Henry maintained all of the Catholic traditions, rituals, dogma

  • But confiscated valuable property of the monasteries

  • And sold the land to wealthy nobles (nobles now committed to maintaining Protestantism or lose their new land)

SIR THOMAS MORE (1478-1535)

  • Early proponent of Northern Humanism

  • Wrote Utopia in Latin in 1516

  • Describes an ideal society on an imaginary island

  • Condemned war, poverty, intolerance and other evils of the day.

  • Defined general principles of morality

  • Greed, private property, pride have all been abolished without Christianity.

  • Deeply devout

  • Member of English Parliament 1504

  • Remained loyal to Pope and refused to concede to Henry VIII's rejection of papal authority


COUNTER-REFORMATION (CATHOLIC REFORMATION)

With growing popularity of Protestantism, the Catholic Church set out to bring Christians back to Catholicism while preventing more Christians from converting to Protestantism.


COUNCIL OF TRENT (1545-1563)


  • Convoked by Paul III

  • Purpose:

  • To formally condemn principles of Protestantism

  • To get rid of worst Catholic church abuses

  • And reconfirm Catholic ideas

  • Seven Sacraments (see above)

  • Justification of works and faith combined.

  • Use of Latin Vulgate translated by St. Jerome as only accepted version of the Bible

  • Despite criticisms by Lorenzo Valla who said it was mistranslated from Greek

  • Celibacy for all clergy

  • Acceptance of monasticism (monks and nuns)

  • Belief in purgatory

  • Veneration of saints, relics and Virgin Mary (Jesus's mother)

  • Sale of indulgences reaffirmed (although without the worst abuses)

  • Reforms

  • Pluracy condemned

  • Seminaries in each diocese established to train priests

  • Index Librorum Prohibitorum 1564

  • Index of Prohibited books

  • Books the Catholic Church considered immoral or contained "theological errors"

  • Among the works - Johannes Kepler and Galileo's books

  • Roman Inquisition

  • Council of Trent gave new power to the Holy Inquisition

  • Convicting heretics

  • New tribunals (trials conducted by cardinals to convict witches, blasphemy, heresy.

  • Galileo was the most famous victim of the new tribunals

  • Baroque Art

  • Overly emotional, dramatic, big, opulent art, architecture and sculpture

  • Adopted by Counterreformation papacy to promote Catholic worldview

  • And increase appeal of Church

  • Jesuits

  • Council of Trent approved formation of a new religious order

  • Society of Jesus or Jesuits

  • Created by St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556)

  • Soldier in his youth

  • Had powerful religious experience which convinced him to be a "soldier for the church"

  • Jesuits were exclusive organization of strong, intelligent men

  • Members trained through "Spiritual Exercises"

  • Strict hierarchy and discipline

  • Papacy had to be a moral and religious force

WOMEN

PROTESTANTISM

  • Companionate marriage

  • After leaving the monastery, Martin Luther married former nun, Katharina von Bora

  • On the marriage Luther said it would "please his father, rile the pope, cause the angels to laugh, and the devils to weep."

  • He sometimes consulted von Bora on church matters

  • Their marriage became a model for other Protestant couples

  • Closing convents

  • Protestant women had lost the opportunity to become nuns

  • Education

  • Since Protestant were encouraged to read the Bible themselves (sola scriptura) women were encouraged to learn to read in order to help them with the spiritual education of their children

  • Mary and female saints

  • Protestant woman lost some status because of the lesser importance of Jesus's mother Mary and saints


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