Monday, September 2, 2019
Church Reform :: European Europe History
Church Reform The Reformation of European religion in the 16th century cannot be generally attributed to the secular spirit of the Italian Renaissance. Although the peasants saw bishops and abbots as part of a wealthy and oppressive ruling class and rebelled against the Roman Catholic Church for reasons primarily pertaining to the lavish adornments used by those aforementioned, their power was not great enough, nor did their reasons carry enough clout to start a reformation movement throughout Europe: that job was accomplished by those already having some, however small, social or religious power, such as the monk Martin Luther, the accomplished priest and lawyer Jean Cauvin, and King Henry VIII of England. The Lutheran and Calvinist Reformations were very similar in principle, although the Lutheran Reformation was less widespread. Luther and Calvin held that not mere abuses of the Roman Catholic Church needed correcting, but that the Catholic Church itself was wrong in principle. Luther's cause for reformation of 16th century European religion came from his unnatural paranoia that he was damned. He had problems convincing himself that his spirit was pure and that he would go to heaven; internal distress raged within him about the awful omnipotence of God, his own insignificant existence in comparison, and his apprehensiveness of the devil. His personal problems would not yield to the existing manners of assuring oneself that he/she was headed for heaven such as sacraments, alms, prayer attendance at Mass, and assorted "good works." Luther solved the problem, however, by believing that good works were the consequence and external evidence of an inner grace, but in no way the cause of th is grace. He felt that if one had faith in themselves, the religion, and God, then good works would manifest themselves because of it. This was Luther's doctrine of justification by faith. Luther was then involved in various events that provided for the spreading of Lutheranism, albeit sometimes indirectly. The agitation that Lutheranism was creating throughout Europe had revolutionary side effects where the reforming religious spirit was mistaken for that of a social and economic one, especially in Germany in the 1520s. A league of imperial knights, adopting Lutheranism, attacked their neighbors, the church-states of the Rhineland, hoping by annexations to enlarge their own meager territories. In 1524, the peasants of a large part of Germany revolted due to thoughts stirred up by preachers that took Luther's ideas a little too far: anyone could see for himself what was right.