Home » Course Material » Background to the Reformation

 

Background to the Reformation

 

Background to the Reformation

I

Did Luther tear apart a united Christendom?
Were the Reformers impatient? immoderate? unfaithful? simply wrong?

There were many tensions and crises on many fronts:
princes akin to warlords;
towns in tension with rural dwellers;
the Holy Roman Emperor in tension with kings and princes;
tension within the church between
(1) conciliarists and papalists,
(2) scholastics and humanists,
(3) those who sought
 greater spiritual depth and those contented with
e.g., masses for the dead and
 indulgences.
     a shift from agricultural economy to an urban entrepreneurial economy.

II

Features of the turbulence:
[A] Religious upheaval:
Hussite movement
Waldensians
Late mediaevalists who sought simpler expression of the Christian faith
devoid of pomp and
 perversity

[B] Objections to Papal Power:
Erastianism
The question of Rome’s primacy
The precedent of France and England
Germany’s objection despite its political fragmentation

[C] Renaissance Humanism (see next week)

[D] Ecclesiastical corruption and public perception of it

 

III

The nature of the clergy
a: higher clergy
b: lower clergy
c: public perception

 

IV

The religious life of the common people
a: the prevalence of fear
b: the propensity for “revelations”
c: the place and proliferation of relics
d: the traffic in indulgences
e: the primacy of Jesus the Judge
f: the godliness of, e.g., the Brethren of the Common Life
g: mysticism
h: the nature of, e.g., the Devotio Moderna

 

V

The religious consequences of urbanization

VI

The influence of Occam
The authority of the church
The Council of Constance

 

 

 

VII

Other Forces:
[A] economic
[B] social unrest
[C] printing press
a: theological tomes
b: tracts and treatises, “occasional” writings
c: pamphlets
[D] new universities

 

Reverend V. Shepherd