Causes and Effects of the Protestant Reformation

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What happens when people start to break away from the entity that bound an entire civilization together for over a thousand years? How does one go from unparalleled devotion to God to the exploration of what man could do? From absolute acceptance to intense scrutiny? Sheeple to independent thinkers? Like all revolutions preceding it, the Protestant Reformation did not happen overnight. Catholics had begun to lose faith in the once infallible Church ever since the Great Schism, when there were two popes, each declaring that the other was the antichrist. Two things in particular can be identified as the final catalyst: a new philosophy and simple disgust. The expanding influence of humanism and the corruption of the Catholic Church led to the Protestant Reformation, which in turn launched the Catholic Reformation and religious warfare. Humanists had been calling for reform in the Catholic Church long before Martin Luther penned his Ninety-Five Theses. Humanism was an intellectual and cultural movement of the Renaissance that emphasized the expansion of mans’ capacities. “[Humanism] was an attempt to discover humankind’s own earthly fulfillment. . . [it] developed an increasing distaste for dogma, and embraced a figurative interpretation of the scriptures and an attitude of tolerance toward all viewpoints” (Sporre 310). This perspective could not differ more from the Church’s strict reliance on tradition. People’s outlook on the world changed, but the Church continued on with what had previously worked. It soon became clear that reform in the Church was not in the foreseeable future, so people decided to take matters into their own hands. As humanism spread throughout Italy and northern Europe, more and more people agr... ... middle of paper ... ...olic Church, propelled the Catholic Reformation and religious warfare. A separation of this magnitude brought conflict yet progressive improvements to both sides. Religious tolerance was at last emerging and never again would a single organization wield so much power. Works Cited Duiker, William J., and Jackson J. Spielvogel. World History. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomsom Learning, 2001. 374-438. Flory, Harriette, and Samuel Jenike. A World History: The Modern World. Volume 2. White Plains, NY: Longman, 1992. 42. Howe, Helen, and Robert T. Howe. A World History: Ancient and Medieval Worlds. Volume 1. White Plains, NY: Longman, 1992. 533. Simon, Edith. The Reformation. Morristown, NJ: Silver Burdett Company, 1966. 35. Sporre, Dennis J. The Creative Impulse: An Introduction to the Arts. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996. 310-378.

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