Religious Ideals: Protestant Reformation vs. Counter-Reformation

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The late medieval Catholic Church faced monumental crises during the Avignon papacy, the Great Schism, the Conciliar period, and the Renaissance papacy. The leadership of the pope was called into questions due to inappropriate behaviors such as, corruption and political manipulation. Many laity and intellectual felt a sense of spiritual crisis. As a result, criticism of the church gradually rose. By 16th century, religious movements and protests were spreading throughout Europe. Lutheran, Zwinglian, Calvinist, and Anabaptism were examples of different religious protests against the Catholic Church. All those protests were later known as the Protestant Reformation. In return, the Catholic Church responded with a Counter-Reformation, which led by the Jesuit order and the Council of Trent, to fight Protestant movements and address some internal criticism. These two opposing reformations had distinct interpretation of the Scripture that translated to fundamental difference in doctrine, practice, and ecclesiastical structure of the church. Likewise, there were some minor differences in different Protestant movements. Firstly, the distinction in Scripture’s interpretation manifested into different kind of doctrines, which were highlighted in purgatory, salvation, sacraments and devotion of saints. Adherents of the Catholic Church believed that there existed a doctrine called purgatory, or the process of cleansing the sinful soul to prepare for entry into heaven by buying indulgences granted by the pope. The other side of the spectrum, however, did not share the same wavelength. Protestants generally did not believe in the existence of this ‘temporary punishment’ after life. Zwingli’s “List of errors of the Roman Church”, emphasized this point by stating that there were no teachings of purgatory in the Scripture. According to the Luther’s Theses no. 37, “Any true Christians whatsoever, living or dead, participates in the benefit of Christ and the church; and this...
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