The Reformation: an Opponent or Proponent of the Renaissance

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To say the Reformation of the 16th century is a “counter” to the Renaissance of the 14th through 17th centuries is to suggest the Reformation movement opposed the Renaissance. This generalization has merit in that some aspects of the Reformation challenge the beliefs that grew out of the Renaissance, but overall, it is a faulty interpretation as Renaissance ideas often fostered the development of the Reformation in many ways.

As previously stated, the two movements reciprocate one another in a few instances. However, the one monumental difference lies in the core reasoning behind the movements. The Renaissance, meaning “rebirth,” is exactly that, a new beginning. Coming out of the late Middle Ages human knowledge was lacking. However, through the Renaissance, an appreciation for life and living in the now was fostered through newfound information in the fields of science, politics, and art, to name a few. Conversely, the Reformation, although equally as dynamic, was more concerned with the issues of the church. More specifically, how one would achieve eternal salvation, either through faith and works, a Christian ideal, or through faith alone, a Lutheran/Protestant ideal.

These few differences are juxtaposed by the many similarities the two movements share. Most obviously, the Renaissance and Reformation began in Europe, Italy and Germany respectively. As for timing, the two began at different times, but shared a peak of popularity in the 16the century. Finally, the movements, arguably, were instigated by the actions of single men. For the Renaissance, Francesco Petrarca, or Petrarch, is dubbed the “Father of Humanism,” as Renaissance learning grew out of his promotion of classicism. As for the Reformation, Martin Luther and his Ninety-Five Theses are thought to have initiated the schism of the Catholic Church. Additionally, it is believed that the creation of the printing press fueled the production of literature that made these reformations possible....
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