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Hist 104 Purdue Hw 1

By Jianxincyy0312 Feb 26, 2013 797 Words
Chen, Yeyuan
January 27, 2012

Religion in the 16th Century
History 104

Historians regard the 16th Century as the century in which the rise of the West occurred. In Europe, the Protestant Reformation initiated by Martin Luther gave a major shock to the authority of the Papacy and the Rome Catholic Church. The European politics were dominated by religious conflicts. Why the power of the religion could have such a great impact on the Western World at that time and eventually lead to the Thirty Years’ War towards the end of the century? Perhaps we can find the key from the contents and connotations of the bibliography during that period of time. By reading several materials assigned in the source book Perspectives from the Past, I found that no matter what kind of religions, Protestant or Calvinism, their goals can be concluded as the same: to reform the Roman Catholic Church or even to create new churches instead. In 16th century, religion was expected to play a central role in the lives of individual Christians. According to Sebastian Lotzer, the gospel does not cause rebellions and uproars, because it tells of Christ, the promised Messiah, whose words and life teaches nothing but love, peace, patience and unity. Saint Ignatius of Loyola also mentioned in The Spiritual Exercises, “All judgment laid aside, we ought to have our mind ready and prompt to obey, in all, the true Spouse of Church our Lord, which is our holy Mother the Church Hierarchical.” As we can see, the religion was highly respected and expected by people at that time. The power and authority of Roman Catholic Church were even over the imperial power. But during that time, Catholic Church was gradually losing the faith from people. Finally, the revolution against the religious authority happened. In The Twelve Articles of the Peasants of Swabia (the Articles) by Sebastian Lotzer, the peasants showed their great dissatisfaction and grievance to the landlords and complained the serious exploitation. As the Articles mentioned, the Church commanded peasants to pay the large tithe and force them to do additional work without the agreement. The representatives of peasants admitted that it was not the gospel that drives some antichrists, but the devil, the deadliest foe of the gospel. When it came to this sentence, I started to think of Martin Luther. Though the Peasants’ War was after Luther’s appeal of reformation, it’s still not Luther’s original idea. As Martin Luther mentioned in the Large Catechism, he focused on the importance of reading and studying the Catechism and advocate the spirit of love, peace, patience and unity. But the Catholic Church failed to those things. They discouraged personal study of Bible; the Catholic believed in what certain people and tradition have said, rather than what God had said in the Bible, which is the point that the Protestant strongly disagreed with. Martin wrote: “Many regard the Catechism as a simple, silly teaching which they can absorb and master at one reading.” Obviously, that’s impossible. The Church intentionally didn’t allow people to personally study the Bible because they wanted to control and dominant the people, then the Church would become the most powerful authority. So Martin Luther strongly encouraged people to read and study the Bible by themselves. It’s unnecessary to learn from the pastors and preachers because everything is in books. That’s a sharply different between the Protestant and Catholic when it came to the high expectations placed on pastors and on believers. During the 16th century, according to all the bibliography I read in this source book, almost all the authors found and collected evidence to support their arguments from the Bible or other As for Martin Luther, in The Large Catechism, he used several citations that were originally from the Bible and Psalms. For example, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” is from Matt. 18:20 and “meditate on God’s law day and night” is from Psalm 1:2. Apparently, Martin Luther criticized the negligence of many pastors and preachers and highly emphasized on the importance of showing honor and gratitude to the Gospel. And through those quotations, Luther showed the necessary of reading and studying the Catechism daily. All those efforts were used to make people be convinced of Martin Luther’s credibility. So here’s the second conflict between the Protestant and the Catholic. Basically, for the Protestant, the authority is the Word of God, or the Bible. The Catholic Church did accept the Bible but not as the authority. Tradition, the pronouncements of Pope’s and Council are considered equally authoritative. All those judgments mentioned above are my brief opinion to the regions in the 16th century after reading the articles in the source book.

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