Modern European History: the Reformation
I believe the statement "The reformation was a rejection of the secular spirit of the Italian Renaissance" is false because in the long term of European history, the reformation was able to create a more humanistic view of the world than that of the Renaissance humanism. There are three major changes and philosophies that the Protestants of the reformation incorporated which led to the long term advancement of Humanism. These are the beginnings of "free thought" away church dogma, the development of Capitalism, and the questioning of religious and Governmental authorities. Before Martin Luther's reformation the church dictated how Christians teachings should be interpreted, even the reading of the bible was discouraged. There also was the "indulgences" issued by the clergy, which was in essence a "passport to heaven". This out-raged some people like Martin Luther who stressed an individual interpretation of the bible, in books like Freedom of a Christian, stressing salvation by faith alone. This first division of the church in to Protestant caused many more religious groups to form on each interpretation of the bible. The next important long-term change, Capitalism stemmed from Calvinism. Calvinism was a religious movement which believed in the individuals responsibility to reorganize society according to "God's plan". Max Weber, the famous German sociologist, in his study The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, argued that these ideas led to the development of Capitalism. Secular life was able to develop in this environment. The last important change came from thee many people who were not satisfied with the existing forms of Government and religious authority. Clergy and royalty were believed to be intermediaries between God and the common person. This meant the a king could say God told him anything and it must be accepted. Martin Luther and many other of the early Protestants became objects of protest for the groups not satisfied. In 1525 many of Martin Luther's followers revolted against the German nobility. These protestants wrote "We...take it for granted that you will release us from serfdom as true Christians". This was the ultimate refutation that led to the reformation. All of this change, from the reformation the entire way of religious thought changed. At first, the Protestant Reformation did reject the secular spirit, but in the long term, the revolting caused individual thought leading the great changes I described in this essay. The Protestant Reformation was a major building block of history, and some would say our country.