Scramblin' thru... The Reformation
Let's REFORM the Church!
The Protestant Reformation was a religious revolution in the Christian church during the 16th Century that ended the supremacy of the Pope in Western Christendom and established many Protestant churches. (Get it? The Protestants protested the Catholic Church.)
The Protestant Reformation changed the medieval way of life in Europe. Even though it began in the early 1500s, the key conditions that caused it had been around for hundreds of years.
Christianity during the Renaissance presents a number of sharp contrasts to the role it played during the Middle Ages. In various ways, the influence and prestige of the Roman Catholic Church was declining. Its institutions were deeply rooted in older patterns of life and traditional ways of thought, and these institutions were slow in adapting.
The Catholic Church had difficulty adjusting to the demands of a society based on money rather than allegiances. As towns grew, the parish priests and monks, who had served as the main religious teachers of the peasantry, found that they knew little about the needs of the rising commercial class. The prestige of the Church also suffered when some church leaders sold their services, violated Biblical laws, and lived no differently than secular merchants and political figures.
From the revival of the Holy Roman Empire by Otto I in 962 AD, popes and emperors had been engaged in a continuous contest for supremacy. This conflict had resulted in victory for the papal side, but created bitter antagonism between church and state. By the 13th Century, the papacy had become vulnerable to attack because of the greed, immorality, and ignorance of many of its officials. Vast tax-free church possessions (which made up as much as one-fifth to one-third of the lands of Europe) incited the envy and resentment of the land-poor peasantry.
Church officials recognized the need for reform and debated reorganizing the entire hierarchy at the Council of Constance in 1414, but no program gained the support of a majority. As a result, it would be up to a German monk named Martin Luther to launch the Reformation and a son-crazed English monarch named Henry to help it spread.
The Great Schism in 1054 (also known as the East-West Schism) was the division of Christianity into the Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) branches. The Eastern branch later became the Eastern Orthodox Church; the Western branch became the Roman Catholic Church.
The 4 causes of the Great Schism were:
1. Using the phrase "and from the son" Nicene Creed. (The phrase is used by Roman Catholics but not Greek Orthodox.)
2. The use of unleavened bread in the Eucharist (Holy Communion). Unleavened bread uses gas during the baking process. (Couldn't both sides just have used Raising Cane's toast?)
3. The role of the Pope and whether he has "universal jurisdiction" over the faith.
4. The acceptance of the city of Constantinople in the Pentarchy, which was the idea of universal rule over all Christians from the 5 major cities of the Roman Empire: Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem... and Constantinople?
In the end, the two sides couldn't agree, so they split Christianity. Attempts to reunite the church in 1274 and 1439 failed.
Humanism, the revival
of classical learning during the Renaissance, soon replaced Scholasticism during the 15th Century as the principal philosophy of Western Europe.
Scholasticism was an 11th Century movement that tried to integrate the natural wisdom of Greece and Rome
with Christianity's religious wisdom.
Humanism deprived church leaders of the monopoly on learning that they had previously held. Laypersons (people who are not members of the clergy)
studied ancient literature and applied the new learning to the evaluation of
church practices and the development of a more accurate knowledge of the
Let's clear up one REALLY big misconception about Christianity... Catholics ARE Christians, too! So often when asked if someone is Catholic, the response comes, "No, I'm Christian."
The Reformation laid the groundwork for the establishment of numerous
denominations (or groups) of Christians. Some of these include: Lutherans,
Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Episcopal, Quaker, Mennonite, Seven Day Adventists, and so on and so on and so on....