The Reformation And Counter Reformation
The term Reformation refers to a great religious reform movement in Europe during 16th century. There was a big protest against the Christian Church in different parts of Europe and it ultimately resulted in the emergence of Protestant Christian religion. This great religious movement was not only the evidence of a great religious change, but also proclaimed the dawn of a new era. The Reformation started in Germany and later it spread to other countries.
Causes for the Reformation
There are several causes for the Reformation.
The Christian Church under the Pope was originally commanded respect among the people. But in the Middle ages, it had become a big feudal institution and possessed so much of lands and wealth. The Popes enjoyed great political influence and interfered into the political affairs. As a result they began to neglect their spiritual duties. The Pope and the clergy began to lead luxurious lives. The Popes like Alexander VI, Julius II and Leo X who lived in 15th and 16th centuries with their activities undermined the respect and prestige of the Church.
The Renaissance movement created a spirit of inquiry among the masses. They began to read the Bible and realized that the activities of the Church and the clergy were not according to the precepts of the holy book. In the years preceding the Reformation, many writers condemned luxurious and superstitious practices prevalent in the Church. John Wycliffe (1330-1384) from England criticized the Pope for his authority and misdeeds. He translated the Bible into English. He is considered 'the Morning Star of the Reformation. Erasmus (1466-1536) attacked the superstitions followed by the clergy in his book In Praise of Folly. It was published in 1509. John Huss (1369-1415), a Bohemian, struggled for reforming the Church. But he was condemned for his writings against the Church and burnt to death. These early efforts to reform the
Church sowed the seeds for the Reformation of the 16th century.
The emergence of nation-states in Europe eroded
the political influence enjoyed by the Church during the Middle Ages. The Pope
and the Emperor lost their influence and power. The people began to respect
their king and the nation. Therefore, the concept of Universal Church slowly
gave way to national churches.
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