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Challenges To The Roman Catholic Church By Christians Prior To Martin Luther

3224 words - 13 pages

The first Christians who challenged the doctrines of the Catholic Church had already pleaded their cases long before Martin Luther, the acclaimed founding father of Protestantism, ultimately broke away from the Catholic Church. Prior to the Reformation and official formation of Protestantism, many philosophers, theologians, and logicians who led the inquiry for greater knowledge and education, spoke out against the doctrines of the Catholic Church. Peter Abelard, John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, and Peter Waldo were all great masterminds of the Middle Ages who contributed to the fall of the domineering Catholic Church and the rise of Protestantism. Although they were deemed as heretics, they set ...view middle of the document...

World History in Context). By instilling new and lasting beliefs, and rejecting the unbiblical ideas that reigned at that time, Waldo set the stage for many of the other reformists that were to come, particularly Peter Abelard.
At the beginning of the Middle Ages, the theologian and philosopher Peter Abelard started his quest to change the ideas of the old Catholic Church. Throughout many debates, Peter Abelard expressed his beliefs on the conflicting ideas of the time, mainly universals and the Trinity (Latter Rain). Although he was initially accepted, his unfortunate love affair with Heloise, who was one of his students, forced him to become a monk at the Abbey of St. Denis. While working in the monastic field, he found many adversaries (Peter Abelard. World History in Context). He eventually rose to become an abbot, but was condemned for Heresy at Soursouns in 1121 based on the teachings in his works Logica ingredientibus, Petri Abaelardi Glossae in Prophyrium, and Dialectica (Peter Abelard. Encyclopedia Britannica). Abelard was freed of his initial charges, and was permitted to continue his teachings and writings. In response to this freedom, Abelard spread his new doctrines throughout France and England. In 1140, one of Abelard's adversaries, Bernard of Clairvaux, helped rising suspicions grow by making the ideas in Abelard's book, Sic et Non, seem heretical, as well as degrading to many former Popes. A council was convened at Sens, where Peter Abelard was condemned for heresy for a second time. According to Gale Virtual Reference Library, Peter Abelard was "convinced of his innocence," and "decided to take his case before the Pope" (Peter Abelard.) Due to illness, Abelard wasn't able to complete his journey, but was informed that the Pope had in fact agreed with his conviction (Peter Abelard. World History in Context). Although he was condemned for heresy and forced to quit his career, many lasting effects stemmed from Abelard's new ideas, including common views of the Trinity and the idea that a person's intention is what matters most to God, not the result of the person's intention (History Guide: Lectures on European History). Shorter lasting effects included ideas about universals and obedience to papal authority (Peter Abelard. Student Resources in Context). When Peter Abelard passed away on April 21st, 1142, many of his ideas were instilled into the minds of the peoples of the Middle Ages, leading to the eventual rise of John Wycliffe (Biographical Sketches of Memorable Christians of the Past).
The great logician, theologian, and philosopher John Wycliffe disputed many controversial issues of the Catholic religion during the peak of the Middle Ages. He attended Balliol College and Oxford and earned his bachelor and doctor of divinity degrees at Queens College, but many of the ideas presented to him while he was studying at the college seemed erroneous (John Wyclif. Gale Virtual Reference Library). John Wycliffe was an advocate of...

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