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Christian Religious Dissent Before Luther Essay

955 words - 4 pages

There were several dissenting movements prior to Martin Luther that revolved around questioning Church authority and dogma.In the early Thirteenth Century, the Albigensian heresy or Catharism became especially prominent in central southern France (where the town of Albi was located). Albigensian belief was dualistic: that is, they saw the universe as a struggle between good and evil. They believed that the physical world was inherently corrupt, evil and the creation of Satan, while the spiritual universe was the realm of the good God. As a worldly organization, the Christian church was perceived as evil and renounced by the Albigensians. Despite the extremism of Catharism (indeed, perhaps because of its extremism), it attracted large numbers of followers, including some highly placed nobles. The church hierarchy took strenuous action against this heresy, including a crusade called by Pope Innocent III in 1209 to wipe out the Albigensian movement. (Albigencian)Another dissenter who did not stray as far from the church was Saint Francis of Assisi. He was born at Assisi in Umbria, in 1181. Although his early life was one of privilege, after a series of dreams and visions, he gave up all his worldly goods and lived a life of poverty. As he preached, he gathered followers and when they numbered eleven he gave them a short Rule. He went to Rome and, despite some opposition from Cardinals, worried that the emphasis on poverty would dangerously contrast with their lives of opulence, received approval from Pope Innocent III for the brotherhood. They traveled throughout central Italy and beyond, preaching for people to turn from the world to Christ. In his life and preaching, Francis emphasized simplicity and poverty, relying on God's providence rather than worldly goods. Eventually he gave up the leadership of the Order and went to the mountains to live in secluded prayer. He died in 1226. (Rabb)John Wycliffe was born in 1324, in Yorkshire, England and was educated at Oxford, becoming a doctor of divinity in 1372. In 1374, King Edward III appointed him rector of Lutterworth, and later made him part of a deputation to meet at Brussels with papal representativs to negotiate differences between King and Pope.Wycliffe criticized abuses in the Church and argued for a greater reliance on the Bible as the word of God. In 1382 he translated an English Bible, which was the first European translation done in over 1,000 years. He inspired a group of itinerant preachers, the Lollards, which he sent throughout England, to preach the word of God through the bible. He eventually fell out of favor with his royal patrons on the doctrinal issue of Transubstantiation but he was unharmed and lived a life of retirement until his death in 1384. Forty-four years after he died, the Pope ordered his bones exhumed and burned.His teaching were disseminated however. Anne...

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