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The Protestant Reformation Essay

3423 words - 14 pages

The Protestant Reformation

The Protestant Reformation: What it was, why it happened and why it was necessary. The Protestant Reformation has been called "the most momentous upheaval in the history of Christianity." It was a parting of the ways for two large groups of Christians who differed in their approach to the worship of Christ. At the time, the Protestant reformers saw the church- the Catholic church, or the "universal church- " as lacking in its ways. The church was corrupt then, all the way up to the pope, and had lost touch with the people of Europe. The leaders of the Reformation sought to reform the church and its teachings according to the Scriptures and the writings of the Apostles. They sought to simplify the church by returning to its roots, roots long lost by the Catholic church at the time, or so the reformers believed. After the fall of the Roman Empire, life in Europe declined rapidly into the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages were a time of misery and darkness. There were only two socioeconomic classes: the very rich nobility or the very poor peasants. Small kingdoms popped up everywhere, and were constantly at war with one another. Whole libraries were destroyed, and the only people who remained literate were the clergy of the Christian church. Life became such a struggle to survive that, for a period of five hundred years, very little artwork or literature was produced by the whole of Europe. Eventually, around the year 1000, the conditions in Europe began to get better. This marked the beginning of the Middle Ages. The Crusades began as an effort to revitalize the spirits of the people. However, things still weren't very good. Plagues ravaged the land, carried by rodents and destroying whole villages. With this all around, the people began to talk of witches and devils and evil spirits. The religious stories of the time, as seen in the sculpture of every church built during this time period, was of the Last Judgement and the tortures of Hell. This was the time of tall, sweeping Gothic cathedrals adorned with gargoyles and devils. Everywhere the people looked, they saw death, and it became the sole thought in their minds- that and what came after death. With the spreading literacy among the clergy and nobility of the times came new literature. For hundreds of ears the only literature that had existed were those books saved from the destruction of the Dark Ages by the church and the monasteries. Now, scholars began to write new books- all of it, of course, religious in nature. One of the most influential books of the time was The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. The book gave "clear and simple instruction for modeling a Christian spiritual life on that of Christ" (The Volume Library, 1950. However, the way that it did this was to present the mind set of "a sober awareness of death and a general view that life is a veil of tears" (Carmody, 331). While The Imitation was not the progenitor of the mood for the next several...

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