Skip to main content

Renaissance to Protestant Reformation

Joseph Fiennes in the Motion Picture Luther 2003
Beginning with the Acts of the apostles there has been a constant struggle from within and without. The time of 1300 AD to 1500 AD is no exception. During this time the black plague ravaged much of Europe, within the papacy there was crisis, social and political order outside the church was changing.
With the papacy in crisis, a Conciliar movement took authority; decreeing its own authority, and if anyone (including the pope) did not obey the authority of the council they were to be punished. Such was the case with the pre-reformer John Hus who was burned at the stake by the council of Constance for his refusal to obey their demands to recant his writings. John Hus appealed to the Lord and Judge Jesus Christ and stood on scripture alone.
After the crisis was over (the crisis regarding multiple popes); the pope disbanded the council and once again regained authority. At this same time a Renaissance of ancient art and writing was gaining ground in Italy and spreading throughout Europe. It was the study of scripture in the original languages and reading the patristics that caused some to question the soteriology and ecclesiology of the Roman Catholic church. The Renaissance and the Christian faith became linked; therefore, it was Christian humanist who called for reformation based on scripture. These Christian humanists believed that it was their knowledge of Greek and Hebrew that helped them better understand scripture.1
One of those men was Martin Luther; Luther recommended that citizens receive a classical liberal arts degree and instruction in Hebrew and Greek so that they could diligently study scripture.2 Martin Luther became a doctor of Theology at the University of Wittenberg. Through diligent study, while lecturing on the Psalms and Romans, Martin Luther had a breakthrough. The Catholic Church taught active righteousness through works, in Romans 1:17 Luther saw that the scripture taught imputed righteousness through faith in Christ Jesus alone.3
Medieval Catholic doctrine taught a system of planks in salvation. The first plank baptism, the second plank penance and the third plank purgatory. Baptism washed away the guilt of original sin, but there was still sin done in the flesh that must be punished. Penance was required to remove temporal sin. In 1215 the Fourth Lateran Council defined penance as requiring: contrition, confession, and satisfaction all done as a responsibility of the sinner. Contrition is a sorrow for committing sin. Confession is an oral admission of sin to a priest. Satisfaction required that God be compensated; typically, a special prayer, fasting, almsgiving, or a pilgrimage. All three most be completed successfully to receive absolution which is then granted by a priest. If all three are not done perfectly the sinner most spend time in purgatory to punish temporal sin.4
While studying this, a question enters my mind; how could anyone believe this Catholic doctrine, and not live in constant terror of death? It was under the confines of the sacrament of penance that indulgences were sold, because it was believed that the pope had the keys to the kingdom, and could give out merits. Pope Sixtus IV decided that indulgences were good for the sinner in this life, and good for their family members in purgatory. It was in this context that John Tetzel sold indulgences using the sales pitch, “Once a coin into the coffer clings, a soul from purgatory springs.”5 Martin Luther was outraged; therefore, he nailed his 95 Theses to the church door on October 31, 1517, in Wittenberg, Germany, which became a catalyst for the protestant reformation.6




1 John D. Woodbridge and Frank A. James, Church History Volume 2: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day. The rise and growth of the Church in its cultural, intellectual, and political context (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013) 105.
2 Ibid, 101.
3 Ibid, 107-112.
4 Ibid, 112-113.
5 Ibid, 112.
6 Ibid, 112-114.

Popular posts from this blog

Suffering and Death in the ICU

Suffering: The state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship.[1]Death: The end of the life of a person.[2]Intensive Care Unit: A department of a hospital in which patients who are dangerously ill are kept under constant observation.[3] I cannot continue doing what I have done for the past 21 years. My last day in the intensive care unit will be January 4, 2019. I will be transitioning to Cardiac Rehabilitation. This will be a completely different type of nursing. Cardiac Rehabilitation combines my love of aerobic exercise, knowledge of cardiology and love of people suffering with heart disease. I will be able to invest in their lives in a way that I was never able to do before.  These past 5 days are an example of what my work has been like for the past 21 years: I worked 4, 12 ½ hour shifts. I took care of 10 persons, all of whom suffered but some greater than others. A woman 10 years younger than I suffered a myocardial infarction (heart attack); a woman suffered greatly in the i…

Please, Please, Please Open Your Mouth and Preach the Gospel!

Please, Please, Please open your mouth and preach the gospel! Recently I was asked to do two things: 1) Think back to my own experience of how I was evangelized and describe the experience. 2) If I could go back and give advice to the person or people who ministered to me what would it be?  I began running as a young child. At the age of 5, I ran my first mile with my dad. At the age of 10, I wanted a pair of running shoes like the big runner’s wear. My dad challenged me, if I could run 5 consecutive miles at less than 8 minutes per mile he would by me a pair of running shoes. I met the challenge and he bought me the shoes. While at the runner’s store there was a flyer for an upcoming 10k race. My dad signed us both up for the race. The next year my dad was too busy with work to run with me, but we had new neighbors across the street. I noticed that this man would come home every evening and go for a run. I began running with him, at the time he was pursuing a doctorate at D. T. S., …

Evangelism and Discipleship

The defining mission of the church is to make disciples of all the nations, initiate the new disciples into fellowship through the ordinance of baptism in the name of the Triune God and teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded the first disciples; doing so by the power of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, Matthew 28:18-20 has been called the great commission because Jesus, who has all authority in heaven and on earth (Mt 28:18) commissioned his disciples to do just that. There is an utterance of this great commission at the end of each gospel account and the beginning of Acts. (cf. Mk 16:15, Lk 24:46-48, Jn 20:21, and Acts 1:8) Why? Because evangelism and discipleship are the church’s purpose for existing. For this reason, evangelism and discipleship cannot be separated. They are wholly dependent on one another. Jesus did not commission his disciples at the beginning of his ministry, but at the conclusion, and before his ascension. However, He did send them out on practice evang…