Humanism & The Reformation

Examines influence of major 16th Cent. humanist thinkers on religious, social & political trends & leaders of Protestant Reformation.

The increased freedom of thought and challenges to authority that were features of Renaissance Humanism contributed strongly to the critical spirit of the Reformation. Northern variants of earlier Italian Humanism, especially the critical philological approach to Scripture and a growing belief in personal religion, were also extremely influential for Martin Luther, John Calvin and other reformers. By the sixteenth century the secular power of the Church and the abuses of the clergy had produced widespread dissatisfaction. This feeling was voiced by Martin Luther who felt that the word of God had been superseded by a merely human, and deeply flawed, authority. From a criticism of the church’s abuses, Luther moved on to question the authority of the papacy, which he eventually set aside for the authority of the word of God alone. Scripture, rather than any the earthly.

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