Guide Understanding Christian History

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For sixty-nine years popes resided in Avignon rather than Rome. Confusion and of political animosity waxed, as the prestige and influence of Rome waned without a resident pontiff. He soon alienated the French cardinals, who asserted that the previous election was invalid, and elected one of their own, Robert of Geneva, who took the name Pope Clement VII. For nearly forty years, there were two papal curias and two sets of cardinals, each electing a new pope for Rome or Avignon when death created a vacancy.

Each pope lobbied for support among kings and princes who played them off against each other. The existing popes refused to resign; thus there were three papal claimants. Another council was convened in , the Council of Constance. He was brought back a prisoner and deposed in May. The council deposed him in July and elected Pope Martin V as pope in November, having finally cleared the field of popes and antipopes.

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John Wycliffe or Wyclif — was an English scholar and heretic best known for denouncing the corruptions of the Church, and his sponsoring the first translation of the Bible from Latin into English. He was a precursor of the Protestant Reformation. He emphasized the supremacy of the Bible, and called for a direct relationship between man and God, without interference by priests and bishops. His followers, called Lollards , faced persecution by the Church of England.

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They went underground for over a century and played a role in the English Reformation. Jan Hus or Huss ? Hus was executed in , but his followers organized a peasants' war, —, that was put down by the Empire with great brutality. Hus was a forerunner of the Protestant Reformation and his memory has become a powerful symbol of Czech culture in Bohemia. The Renaissance was a period of great cultural change and achievement, marked in Italy by a classical orientation and an increase of wealth through mercantile trade.

On the one hand, it was a time of great artistic patronage and architectural magnificence, where the Church patroned such artists as Michelangelo , Brunelleschi , Bramante , Raphael , Fra Angelico , Donatello , and da Vinci.

On the other hand, wealthy Italian families often secured episcopal offices, including the papacy, for their own members, some of whom were known for immorality, such as Alexander VI and Sixtus IV. In addition to being the head of the Church, the Pope became one of Italy's most important secular rulers, and pontiffs such as Julius II often waged campaigns to protect and expand their temporal domains. Furthermore, the popes, in a spirit of refined competition with other Italian lords, spent lavishly both on private luxuries but also on public works, repairing or building churches, bridges, and a magnificent system of aqueducts in Rome that still function today.

From to , St. Peter's Basilica , perhaps the most recognised Christian church, was built on the site of the old Constantinian basilica. It was also a time of increased contact with Greek culture, opening up new avenues of learning, especially in the fields of philosophy , poetry, classics , rhetoric , and political science , fostering a spirit of humanism —all of which would influence the Church. The edicts of the Diet condemned Luther and officially banned citizens of the Holy Roman Empire from defending or propagating his ideas. In the early 16th century, attempts were made by the theologians Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli along with many others who aimed to reform the Church.

Along with some of the previous ones, they considered the root of corruptions to be doctrinal rather than simply a matter of moral weakness or lack of ecclesiastical discipline and thus advocated for monergism against voluntaristic notions that salvation could be earned by people. The word Protestant is derived from the Latin protestatio meaning declaration which refers to the letter of protestation by Lutheran princes against the decision of the Diet of Speyer in , which reaffirmed the edict of the Diet of Worms ordering the seizure of all property owned by persons guilty of advocating Lutheranism.

The beginning of the Protestant Reformation is generally identified with Martin Luther and the posting of the Ninety-five Theses on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany. Early protest was against corruptions such as simony , the holding of multiple church offices by one person at the same time, episcopal vacancies, and the sale of indulgences. The Protestant position also included sola scriptura , sola fide , the priesthood of all believers , Law and Gospel , and the two kingdoms doctrine.

The three most important traditions to emerge directly from the Protestant Reformation were the Lutheran , Reformed Calvinist , Presbyterian , etc. The Protestant Reformation may be divided into two distinct but basically simultaneous movements, the Magisterial Reformation and the Radical Reformation. The Magisterial Reformation involved the alliance of certain theological teachers Latin: magistri such as Luther, Zwingli, Calvin , Cranmer , etc. Radical Reformers, many who were Anabaptists , besides forming communities outside state sanction, often employed more extreme doctrinal change, with some rejecting tenants of the Councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon.

Churches with Reformation confessions of faith spread almost entirely within the confines of Northern Europe, but this was checked by the Catholic response to the Reformation. This is known as the Counter-Reformation. Although Protestants were excommunicated in an attempt to reduce their influence within the Catholic Church, at the same time they were also persecuted during the Counter-Reformation, prompting some to live as crypto-Protestants also termed Nicodemites , against the urging of John Calvin who urged them to live their faith openly.

Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk and later priest who was professor at the University of Wittenberg. In , he nailed a list of Ninety-five Theses , or points to be debated on the door of the church in Wittenberg and also mailed a copy to his archbishop. These points concerned the illicitness of selling indulgences. They were translated from Latin into German and distributed. In , he was asked to issue a blanked recantation of his works for heresy and lesser offenses by the papal bull Exsurge Domine. Although the bull demanded Luther burn his own works, instead he burned the papal bull Wittenberg during an incident when others had gathered together books of canon law and were burning them.

Specifically targeted in the forty one condemned statements included Luther's support for conciliarism against papal primacy , his opposition to the burning of heretics , his partial support for the teaching of Jan Hus who was burned at the stake, his anti-war stance with respect to the Ottoman Turks , his rejection of indulgences, that original sin remains after baptism , his statements against a three-part formula of repentance , the possibility of knowing and enumerating each and every one of your mortal sins for purposes of confession, his support for communion under both kinds , his rejection of the treasury of merit and purgatory , his position on free will , and a statement he made about the role of money in corruption of the church.

For most of his career, Luther tactically avoided complete identification with either Thomistic scholarship sometimes termed the "schola antiqua" or "old school" [66] or the "schola moderna" or "new school," which especially relied on Scotist and Franciscan epistemology. Instead, when debating he tactically took positions allying himself with one camp or the other on issues as it suited his overall purpose during debates. It was especially his intention to guard against the threat he feared the voluntarism of the increasingly popular schola moderna posed to the doctrine of justification.

Justification in the theological sense is the process by which one is "made right" righteous in the eyes of God. Ulrich Zwingli was a Swiss scholar and parish priest who was likewise influential in the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation. Zwingli claimed that his theology owed nothing to Luther, and that he had developed it in , before Luther's famous protest, though his doctrine of justification was remarkably similar to that of the German priest. Soon he had risen to prominence in the city, and when political tension developed between most of Switzerland and the Catholic Habsburg Emperor Charles V.

In this environment, Zwingli began preaching his version of reform, with certain points as the aforementioned doctrine of justification, but others with which Luther vehemently disagreed such as the position that veneration of icons was actually idolatry and thus a violation of the first commandment, and the denial of the real presence in the Eucharist. Meanwhile, political tensions increased; Zwingli and the Zurich leadership imposed an economic blockade on the inner Catholic states of Switzerland, which led to a battle in which Zwingli, in full armor, was slain along with his troops.

John Calvin was a French cleric and doctor of law turned Protestant reformer. He belonged to the second generation of the Reformation, publishing his theological tome, the Institutes of the Christian Religion , in later revised , and establishing himself as a leader of the Reformed church in Geneva , which became a center of Reformed Christianity in the second half of the 16th century.

He exerted a remarkable amount of authority in the city and over the city council, such that he has rather ignominiously been called a "Protestant pope. Unlike other reform movements, the English Reformation began by royal influence.

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However, the king came into conflict with the papacy when he wished to annul his marriage with Catherine of Aragon , for which he needed papal sanction. Catherine, among many other noble relations, was the aunt of Emperor Charles V , the papacy's most significant secular supporter. The ensuing dispute eventually lead to a break from Rome and the declaration of the King of England as head of the English Church.

England would later experience periods of reform and also Counter-Reformation.

Church History

What emerged was the Elizabethan Religious Settlement and a state church that considered itself both "Reformed" and "Catholic" but not "Roman" and hesitated from the title "Protestant" , and other "unofficial" more radical movements such as the Puritans. In terms of politics, the English Reformation included heresy trials, the exiling of Catholic populations to Spain and other Catholic lands, censorship and prohibition of books, etc. In terms of politics, the Counter-Reformation included heresy trials, the exiling of Protestant populations from Catholic lands, the seizure of children from their Protestant parents for institutionalized Catholic upbringing, a series of wars , the Index Librorum Prohibitorum the list of prohibited books , and the Spanish Inquisition.

The Counter-Reformation also included the Catholic Reformation, which aimed at improving the Church from within. The Council of Trent — , initiated by Pope Paul III — addressed issues of certain ecclesiastical corruptions such as simony , absenteeism , nepotism , the holding of multiple church offices by one person, and other abuses, as well as the reassertion of traditional practices and the dogmatic articulation of the traditional doctrines of the Church, such as the episcopal structure, clerical celibacy , the seven Sacraments , transubstantiation the belief that during mass the consecrated bread and wine truly become the body and blood of Christ , the veneration of relics, icons, and saints especially the Blessed Virgin Mary , the necessity of both faith and good works for salvation, the existence of purgatory and the issuance but not the sale of indulgences, etc.

In other words, all Protestant doctrinal objections and changes were uncompromisingly rejected. The Council also fostered an interest in education for parish priests to increase pastoral care. Milan 's Archbishop Saint Charles Borromeo — set an example by visiting the remotest parishes and instilling high standards. Also part of this general effort, the simultaneous Catholic Reformation consisted of improvements in art and culture, anti-corruption measures, the founding of the Jesuits , the establishment of seminaries , a reassertion of traditional doctrines and the emergence of new religious orders aimed at both moral reform and new missionary activity.

Also part of this was the development of new yet orthodox forms of spirituality, such as that of the Spanish mystics and the French school of spirituality. The Papacy of St. Pius V — was known not only for its focus on halting heresy and worldly abuses within the Church, but also for its focus on improving popular piety in a determined effort to stem the appeal of Protestantism.

Pius began his pontificate by giving large alms to the poor, charity, and hospitals, and the pontiff was known for consoling the poor and sick, and supporting missionaries.

The activities of these pontiffs coincided with a rediscovery of the ancient Christian catacombs in Rome. As Diarmaid MacCulloch stated, "Just as these ancient martyrs were revealed once more, Catholics were beginning to be martyred afresh, both in mission fields overseas and in the struggle to win back Protestant northern Europe: the catacombs proved to be an inspiration for many to action and to heroism.

Catholic missions were carried to new places beginning with the new Age of Discovery , and the Roman Catholic Church established a number of Missions in the Americas and other colonies in order to spread Christianity in the New World and to convert the indigenous peoples. The Portuguese sent missions into Africa. While some of these missions were associated with imperialism and oppression, others notably Matteo Ricci 's Jesuit mission to China were relatively peaceful and focused on integration rather than cultural imperialism.

The Galileo affair , in which Galileo Galilei came into conflict with the Roman Catholic Church over his support of Copernican astronomy , is often considered a defining moment in the history of the relationship between religion and science. In , Galileo published his Sidereus Nuncius Starry Messenger , describing the surprising observations that he had made with the new telescope. These and other discoveries exposed major difficulties with the understanding of the Heavens that had been held since antiquity, and raised new interest in radical teachings such as the heliocentric theory of Copernicus.

In reaction, many scholars maintained that the motion of the Earth and immobility of the Sun were heretical , as they contradicted some accounts given in the Bible as understood at that time. Galileo's part in the controversies over theology , astronomy and philosophy culminated in his trial and sentencing in , on a grave suspicion of heresy. Unlike the Spanish or French, the English colonists made surprisingly little effort to evangelise the native peoples. Though they had left England because of the suppression of their religious practice, most Puritans had thereafter originally settled in the Low Countries but found the licentiousness there, where the state hesitated from enforcing religious practice, as unacceptable, and thus they set out for the New World and the hopes of a Puritan utopia.

This is the period from the Industrial revolution and the French Revolution until the mid 19th century. See the French Republican Calendar and anti-clerical measures. Revivalism refers to the Calvinist and Wesleyan revival, called the Great Awakening , in North America which saw the development of evangelical Congregationalist , Presbyterian , Baptist , and new Methodist churches. The First Great Awakening was a wave of religious enthusiasm among Protestants in the American colonies c. Historian Sydney E. Ahlstrom saw it as part of a "great international Protestant upheaval" that also created Pietism in Germany, the Evangelical Revival , and Methodism in England.

The Second Great Awakening —s , unlike the first, focused on the unchurched and sought to instil in them a deep sense of personal salvation as experienced in revival meetings. It also sparked the beginnings of groups such as the Mormons , the Restoration Movement and the Holiness movement.

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The Third Great Awakening began from and was most notable for taking the movement throughout the world, especially in English speaking countries. The final group to emerge from the "great awakenings" in North America was Pentecostalism , which had its roots in the Methodist, Wesleyan, and Holiness movements, and began in on Azusa Street , in Los Angeles. Pentecostalism would later lead to the Charismatic movement.