Thesis: The Protestant Reformation did not have a specific beginning nor an end. However, it began due to majorly three reasons being, the theological and doctrinal fallacies that the Catholic Church had with the constant change of popes and canon laws, the corruption that kept going on throughout the time period and the reformer’s criticisms on it, and finally development in popular art that was used to spread the ideas to a wider audience.
Paragraph 1 Theological fallacy
Topic Sentence: The main reason behind why theologians not only Martin Luther has decided to start the Protestant Reformation was due to the Catholic Church altering their church doctrines and believes.
Evidence 1: It is written by the Pope Boniface VIII
Evidence 2: He declares that there is no salvation outside Rome and Roman pontiff.
Evidence 3: This document is written during the 1302, very before the Protestant Reformation.
Analysis: The fact that this document was written way before the Protestant Reformation shows how Catholic Church institution has presented doctrinal fallacies by the Pope shows how it has been collapsing since the early 14th century. To explain further about the doctrinal fallacy, the document clearly says that there is no salvation outside Rome and Roman pontiff. However, the bible clearly mentioning that “I am the way and the truth and the life” in John 14 shows how the doctrines of Catholic Church contradicts the bible which says that salvation actually lies within Christ. This doctrinal fallacy has led to angering theologians such as Martin Luther.
Evidence 1: Shown above, there were already much mal teachings of Christian doctrine.
Evidence 2: Zwingli too argues that “the Word of God has been so dimmed and confused and paled with human ambitions and teachings.”
Evidence 3: He also directly criticizes the church institutions by calling them “invented external worship” and “invented service of God” and carries on to argue that people who learn from the Catholic Christians are becoming another anti-doctrinal people who think they are believing the Christ but are indeed not.
Analysis: This document ties in with the previous document to show that education done by Catholic Church institution has successfully persuaded lay people to making them believe that Catholic Christianity is the better church. However, the theologians argue that since, words of god, bible, does not justify many wrong doings of the pope and since it has continued to happen at night for several decades. Furthermore, Zwingli very much openly over fires criticism at the Catholic Church and its doctrines. For example, him even calling the Catholics “word of mouth calls themselves Christians” shows the fact that Zwingli not even considered the Catholics as Christians. Finally, these criticisms on the altered Catholic Church’s doctrine has contributed a lot into triggering the Protestant Reformation since Luther himself, who is considered to be the starter of the Protestant Reformation, had started the revolution by questioning the authority of sacraments and the true meaning of the bible.
Paragraph 2 Corruption and Criticism
Topic Sentence: The corruption of the church clergies, priests and even the Pope himself has created countless criticisms from various classes of people toward the Catholic Church which eventually led to the Protestant Reformation.
Evidence 1: Luther, the leading individual of the Protestant Reformation was accused of heresy
Evidence 2: He begins by criticizing the doctrine of the recent Catholic Church, that they are devil in a sense that they distort the bible and reinterpreted it in a wrong way.
Evidence 3: Martin Luther focuses on the comparison between the popes, Julius II and Boniface VIII and an imperial emperor. He establishes the fact that the past Popes have acted like tyrants by describing the fact that those popes led military warfare that led to devastation.
Analysis: The fact that he first criticizes the doctrinal aspects of Catholic Fallacy shows how he lies in the same plane of Protestant Reformation. Also the fact that he describes the Popes to be tyrant like and military like shows how the popes in Luther’s eyes were corrupt and should be criticized for good.
Evidence 1: The author claims to resist the lust of the flesh.
Evidence 2: The author also questions the wearing of lavish clothing. He goes on to say that it is a creation and desire of a mind not a grace of God.
Analysis: With the two main points that the author wants to argue, Calvin seems to be criticizing the pope and the clergies. This is evident since the Catholic church during that time period was at constant debate whether celibacy of priests was the right action and due to this, more priests started to “overflow without measure” bursting with desire for women. This led to numerous accounts of corruption within priests and other church officials. Furthermore, the criticism on clothing seems to reflect the Pope himself since during the time period of the Protestant Reformation, the popes, to show their power off, wore luxurious clothes with furs and silk, incompatible to that of any prince’s.
Evidence 1: The document was composed in mid-16th century as the complaints by the German Princes
Analysis 1: Thus, it can be said that the document is about Protestant Reformation during the 16th century and in Germany.
Evidence and Analysis: Analyzing the Document in the context of the Protestant Reformation, German Money can be analyzed as tithe or other church related tax. Furthermore, since the tax to the church is going “over the Alps” to Rome and is being used “contrary to nature,” as a part of luxury of the Pope, the document criticizes the corruption that is going on in Rome and with the Pope.
Evidence and Analysis 2: The document states that “pastors given to us are shepherds only in name…[caring] for nothing but the sheep’s fleece.” Thus it criticizes the fact that corruption has proceeded not only in Rome but even in local levels of priests and clergies.
Analysis: shown through the criticisms in documents mentioned above, it can be reasonably inferred that corruption that has been carried on well before the Protestant Reformation has quickly tied in with the doctrinal complaints that reformers had to create numerous criticisms on the Catholic Church resulting in more people joining.
Perspective: The fact that it is written by German Princes show how groups that took part in the Protestant Reformation included noble classes along with theologians and peasants.
Paragraph 3 Use of Populism
Topic Sentence: Even though there were underlying social and theological reasons why Protestant reformation came into being, since reformation is a movement that involves thousands of people not regarding of theologians, the protestant reformers used various populous mediums to spread their ideas around Europe.
Evidence 1: The description of the picture mentions a vendor in the woodcut. The wood cut too suggests that the lavishly dressed individual sitting to the very left seems to be the vendor. However, the title of the woodcut is “Hawking Indulgences” indicating that the vendor would be selling the indulgence. Furthermore, indulgence at the time prior to the protestant reformation was considered to be a sacrament, a semi-salvific act.
Evidence 2: The woodcut is created by Jörg Breu the Elder, a leading artist of the Northern Renaissance art movement and also a popular artisan that created numerous famous artworks as well as woodcuts.
Analysis: The fact that a sumptuous and luxurious, even secular looking entity is selling the indulgence, which should be carried out by a clergy, criticizes how secular the Catholic church and how corrupt the clergies has become. Furthermore, the fact that a popular artisan has created the artwork of criticism shows how protestant reformers used trendy art mediums to popularize their protestant world views and bitter critiques towards the Catholic Church, persuading them to join the Protestant church.
Evidence 1: The dialogue is conversed between the soul of the Pope Julius II and Saint Peter when the Pope Julius II has died and risen to the gateway of heaven. The Pope Julius II has an army that has followed him since he promised them the entry to heaven in return for a religious campaign. As the Pope tries to open the door of heaven with the key of his secret money vault, Saint Peter appears and questions the Pope of his deeds on Earth. The Pope tries to persuade the Saint to let him enter, but the Saint does not allow it.
Evidence 3: The Pope seems to be calling himself the source of absolute power since he can cancel or recant and change the canon law that the whole of Europe was under.
Evidence 2: The Saint satirizes the Pope for being able to reign forever since he cannot be punished or be considered a heretic.
Evidence 3: He also adds that the Pope for being able to “cheat Christ with his laws” and saying that “the remedy [to stop the situation] in such case is not a council,” Saint also points out that the Pope not only had absolute but almost tyrannical religious power over doctrines and secular laws.
Evidence 4: This dialogue, maybe for a play, was assumed to be created by Erasmus and other individuals collaboratively. However, Erasmus denies the fact that he has written them. Thus, a group of reformers critical about the corrupt Catholic Church should have written them, in the writing style of Erasmus.
Evidence 5: This dialogue can be most likely be interpreted as a play script. Thus, it was meant to be performed in front of normal lay people.
Analysis: The fact that the dialogue involves a lot of satire of the Pope and the Catholic Christian institution and that it was created for performance purpose shows that these critical ideas of Catholic church has taken various forms of populous media in order to convey the message to a more diverse audience. Furthermore, the fact that this literary work might have been written by an individual who borrows the style of a very famous Catholic Critique, Erasmus, shows how criticisms on Church institution has been so famous that it not only was read, but were followed by other intelligentsias. Compared to the previous document, it can be seen that spread of criticisms on church institution has taken forms in various media formats. In a bigger historical context of media history, the fact that plays were a major part of media shows that the trend of expressing people’s idea has started to cover a vaster amount media types.
Evidence 1: The ninety-five thesis composed by Martin Luther has been distributed and well-read throughout Germany and Europe.
Evidence 2: This article composed in 1517 is well after the creation of the documents discussed above.
Analysis: The fact that this article was composed after the previous two documents shows that this article may reflect the progress of the past two documents. Furthermore, the fact that it actually took only a month to spread a document around Europe shows how not only the success of printing press existed but also the underlying criticism and disapproval has continued to root on people’s mind through the works of populous media.
Conclusion: In conclusion, the Protestant Reformation began due to three major reasons; the theological fallacies, corruption and criticisms, and populous media to widen the spectrum of audience.