The Counter Reformation Was a Religious and Political Movement That

The Counter Reformation Was a Religious and Political Movement That

The Counter-Reformation (as well known every bit the Cosmic Reformation, 1545 to c. 1700) was the Catholic Church’s response to the Protestant Reformation (1517-1648). It is usually dated from the Council of Trent in 1545 to the finish of the Great Turkish War in 1699, merely according to some scholars, it continued subsequently and is ongoing in the present day.

Although efforts to reform perceived abuses and errors in the Church predated the Protestant Reformation, they were never as constructive as those of the Counter-Reformation. The medieval Church was quick to beat out challenges to its potency, although some members working within the Church building would periodically encourage reform without suffering persecution. These efforts never made a meaning difference in steering the Church back from its involvement in worldly pursuits to spiritual matters.

When Martin Luther (50. 1483-1546) began the Reformation in 1517, the Church building tried to silence him as information technology had earlier reformers, but due to widespread support generated largely by the printing press, information technology was unable to. By 1530, Luther’due south correct-hand human being, Philip Melanchthon (l. 1497-1560), had written the
Augsburg Confession,
which was countered in that aforementioned year by the Catholic confession known as the
Confutatio Augustana,
and co-ordinate to some scholars, this is when the Counter-Reformation began. The
Confutatio Augustana
clarified the Church’s position on diverse topics and denounced the Protestant Reformation as heresy.

The chief focus of the Counter-Reformation was the institution (or reestablishment) of the concept of ultimate, objective truth.

When it became articulate that the new move would not just evaporate, Pope Paul II (served 1534-1549) convened the Council of Trent (1545-1563) to affirm the truths of the Church and reform abuses and errors. Throughout the period of the Council of Trent, and later, Catholic authorities amended the sales of indulgences, improved the education of the clergy, established new rules for monastic orders, introduced profoundly significant doctrines regarding the utilize of art, music, and compages in worship, and worked toward returning the Church to its prior centrality in people’south lives. Primarily, it sought to elevate itself – and thereby its adherents – above the teachings and practices of the Protestant sects.

Follow us on Youtube!

The main focus of the Counter-Reformation, all the same, was the establishment (or reestablishment) of the concept of ultimate, objective truth. The earliest Catholic argument confronting the activism of Martin Luther was that if anyone who could read the Bible could merits they knew the truth, then there was no ‘truth,’ only opinion, merely estimation. Without a strong, fundamental, spiritual potency to make up one’s mind truth from untruth, each person or grouping of like-minded people could claim ‘truth’ for themselves exclusively. This statement proved prophetic as this is precisely what did happen during and after the Protestant Reformation and continues to in the present. Scholars who merits the Counter-Reformation is ongoing today cite the Church’due south present stand on various social and cultural bug as show of the Counter-Reformation’southward merits that the Catholic Church is the sole arbiter of spiritual truth.

Medieval Church building & Reform

The medieval Church building was understood equally the only valid spiritual authority for Christians, claiming a direct commission from Jesus Christ to Saint Peter (regarded as the beginning pope) equally given in Matthew 16:xviii-19. In order to carry out its divine mission, a hierarchy had been instituted with the pope as caput of the Church, followed past cardinals (advisors and administrators), bishops and archbishops (presiding over specific regions or cathedrals), priests (in accuse of villages and parishes), and monastic orders. Although this hierarchy was originally intended to facilitate the Church’south mission of saving souls, information technology had been corrupted by involvement in politics and the acquisition of ability.

Love History?

Sign up for our free weekly email newsletter!

By the 8th century, Church documents like
The Donation of Constantine
claimed the Church’due south authorisation superseded a monarch’due south, and, by the early 14th century, the
Unam Sanctam
had been issued, making clear that at that place was no conservancy exterior of the Church and anybody – believers and unbelievers – should be subject to the pope, God’s representative on earth. The pope issued his decrees in Latin, which traveled down the bureaucracy and were transmitted to the people, but the majority of the European population felt no personal connection with these, nor with the Bible, prayers, or services, because they did non understand Latin. The disconnect between the Church bureaucracy and congregations was worsened by poorly educated priests, bishops, and cardinals, fifty-fifty popes, who were more interested in their own condolement than in advancing the Christian message.

Popular:   Immediately After Firing a Neuron is Incapable of Responding

Donation of Constantine

Ras67 (Public Domain)

Movements advocating reform began in the 7th century when the Paulicians encouraged a return to the simplicity of the gospel message and early Christianity, as depicted in the Book of Acts. The Paulicians were persecuted by the Church and eventually wiped out by the ninth century. Others followed, also condemned as heretics, including John Wycliffe (l. 1330-1384) and January Hus (fifty. c. 1369-1415). At that place were others, however, who worked within the Church hierarchy for reform, such every bit the scholar and priest Lorenzo Valla (l. c. 1407-1457), who proved
The Donation of Constantine
was a forgery and had no scriptural authorisation, or Desiderius Erasmus (50. 1466-1536), the keen humanist theologian, scholar, and priest.

Luther & Zwingli

The efforts of men like Valla and Erasmus to redirect the Church back to its mission failed to address the divide between ecclesiastical authorization and the people and, farther, did not preclude abuses of ability past clergy or official policies that put a toll on salvation. Amidst these was the sale of indulgences – writs promising to lessen the fourth dimension spent in purgatory subsequently death – which generated significant wealth for the Church. It was the sale of indulgences that prompted Martin Luther’southward
95 Theses in 1517, which set the Protestant Reformation in movement in Deutschland, while, in Switzerland, Huldrych Zwingli (l. 1484-1531) initiated his own reforms in response to similar abuses.

Johann Tetzel Selling Indulgences

Johann Tetzel Selling Indulgences

Johann Daniel Lebrecht Franz Wagner (Public Domain)

By 1522, the activism of Luther and Zwingli had already inspired similar movements in Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Espana. The Church had attempted to silence Luther and, when this failed, engaged in debates and published pamphlets to discredit reformers and maintain its dominance. Although almost Europeans were illiterate at this time, publications on this new religious controversy were bestsellers that were given public readings, which drew wider back up for the Reformation because information technology connected the people direct with their organized religion and, at first, seemed to promise a new society in which all social classes would be equal or, at to the lowest degree, the everyman form would not have to deport the financial brunt of the others.

Augsburg, Loyola, & Trent

The Reformation’south message appealed to anyone who felt disenfranchised by the Church and social hierarchy, as evidenced by the Knights’ Revolt (1522-1523), which sought to establish the ‘new teachings’ in Germany, and the German language Peasants’ War (1524-1525), an attempt to overturn the status quo. By 1530, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, understood he needed to resolve these issues and convened the Diet of Augsburg at which the Protestants of Frg presented their
Augsburg Confession
(written primarily past Luther’s right-hand man Philip Melanchthon, l. 1497-1560) and the Catholics countered with their
Confutatio Augustana
(mainly written past Luther’s antagonist Johann Eck, fifty. 1486-1543). Both sides rejected the confessions of faith of the other, and the confessions became rallying points for the opposing views.

In 1521, the Basque soldier Ignatius of Loyola (50. 1491-1556) was wounded at the Boxing of Pamplona, and during his convalescence, he received visions he understood as calling him to the service of the Church building. He renounced his former life, took up the study of theology, and with six others in 1534, vowed to defend the Catholic Church against heresy, spread its message of universal salvation, and help it in reforming its weaknesses. In 1539, Loyola received approving from Pope Paul III for the establishment of the Social club of Jesus (meliorate known as the Jesuits), which he formed in accordance with armed services bureaucracy and subject.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola's Vision of Christ and God the Father at La Storta

Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s Vision of Christ and God the Father at La Storta

Domenichino (Public Domain)

The Jesuits focused on countering the claims of the Reformation and maintaining the absolute dominance of the Catholic Church building. In his
Spiritual Exercises
(1548), Loyola made his stand up clear, writing:

If we wish to go along in all things, we must agree fast to the following principle: What seems to me white, I will believe blackness if the hierarchical church and so defines. For I must exist convinced that in Christ our Lord, the bridegroom, and in his spouse the church, only one Spirit holds sway, which governs and rules for the salvation of souls. For it is by the same Spirit and Lord who gave the Ten Commandments that our holy mother church is ruled and governed. (Point xiii, Janz, 429)

In maintaining the singular authority of the Church to define truth, Loyola supported the argument first advanced by Johann Eck confronting Luther and Andreas Karlstadt (l. 1486-1541) at the debate in Leipzig in 1519: if there was no central spiritual authority to define ‘truth,’ then anyone’southward interpretation of ‘truth’ could be considered valid, in which case there was no truth, only opinion. Eck had claimed that only the Church could interpret scripture because the Bible was not just any book and its teachings were more circuitous than they appeared. Ane required educated theologians to interpret the work and preach its message to the laity.

Popular:   Elizabeth Cady Stanton First Delivered Her Declaration of Sentiments to

Luther had rejected this merits as another try past the Church building to maintain ability and insisted that one merely needed individual faith and the scripture to exist justified before God. Loyola non only rejected Luther’s claim simply took measures against information technology by establishing universities and seminaries in which priests would be educated in scriptural estimation and ministry in accord with the Church’due south teaching that one was only justified by adherence to Catholic precepts. The Council of Trent also rejected Luther’s claim, supporting Eck’south, in a number of its final provisions, notably Canon xiv:

If anyone says that human being is absolved from his sins and justified considering he firmly believes that he is absolved and justified, or that no one is truly justified except him who believes himself justified, and that by this faith alone absolution and justification are effected, allow him be abomination. (Janz, 413)

meant to exist condemned or cursed and, in this case, excommunicated. The Quango of Trent was convened to reaffirm Catholic doctrine, amend errors and abuses, and condemn the teachings of the Protestant sects. Protestant delegates were invited to discuss and debate points, but it was made clear they would have no vocalism in voting on the decrees. The council rejected Luther’s claim that ane was justified past faith lonely and maintained that the Church was the sole authorization in both the interpretation of scripture and its teachings. The selling of indulgences was amended (though not abolished) as were traditions such as the veneration of the saints and relics, the understanding of the Eucharist, the utilise of Latin in celebrating the Mass, and the benefits of iconography and music in worship.

Truth & Untruth

The reforms of The Council of Trent, while sincere, were also aimed at undermining the Protestant criticism of the Church and marking a distinct difference between Protestant and Catholic visions of Christianity. The rejection of Luther’s ‘religion lone’ and ‘scripture alone’ claims was central in establishing the Catholic claim as the sole authority in determining spiritual truth. By 1545, there were many different Protestant sects, each challenge they held to ‘true Christianity’ while the Church countered that, if all of these claimed to be right, none of them could be right, while the Church – which had the original mandate from Jesus Christ himself – could non perchance be wrong.

The Jesuits vowed to uphold the Church’s dominance & defend the Church with their lives.

The Jesuits and other Catholic clergy did not just make this merits and leave it as though it were self-evident, only they sought to refute the Protestant claims of ‘religion alone’ and ‘scripture alone’ through recourse to classical literature and, specifically, the field of study of philosophic skepticism as formulated by Sextus Empiricus (50. c. 160 to c. 210 CE) and based on the views of the skeptic philosopher Pyrrho of Elis (fifty. c. 360 to c. 270 BCE). Pyrrho maintained that one’due south senses could not be relied upon in making judgments or coming to conclusions and and then the best course was to refrain from doing either or taking other people’s conclusions also seriously.

The Church drew directly on the work of Empiricus, who wrote extensively on the discipline, to contend that the claims made by the Protestant leaders were in error considering they were cypher more than opinion. Empiricus writes, “To every statement an equal argument is opposed” (Outlines, XXVII.202), in clarifying Pyrrho’s claim that all argument is but opinion, cannot objectively be defined as related to ‘truth’ and, therefore, is nada to engage in or get upset past. The Church proceeded, so to speak, from this point to the question, “What if at that place were someone or something that could resolve an argument objectively, and so it was no longer a affair of opinion only truth?”

They then answered that question with the line from scripture: “Trust in the Lord with all your middle, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). The Church building, they claimed, every bit God’s representative on globe, could be trusted to tell the truth about the nature of the divine, while the Protestants were leaning on their own understanding and had rejected truth for untruth. This statement is the footing for Loyola’s claim that one should accept white is black if the Church says white is black and was also the underlying justification for other decrees by The Council of Trent, such equally The Inquisition and the Index of Prohibited Books. The Church building had immune its authority to exist challenged in 1517 and was not about to make that mistake over again. The Jesuits, especially, vowed to uphold that authorization and defend the Church with their lives.

Popular:   Describe the Conditions Necessary for Sublimation to Occur

Architecture, Fine art, & Music

The Jesuits became famous for their skills in debate and refutation of Protestant claims and were amid the all-time-educated and virtually articulate defenders of Catholicism. While these ‘soldiers of Christ’ were at work as missionaries and apologists, the Church furthered its aim of reestablishing its centrality and dominance through grand architectural projects and commissioning compositions and artworks to drag the souls of believers and exemplify the grandeur of the Cosmic vision.

This style – whether in art, architecture, trip the light fantastic toe, or music – came to be known as baroque, meaning “irregularly shaped” to differentiate it from the classical mode. Baroque churches and cathedrals featured broad, open up spaces, illuminated windows, and elaborately painted domes, with the altar equally the focal only inviting a congregant into a sacred space, which encouraged one to look up and around at the various works of art, including the building itself. The immensity of a Cosmic business firm of worship was purposefully designed to impress upon one the greatness of God and the individual’due south place in His world, to serve every bit an apotheosis of the scriptural admonitions “The earth is the Lord’due south, and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1) and “God is in heaven and you are on the globe; therefore let your words be few” (Ecclesiastes v:2). The artwork commissioned for these structures was intended to serve the aforementioned purpose.

Ecstasy of Saint Theresa

Ecstasy of Saint Theresa

Peter Jurik (CC BY-SA)

Although not all baroque fine art dealt with religious themes, many of the most famous did, such every bit
The Calling of St. Matthew
by Caravaggio or
The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa
by Bernini. Music followed the same prototype equally composers created works celebrating Christian themes whose aim was an pinnacle of an audition as in the cases of two of the best-known works, Händel’southward
and Bach’south
St. Matthew’s Passion. Although the Lutherans had immune music as office of worship and, somewhen, fine art, it was more small-scale. The Calvinists (followers of John Calvin, fifty. 1509-1564) banned music, trip the light fantastic, and whatever kind of iconography equally idolatrous. The Catholic Church sought to distance itself from these sects past encouraging an appreciation of fine art and music, which was intended to encourage one’s faith and close the previous separate between clergy and laypeople in the Church through direct communion with God.


The Church responded to the criticism that the hierarchy ignored individual interpretations of Christianity by recognizing figures such as Saint Theresa of Avila (fifty. 1515-1582) and Saint John of the Cantankerous (l. 1542-1591) while also noting their earlier recognition of other mystics including Hildegard of Bingen (l. 1098-1179) and Julian of Norwich (50. 1342-1416). These individuals, information technology was noted, claimed personal revelations just as Luther and other Protestants did just these were in line with the accustomed teachings of the Cosmic Church and so could be regarded as true. The claims of the reformers were dismissed as private interpretation, which amounted to opinion, not truth.

The Counter-Reformation continued pursuing its goals throughout the 17th century, sending Jesuit missionaries around the world to farther establish the authorisation of the Holy Catholic and Churchly Church until it concluded with the dissolution of the Holy League in 1699. The Holy League was an alliance of Christian nations mobilized confronting the aggression of the Ottoman Empire, and in one case that threat was neutralized after The Great Turkish War, the league disbanded.

This event is considered by some scholars as the cease of the Counter-Reformation in that it concluded a century of conflict encouraged by, or directly attributed to, differences in organized religion. According to some views, however, the Counter-Reformation has never ended every bit, by definition, it was a response to the challenge of widespread heresy and continues to stand against what it considers heretical views today. In this view, the Counter-Reformation is ongoing as the Church continues its claim equally the first and, therefore, truest embodiment of the Christian vision.

Did you similar this definition?

This commodity has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication.

The Counter Reformation Was a Religious and Political Movement That