The Reformation: Notion and Peculiarities of the Phenomenon

In the first half of the XVI century a wide social, political, and economical movement, which had an anti-feudal gist and religious ideological form, took place in Western and Central Europe. This movement paved the way for the early bourgeois revolutions, created a new type of the personality, formulated the foundations of the bourgeois morality, religion, philosophy, and ideology of civil society. It was the answer for the crisis of human spirit caused by the social, economical, and cultural situation in XVI century. This movement was named The Reformation and founded by Martin Luther (1483-1546).

The Reformation was caused by the range of processes in various social spheres. If we do not take into consideration the back side of the Renaissance, it gave people a spiritual freedom, a freedom to create, to think, to believe and to perceive a human being to be the highest value. During the Renaissance, the first steps of secularization were made. Secular tendencies resulted in doubts referred to the absolute power of church. It was in a contradiction to the appearance of new national states, which denied the encroachments of the church to be universal and have the jurisdiction over the secular processes. At the same time, the church, as the institute, deeply stuck in vices. The corruption embraced the whole church hierarchy, priests sold indulgence. Therefore, the intellectual elite became concerned with the situation in religious affairs; they rejected medieval dogmata and superstitions. Thus, humanists were able to understand that the state of church differs from the state described in the Bible.

The Reformation is considered to begin in 1517, when Martin Luther wrote his 95 theses with the criticism of church. It was very new, because Luther did it not from the point of view of humaneness, but from a criticism of dogmata - Christian aspect of the doctrine.  The principles of his edifice were: 1) salvation of the human being doesn’t depend on the “good deeds” (ceremonies, sacrifices for the sake of the Church), but only on the faith in propitiation of Christ; 2) the source of the genuine truth is not an oral tradition, but only Scripture.

In the first half of the XVI century Lutheranism was spread in the North Germany. It was recognized as the official religion in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. After Lutheranism, other variants of reformation doctrines arose. The founder of one of them was Jean Calvin. Swiss town Geneva, where he settled, became one of the centers of the Reformation. Calvinism was spread in Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, and France.

The dissemination of reformation ideas in Great Britain resulted in the occurrence of the Anglican Church. According to the “Act of supremacy” 1534, Henry VIII became the leader of it. 

The Reformation has a lot in common with the Renaissance. They existed almost in the same time. They both emphasized the return to the purity of the origins, the opposition to the scholastic philosophy, the criticism of the formalism in religious life, the intention of the reformation of the education and religion. They both had the same background: they had ripened in the depths of the feudalism with its natural manufacture. However, the humanists conceived their ideals to be in classical messages of the ancient golden epoch, and the reformers – in early Church and Scripture. Nevertheless, the Renaissance must be considered an indispensable prerequisite of the Reformation, because the Renaissance founded the branch of skepticism and critical view, made a turn to the problem of the individuality, and started the process of the emancipation of the mind from church dogmata.

To sum up, the Reformation was a consequence of the variety of processes, which ensured the background of the Modern times. The Reformation changed the appearance of Europe, favored the progressive establishment of that social and cultural state, which exists until nowadays in the majority of European countries.

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