Example Of Essay On How The Reformation Draw Upon The Values And Insight Of The Renaissance Humanists
Studies have suggested that the most significant idea used in distinguishing Renaissance from the middle Ages is humanism. Many textbooks and readings also claim that the humanist of Renaissance discovered the Latin and Greek classics; hence, leading to the rebirth or renaissance of the known classical world, which humanist philosophy emphasized the humanity dignity, and that humanists diverted the intellectual emphasis off the theology as well as logic to specifically human studies. As this program was being pursued, the arguments keeps going on, the humanist came up with the European Renaissance and created a pathway for the modern, secular world. However, just like any other origin myth, this account is neither entirely true nor false. This paper will focus to bring out how the Reformation drew upon the values of Renaissance humanists (Baylor 79).
There was later a great scholarly interest in the new classics. As a result of the interest that was shown, the early humanists decided to recover the study of Greek and Hebrew, and also started rethinking their views of the world as well as their social organization by drawing on principles got from the authors of antiquity. To some extent, this was more than just scholarship. The classical humanists were very much engaged in syncretism. This is a project that mixes their present society and world view with that of the ideas and thoughts of the old Roman and Greek world. It is sometimes said that the most important work of the Italian Renaissance was not the sculptures, architecture of the paintings; it was an essay (Baylor 84).
In this case, it was Pico Della Mirandola’s discourse on the dignity of man. In the essay, Pico forcefully illustrates the great shift of attention to human capacity as well as the human perspective. Pico shows a massive intellect and also studied close to everything there was to study about the renaissance in the university curriculum. His essay on the dignity of man mainly focuses on being a preface to a massive compilation of all the intellectual attainments. His influence as a philosopher was mainly due to his work that synthesized close to every strain of renaissance. These were the humanism, Neoplatonism, Aristotelianism, Averroes as well as the mysticism. Humanism is nothing like anti-Christian as modern fundamentalists make it appear. Many do not seem to realize that late medieval and early modern humanism are just the opposite. Renaissance humanism was a reaction to the standard education program that mainly focused on logic and linguistics together with the great late medieval Christian philosophy, Scholasticism (Mirandola 4). Humanism was a discrete movement that emerged as a result of the medieval culture or tradition of having devoutly religious inspiration for creating literary works of art. Humanists were concerned with secular or earthly items instead of adhering to religious themes. This emphasis on secularism arose due to more materialistic interpretation of the world. Disparate to the medieval period, Renaissance individuals were apprehensive of the money and the enjoyment of life and all its earthly pleasures. Humanists glorified a person and held the conviction that an individual has an unlimited potential and is a degree of all things.
Rather than concentrating on what they considered futile questions of logic and proposition analysis, the humanists put focus on the relation of human to divine. To them, they considered human beings the summit and purpose of God’s creation. They put much effort into defining the human place and position in God’s creation, as well as the relation of human to divine. Therefore, much of their thoughts were centered in the ‘human’ relation to the divine, hence calling themselves the humanists. They do not ignore their religion at any given point. In fact, humanism is first and foremost a religious and educational movement. It is not a secular one. However, it is significant to mention that this is contrary to what Erasmus believed in. He criticized religious narrow-mindedness and had a strong belief in human goodness.
Whereas Luther was greatly convinced with the entire helplessness of the human creature, Erasmus strongly believed that the perfectibility and goodness of the human creature are brought about by their efforts. The basic belief of Erasmus in the goodness of human beings informs his views on education. He also believed that classical education could help a lot in spiritual growth as well as enhancing the significance of elaborate dogma. Many of the educational books he wrote advocated the significance of both the classical and the scriptures. Erasmus saw no major difficulty in combining classics and scriptures in the curriculum of schools. For Erasmus, education had the magical power and quality, first advanced by Plato, for giving shape to the mind as well as the attitudes of both rulers and those that are ruled to the gain of the entire community (Baylor 75).
However, humanism held the notion that religious truth was to be revealed to everyone, both Christians and non-Christians. Part of their project was therefore to ensure they reconcile the non-Christian thinking to Christian thinking and particularly Plato and his followers and to show through analysis of texts, the available similarities between the non-Christian philosophies and Christian philosophies as well as religion.
On the other hand, studies also detail that former reformation started with the publication of Luther’s ninety-five theses as well as his consequent excommunication by the pope in 1520. His theses attacked the entire theology and the whole church structure that stood behind them. According to Luther, individual faith forms the cornerstone of his theology. Through this, he suggests that only through private communication with God that an individual can hope for attaining salvation from original sin. His emphasis on liberty of individuals was attached to the religious field. However, in political and social field, obedience ruled the day. To him, disobedience is sin greater than murder, theft, dishonesty and all others that go with them. Only in situations where a ruler acts in a manner that is against God, may the subjects disobey him (Luther 34). Rulers, however, are entitled to using force to ensure that peace and security are preserved in the society. Looking at this in political terms, what Luther’s value system was able to attain, albeit unintentionally, was to replace the tyranny of the monarchy with that of papacy as well as to encourage the process that saw the gradual substitution of the church welfare with the parish welfare.
Baylor, M. The radical Reformation. pg. 74-95.
Luther, M. Concerning Christian Liberty: Letter of Martin Luther to Pope Leo. pg. 1-48.
Mirandola, G. Oration on the Dignity of Man. pg. 1-5.
Petrarch: Internet Medieval Source Book: The Ascent of Mount Ventoux. pg. 1-6. Retrieved From: http://history.hanover.edu/early/petrarch/pet17.htm.
Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.
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