Ecumenism - Week 2

Setting the Stage for the Protestant Reformation


This class sets the stage for the Protestant Reformation. A number of great theological doctrines were advanced because of the Protestant Reformation, but it came at the expense of ecumenism


This lesson examines a few main beliefs in Roman Catholicism that developed during the first 1500 years of the Church. Each of these beliefs is a point of contention between Protestants and Roman Catholics and even between different Protestant groups during the Reformation.


Perhaps more than any other question discussed during the Protestant Reformation is the question of authority. The question of authority surfaces with divisive results in three ways:

  1. The rise of the Emperor Constantine and the connection of Church and State would eventually lead Catholic and Protestant kings to claim authority of church matters in their region.
  2. In partial response to the power of the emperor the Church began a dialog concerning which Bishop was the most authoritative. The church in the west would refer to the bishop of Rome as father (pope); while the church in the east looked to the bishop of Jerusalem to fill this role. This debate eventually gave way to the “The Great Schism,” which is traditionally regarded as the first great church split in Church History.
  3. Protestants would claim that ultimate authority abides not with the Papacy but with scripture itself because (a) the apparent abuse of papal authority through things like the Crusades, (b) the universities emphasizing the study of Humanities which provided a translation of the Greek Bible (as opposed to the traditional Latin Vulgate), and (c) the production of the printing press which made scripture readily available to the populace. Each of these events set the stage for the Protestant Reformation and ultimately the Thirty Years’ War.


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