The Influence of Humanism on the Main Magisterial Reformers
John F. Lingelbach
Vol. 2, No. 2
In light of the wide acknowledgement that humanism influenced the Protestant Reformation, one must ask the question about how much of what Protestantism maintains owes a debt to this modern ideology often juxtaposed in contrast to Christianity. Given the remarkable role of such a controversial ideology during a seminal period of the modern church, this study seeks an answer to the following question: how did the humanism movement of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries impact the lives and work of the main Magisterial Reformers? This research is important and necessary because discovering the answer to this question leads to an understanding of the larger question of how humanism impacts the Protestant tradition. Understanding the nature of this impact sheds light on what Protestantism means and may induce some Christians to contemplate why they call or do not call themselves “Protestants” or “humanists.” This present study progressed through four phases. First, the study sought to describe the humanism of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Second, it sought to describe the impact this humanism had on society. Third, the study analyzed how the social impacts of the humanism of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries served to advance or hinder the causes of the main Magisterial Reformers. Finally, it synthesized the findings. This paper argues and concludes that the humanism of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries impacted the lives and work of the main Magisterial Reformers by facilitating their desire to include the common people in a religious world previously dominated by the elite.