The Rise of Protestantism

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In this film, Stephen Fry goes on a journey to explore the story of the printing press, and of the man who created it: Johann Gutenberg. Johanen Tetzel was a German friar renowned for selling indulgences. Florence was the city at the centre of the Renaissance.


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It was largely controlled by the upper classes and administered for their benefit. On Midsummer's Day in a 17 year old was crowned king of England. He would go on to transform his realm over almost four decades on the throne. Man or monster, statesman or tyrant? Find out more or adjust your settings. This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best user experience possible. Cookie information is stored in your browser and performs functions such as recognising you when you return to our website and helping our team to understand which sections of the website you find most interesting and useful.

Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings. If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. Fundamentalist theology tends to stress Biblical inerrancy and Biblical literalism. Toward the end of the 20th century, some have tended to confuse evangelicalism and fundamentalism; however, the labels represent very distinct differences of approach that both groups are diligent to maintain, although because of fundamentalism's dramatically smaller size it often gets classified simply as an ultra-conservative branch of evangelicalism.

Modernism and liberalism do not constitute rigorous and well-defined schools of theology, but are rather an inclination by some writers and teachers to integrate Christian thought into the spirit of the Age of Enlightenment. New understandings of history and the natural sciences of the day led directly to new approaches to theology. Its opposition to the fundamentalist teaching resulted in religious debates, such as the Fundamentalist—Modernist Controversy within the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America in the s.

Although the Reformation was a religious movement, it also had a strong impact on all other aspects of life: marriage and family, education, the humanities and sciences, the political and social order, the economy, and the arts. As the Reformers wanted all members of the church to be able to read the Bible, education on all levels got a strong boost.

By the middle of the eighteenth century, the literacy rate in England was about 60 per cent, in Scotland 65 per cent, and in Sweden eight of ten men and women were able to read and to write.

Protestant Museum

For example, the Puritans who established Massachusetts Bay Colony in founded Harvard College only eight years later. About a dozen other colleges followed in the 18th century, including Yale Pennsylvania also became a centre of learning. Members of mainline Protestant denominations have played leadership roles in many aspects of American life , including politics, business, science, the arts, and education.

They founded most of the country's leading institutes of higher education.

The Protestant Reformation and the allocation of resources in Europe | VOX, CEPR Policy Portal

The Protestant concept of God and man allows believers to use all their God-given faculties, including the power of reason. That means that they are allowed to explore God's creation and, according to Genesis , make use of it in a responsible and sustainable way. Thus a cultural climate was created that greatly enhanced the development of the humanities and the sciences.

Industry, frugality, calling, discipline, and a strong sense of responsibility are at the heart of their moral code.


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Therefore, craftsmen, industrialists, and other businessmen were able to reinvest the greater part of their profits in the most efficient machinery and the most modern production methods that were based on progress in the sciences and technology. As a result, productivity grew, which led to increased profits and enabled employers to pay higher wages. In this way, the economy, the sciences, and technology reinforced each other. The chance to participate in the economic success of technological inventions was a strong incentive to both inventors and investors.

This idea is also known as the "Protestant ethic thesis.

A child reforms the Church of England

However, eminent historian Fernand Braudel d. Yet it is clearly false.

The northern countries took over the place that earlier had been so long and brilliantly been occupied by the old capitalist centers of the Mediterranean. They invented nothing, either in technology or business management. In a factor analysis of the latest wave of World Values Survey data, Arno Tausch Corvinus University of Budapest found that Protestantism emerges to be very close to combining religion and the traditions of liberalism.

The Global Value Development Index, calculated by Tausch, relies on the World Values Survey dimensions such as trust in the state of law, no support for shadow economy, postmaterial activism, support for democracy, a non-acceptance of violence, xenophobia and racism, trust in transnational capital and Universities, confidence in the market economy, supporting gender justice, and engaging in environmental activism, etc. Episcopalians and Presbyterians , as well as other WASPs , tend to be considerably wealthier [] and better educated having graduate and post-graduate degrees per capita than most other religious groups in United States , [] and are disproportionately represented in the upper reaches of American business , [] law and politics , especially the Republican Party.

Protestantism has had an important influence on science. According to the Merton Thesis , there was a positive correlation between the rise of English Puritanism and German Pietism on the one hand and early experimental science on the other.

He explained that the connection between religious affiliation and interest in science was the result of a significant synergy between the ascetic Protestant values and those of modern science. In the Middle Ages, the Church and the worldly authorities were closely related.


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Martin Luther separated the religious and the worldly realms in principle doctrine of the two kingdoms. Luther's doctrine of the priesthood of all believers upgraded the role of laymen in the church considerably. The members of a congregation had the right to elect a minister and, if necessary, to vote for his dismissal Treatise On the right and authority of a Christian assembly or congregation to judge all doctrines and to call, install and dismiss teachers, as testified in Scripture ; Politically, Calvin favoured a mixture of aristocracy and democracy.

He appreciated the advantages of democracy : "It is an invaluable gift, if God allows a people to freely elect its own authorities and overlords. To further protect the rights of ordinary people, Calvin suggested separating political powers in a system of checks and balances separation of powers. Thus he and his followers resisted political absolutism and paved the way for the rise of modern democracy. It granted asylum to philosophers like Baruch Spinoza and Pierre Bayle. Hugo Grotius was able to teach his natural-law theory and a relatively liberal interpretation of the Bible. Consistent with Calvin's political ideas, Protestants created both the English and the American democracies.

Australia, New Zealand, and India. Protestants also took the initiative in advocating for religious freedom. Freedom of conscience had high priority on the theological, philosophical, and political agendas since Luther refused to recant his beliefs before the Diet of the Holy Roman Empire at Worms In his view, faith was a free work of the Holy Spirit and could, therefore, not be forced on a person. These colonies became safe havens for persecuted religious minorities, including Jews.

The strongest link between the American and French Revolutions was Marquis de Lafayette , an ardent supporter of the American constitutional principles. The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was mainly based on Lafayette's draft of this document. Democracy, social-contract theory, separation of powers, religious freedom, separation of church and state—these achievements of the Reformation and early Protestantism were elaborated on and popularized by Enlightenment thinkers.

As all persons were created equally free, all governments needed "the consent of the governed. Also, other human rights were advocated for by some Protestants. He also founded the Red Cross.

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Protestants have founded hospitals, homes for disabled or elderly people, educational institutions, organizations that give aid to developing countries, and other social welfare agencies. To Bismarck this was "practical Christianity". Luther Monument in Worms , which features some of the Reformation's crucial figures.

A Huguenot, on St.

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The Return of the Prodigal Son , detail, c. The Church at Auvers , By Vincent van Gogh. The view of the Roman Catholic Church is that Protestant denominations cannot be considered churches but rather that they are ecclesial communities or specific faith-believing communities because their ordinances and doctrines are not historically the same as the Catholic sacraments and dogmas, and the Protestant communities have no sacramental ministerial priesthood [o] and therefore lack true apostolic succession.