Introduction to the Protestant Reformation: The Counter-Reformation (part 4) Introduction to the Protestant Reformation: The Counter-Reformation (4 of 4) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris & Dr. Steven Zucker
Introduction to the Protestant Reformation: The Counter-Reformation (part 4)
- In the previous three videos,
- we looked briefly at what it was like to be a Christian
- before the Reformation, before 1517.
- Then we looked at Martin Luther;
- we looked at his ideas, and the spread of his ideas,
- as well as the violence that resulted.
- And for our final video,
- we want to look at the response by the Catholic Church and so,
- whereas we call what Luther and his followers did
- the Protestant Reformation,
- the Church's response is referred to as
- the Counter-Reformation,
- the word "counter" here meaning "against."
- Well, the Church had lost a lot.
- The church had lost lands, it had lost -
- - Faithful.
- That's right, it lost souls!
- And in the last video,
- we ended talking about violence.
- But the violence wasn't always against people.
- Sometimes, it was also against things.
- And churches, that is, the architecture of the Roman Catholics,
- which existed throughout Western Europe,
- was an important focus of the violence of the Protestants
- against the Catholic Church.
- The practice of Catholicism was incredibly visual,
- and there was a real concern among the Protestants -
- not so much by Luther, but mostly by his followers -
- that images were being abused,
- that they were being prayed to
- as if the images had power themselves,
- instead of just a way of reaching the Divine,
- of passing through the images to the Divine.
- That's right. Calvin, specifically,
- had a problem with this, and believed that
- the images in churches were actually creating a kind of idolatry.
- This goes back to the Second Commandment:
- "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image,
- or any likeness of any thing that is in the heaven above,
- or that is in the earth beneath,
- or that is in the water under the earth."
- So, this notion that to create is, in a sense,
- usurping a little bit of God's responsibility.
- That is, God creates.
- When an artist creates, it is a kind of falsehood.
- It is creating an idol.
- So, Protestants began waves of iconoclasm -
- that is, the destruction of images.
- Let's take apart that word for a moment, "iconoclasm."
- It's a compound that's made of two words:
- "icon," which is Greek for "image," and
- "clasm," which means "violence."
- So, it is literally "violence against images."
- And there were iconoclastic riots within five years or so
- after Luther's "Ninety-Five Theses."
- This is one of the great tragedies in the history of art, actually,
- where an untold number of paintings, of sculptures, were destroyed.
- And this happened especially in Northern Europe, in the Netherlands.
- So in essence, what the Protestants often did is,
- they took over a Catholic church,
- and they stripped it of all of those sensual forms,
- all of that sculpture, those tapestries,
- and left it a kind of pristine space.
- So, we know that Luther is going against Church teaching
- in all these different ways:
- Faith is the path to salvation, not good works.
- Scripture is the way to understand God,
- not listening to the teachings of the Church.
- Now, the Catholic Church didn't take all of this lying down, right?
- We know that there were efforts to make Luther
- bend to their will, right? At the Diet of Worms,
- for example; Luther is excommunicated after that.
- And by "excommunicated," we mean, basically,
- is no longer a member of the Church.
- In 1545, the Church holds something called the Council of Trent,
- essentially a kind of meeting of all of the highest levels of the Church in Europe.
- At first, the idea was really to reconcile with the Protestants.
- Protestants were invited. They didn't show up,
- however, and in the end, reconciliation was clearly impossible.
- One of the most important outcomes of the Council of Trent
- was that the Catholic Church reaffirmed its doctrines.
- That is, it doubled down.
- It said the very things that Luther had taken issue with were reaffirmed.
- So, regarding the issue of
- whether good works have a role in salvation,
- the Church said indeed they do.
- Regarding Purgatory and the efficacy of indulgences -
- do indulgences do anything, does Purgatory exist -
- the Church affirmed all of that.
- The Church affirmed transubstantiation,
- the changing of the bread and wine during the Eucharist
- to the body and blood of Christ.
- And by doing so, it affirmed the power and importance of the priesthood,
- and of the hierarchy of the Church.
- And lastly, the Church affirmed that Scripture alone wasn't enough,
- that one really also needed the teachings,
- the traditions of the Church.
- So, they gave very little ground.
- All they did was agree that in some areas,
- there was room for reform.
- They did try to stamp out the kind of corruption
- that had, in part, led to the Reformation.
- But let's get back to the images for a moment.
- Because that was also important in the Council of Trent.
- The Council said this: "Images of Christ,
- of the Virgin Mother of God, and of the other saints
- are to be placed and retained especially in the churches,
- and due honor and veneration is to be given to them."
- So they're reaffirming, immediately:
- Images belong in the Church.
- But what's important is why.
- They say, quote: "Because the honor which is shown them
- is referred to the prototypes which they represent."
- So, if somebody is honoring a statue of the Virgin Mary,
- they are actually affirming the honor to the Virgin Mary herself.
- But the Church said there was even more benefit.
- Yes. "Let the bishops diligently teach,
- that by means of the stories of the mysteries of our redemption
- portrayed in paintings and other representations
- the people are instructed and confirmed in their articles of faith."
- So, art was a way of actually didactically
- getting the ideas of the Church across to lay people,
- many of whom were still illiterate.
- And deepening their faith. That's right.
- "Also, that great profit is derived from all holy images
- because through the saints the miracles of God
- and salutary examples are set before the eyes of the faithful,
- so that they may fashion their own life and conduct
- in imitation of the saints and be moved to adore and love God and cultivate piety."
- So, the way in which art functions as an example
- that we can follow in our daily lives.
- So the Church's response is threefold.
- One, they reaffirm all the basic doctrines of the Church
- that had been attacked by the Protestants.
- They begin a major campaign to spread the teachings
- of the Catholic faith all around the world.
- Well remember, this is the Age of Discovery.
- The New World has been discovered,
- there's increasing trade with Asia, and with Africa;
- and so, the Catholics are really evangelizing in all of these places.
- The last in this threefold response of the Church
- is an effort to stamp out heresy.
- So the Church establishes the Inquisition, the Roman Inquisition;
- the Church also creates the Index of Forbidden Books.
- And it's just at this time that Ignatius Loyola
- founds the Jesuit order.
- The Jesuits are all about faithfulness.
- They have an absolute faith in the Pope,
- and they are at the Pope's disposal.
- The Jesuits establish schools,
- they spread the Christian faith throughout the world,
- and they fought Protestantism.
- There's a fabulous and very literal example
- of all of these ideas of the Counter-Reformation
- in a sculpture by an artist whose name is Le Gros,
- in the mother church of the Jesuits in Rome.
- The title of this sculpture is "Religion Overthrowing Heresy and Hatred."
- Okay now, first of all, it's important to know
- that the sculpture is just to the right and below
- a very large altar to St. Ignatius Loyola.
- At the top left, we see the figure of Religion
- wielding a thunderbolt and a cross.
- Now, by Religion, Le Gros means Roman Catholicism.
- And Religion is looking down at, and about to attack,
- two figures. One is an older female figure who represents Hatred,
- and the other figure, falling towards us,
- wrestling with snakes, is the allegoral figure that represents Heresy.
- He's falling over a series of books.
- And one of those book has on its spine Luther's name,
- so heresy here couldn't be any more explicit.
- Heresy is Luther. It is Protestantism.
- And as if that isn't making the point sharply enough,
- on the left, we see a little angelic figure,
- who's ripping pages out of the book by Luther's follower Zwingli.
- It's important to remember that each side saw the other as the devil.
- Luther called the Pope the Antichrist.
- The Pope called Luther the Antichrist.
- It was a time of black and white.
- There was no middle ground.
- And these divisions literally reshaped the countries of Europe.
- Even now, the countries in Southern Europe are predominantly Catholic.
- The countries in Northern Europe are predominantly Protestant.
- And even as late as the twentieth century,
- there is violence that erupts between these factions.
- We saw that through most of the twentieth century in Ireland, for example.
- It's also interesting to think about
- the ways that the Protestant Reformation set the stage for the modern world,
- this idea of not listening to a single authority,
- but listening to your own conscience.
- I think this is a key feature of the modern world.
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