The Protestant Reformation and Catholic/Counter Reformation

Hist 130, Medieval and Early Modern Civilizations (Spring 2020) Simplified-Revised

Writing Assignment: The Protestant Reformation and Catholic/Counter Reformation

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Write a 2-3 page paper on one of the topic options outlined below. Further instructions on writing and
submitting the paper are offered below. Make sure you read through these and follow the guidelines (it will save you a lot to time). You may not write on a topic other than the ones offered below to meet the requirement of this assignment. (Or let me restate that. If you write on a topic other than the ones offered below, I will not read or grade it.)

Paper Content: For one of the options outlined below read the indicated documents in The Protestant
Reformation, or documents on the Catholic Reformation (uploaded), consult your notes from our discussion in class and look over the contents of the textbook.

Your essay should include:
a) A brief introduction stating your theme. Assume your reader already knows what the Reformation
was about. Your introduction should introduce the topic you are writing about, and thesis, or
understanding about that theme that you will show is in the documents.
b) A discussion of what is in the documents, who writes it, what Reformation tradition they are a part
of, and what they say.
c) A discussion about the different (or similar) positions that the various writers take, or the arguments
they make.
d) A conclusion stating what this theme or argument tells us about the Reformation and its meaning in
history and for us today.

Topic Options: Choose 1 (one)

a) Questions following the topic are illustrative, not the only ones to ask, nor the ones you might find
yourself writing on. They are meant to start your thinking on the topic.
b) Make sure you note in your paper what tradition the person or document you are writing about is
from (for example, Luther is from “Lutheranism,” Peter Riedemann is a Hutterite, Philip Mornay was a
part of the Reformed (Calvinist) tradition, and John Jewel is an Anglican). The introductions to the
specific texts will explain who they are and what tradition they write within and from.
c) Use at least two of the sources listed.

Topic 1. Spiritual Experience. Martin Luther proclaimed that one must experience Christian faith to know what it really is. What kinds of experiences of Christian faith do people write about in the Reformation? How are they different? How do they relate their experienced to the scripture, to a personal sense of sin or goodness? What do they seek and experience, and why? Martin Luther, “The Freedom of the Christian,” 31-39, (you do not need to use all of it); Argula von Grumbach, 150-162; Elizabeth, a Dutch Anabaptist, 195-204; Castellio, “About Heretics,” 328-32.

Topic 2. Reformation of Society. What were the abuses or problems of late medieval/early modern society that seemed to need reform? What kinds of actions, beliefs, etc. were criticized by the various reformers and reforming traditions? Try to identify a variety of different needs for reform. “The Grievances of the German People,” 1-7; “Summary Instruction for Indulgence Preachers,” 14-18; Tetzel, “A Sermon,” 19-21; Frederick the Wise, “Wittenberg Book of Holies,” 22-24; “Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants, 93-97.

Topic 3. Church and State: How do some of the Reformation traditions revise or explain the relationships between Church authority and governmental power? And what should be the response of the Christian citizen or subject to those in governmental authority? This is a long-standing theme in our study, what considerations does the Reformation bring to our understanding? Documents to discuss: Luther, Concerning Governmental Authority, pp. 73-79, 82-87; The Schleitheim Confession of Faith, 173-181; and Philip Mornay, A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants, 255-263.

Topic 4. Order, Authority and Reform in the Church. How should the church be administered and what should its offices be? How are these offices to be determined, or chosen? What are the dangers and opportunities of change and how should they be pursued? What is the new church order to look like? Luther, Invocavit Sermons, 59-65; Argula von Grumbach, Account of a Christian Woman, 150-60; The Schleitheim Confession of Faith, 172-82; John Calvin, Ecclesiastical Ordinances, 205-12.

Topic 5. The Catholic/Counter Reformation. What is at the heart of the gospel, or the teaching of the Christian faith? What is most important for the Catholic Christian to know from the gospels, and what should the reader look for in them, and how should the reader respond to them? And what is the role of a Bishop, the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church, and what personal, moral and religious qualities should have? Use two documents on reserve in the library in The Catholic Reformation: Savonarola to Ignatius Loyola, ed and by John C. Olin. New York: Fordham University Press, 1992. 1) Gaspar Contarini’s De Officio Episcopi, pp. 93-106. (English translation of the title: “The Duties of a Bishop.” Note: there is a brief biography of Contarini and his work on pp. 90-92.) 2) Jacques Lefevre d’Etaples Commentaries on the Four Gospels, 1521, pp. 111-117. (Note: there is a brief biography of Lefevre and his work on pp. 107-110.)

Other Sources: You may do additional research if you like, but you do not need to. If you do research, you should use academically acceptable sources. This usually means you will have to use the library. SparkNotes, CliffsNotes, schoolhelper, enotes, and other such internet sources, blogs, church websites etc. are not reliable nor acceptable sources. Blogs from pastors, amateur historians, students, etc. are not reliable or acceptable sources for this assignment. They specialize in simplifying understanding beyond what is helpful and keeping you away from the historical sources themselves. Use of them will result in a reduced grade. The priority for this assignment is and should be reading the “primary sources” indicated below in the topic options and interpreting them to discover their meaning. If you do additional research, remember that your primary assignment and purpose is to interpret the primary texts listed in question, not to explain what someone else thinks about the topic.

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