There is a saying that Renaissance humanism laid the egg that the Reformation hatched. In plain sense, this means that when the sixteenth-century humanists turned back to original sources—reflecting carefully on the meaning of words in context, paying attention to details, and demonstrating both agility and humility of mind—they became a major catalyst for the reform of the church. The fact is that Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and the rest stood on the shoulders of humanist educational reforms: they themselves turned back to the Bible in its original languages; they cleared up generations of fuzzy, confused thinking about the gospel; and they promoted the instruction of the laity by writing new catechisms and confessions. In hindsight, one wonders if in the ordinary way of things there could have been a Reformation without a preceding Renaissance movement.
Ryan Glomsrud (D.Phil., University of Oxford) is Executive Editor for Modern Reformation and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the History Department at Harvard University. He earned his M.A. in Historical Theology from Westminster Seminary California and B.A. from Wheaton College, Illinois.
Issue: "Wired & Tired" May/June 2013 Vol. 22 No. 3 Page number(s): 4
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