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The Separation of the Catholic Church Essay

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Updated: Jan 15th, 2022

Church was an important social mechanism for all times. Referring to the religion history and the history of theology we may find many interesting and explaining facts from the past to understand today’s religious and social reality. This paper highlights the premises of the schism between the Roman Church and the Protestants. An analysis reveals a problem of the abuse of authority in the Catholic Church as the main precondition for Conservative Protestants appearance.

From the XIV – XV century in the Middle Italy and Flanders, and then from the end of XV century and all around the Europe, formation of a new social class – bourgeoisie, has started. For the first, it needed a new religion, different from Catholicism with its cheapness and simplicity. Catholic Eparchy became needless for Bourgeois for its expensive organization which included Pope, cardinals, bishops, abbeys and church landowning. Catholic Church with its endless requisitions and extortions of the peasants caused a total hate of people. When an indecent behavior of Church has strengthened, peoples’ hate just became stronger.

Dissatisfaction of the work of a church was shared between all social estates: peasantry was ruined by tithe, posthumous requisitions, craftsmen industry couldn’t compete with church production, which hasn’t been taxed. All those financial conspiracy and moral corruption of the priesthood inspired Martin Luther for a speech which was spoken at the Wittenberg Castle Church, where he nailed to its doors his “95 theses” (Shell, p. 164). They are about the indulgence selling and the Pope’s power on forgiveness of sins. His propagated doctrine talked that church and clergy have no right to claim themselves as an intercessor between human and God. Papal church pretentions on the ability, given them by God, for an “absolution” and “salvation of the souls” via the Sacraments, that they supposedly had, were declared as false by Martin Luther. The main idea raised by him is that human reaches the “salvation” (or “justification”) without a help of church, but by the faith, endowed by God (Berg, p. 141).

Also, Luther disposed the authority of the Sacred Tradition that is the resolutions of church and papal decrees, giving the main role of the only source of religious verity to the Scripture (Berg, p. 141).

People were tormented by extortions and requisitions arranged by church, which caused a conflict between them. That was a basic reason for split and separation of the Catholic Church. Bourgeoisie supported that change for own material sake, so that has reflected in the conception and in the forming of Protestantism. So what do we see? Religious reasons are just a background comparing to greed of power and money.

The gap between these two groups (Catholicism and Protestantism) appears to be increasing over time. Future reunification of the Christian religion was essentially impossible and is getting more so. Let’s consider some of their differences.

Authority within the Roman Catholic Church is vested in the hierarchy, in spite of Conservative Protestants, who proclaim a soul freedom, where congregations and denominations are explained according to their individual interpretation of the meaning of the Bible (Koehn 158).

Discipline in the Catholic Church has a pressure from the clergy and Italy. In serious cases, errant members can be denied the sacraments or excommunicated. Protestants have the same source of pressure. But various denominations have formal policies of shunning, disfellowshipping and excommunication (Koehn, p. 159).

Going on, we’ve found that Catholic Church defines Limbo as a place for infants who die before being baptized, and for Old Testament saints. Concept is not officially taught and most Catholic theologians have abandoned belief in limbo. As for Protestants, they are denying the existence of Limbo.

Considerable part of Protestant religion concept is, curiously enough, denying of settled Catholic rules, laws, traditions based on achieving profits and worth-living.

For instance, Catholics in their prayer may ask Jesus, Mary, or a saint to intercede on their behalf. Protestants prayer is addressed only to God.

Catholics teach that the bread and wine during the mass becomes the actual body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. Protestants generally regard the two components as only symbolic of Jesus’ body and blood, so we can call them more objective (Shell, p. 81).

Any comparisons, such as these, are inevitably simplistic. Within Evangelical Protestantism there are often significant differences among Baptists, Calvinists, Christians of the Reform tradition, Fundamentalists, Pentecostals, etc., that cannot be explained in a few words.

Protestant Christianity religion looks more like an invisible fellowship of individuals in spite of complex and structured organization of Roman Catholicism religion in action.

There are too much more differences between these two divided religions still. And we also think that the main visible differences in the concepts of the given religions are enough to make a conclusion about what has led them to the break up many centuries ago.

The reason of a split simply hides in a human nature. Some people prefer to influence other people. As John Dalberg (1834-1902) said, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Himmelfarb 7). The more you embrace yourself with power, the more your personality is being corrupted and your soul is vanished. That is when you become an aggressor and find yourself your own Protestants, who are individualistic and self-sufficient enough to stand for themselves against your destructive power. We can’t state of who is wrong or right. We can just display the differences between them to help someone make a decision of which side to join.

Works Cited

  1. Berg, Johannes Van Den. Religious Currents and Cross-Currents: Essays on Early Modern Protestantism and the Protestant Enlightenment. Ed Jan De Bruijn, Pieter Holtrop and Ernestine Van Der Wall. Boston: Brill, 1999.
  2. Himmelfarb, Gertrude. Lord Acton: A Study in Conscience and Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952. Print.
  3. Koehn, Philip. Choosing your Religion: The Book of Denominations. Seattle: Createspace, 2009.
  4. Shell, Alison. Catholicism, Controversy, and the English Literary Imagination, 1558-1660. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Print.
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