Did the Renaissance lead the Protestant Reformation? Without the Renaissance, it is difficult to imagine that the Protestant Reformation could have succeeded in Europe. The Renaissance placed human beings at the center of life and had shown that this world was not just a ‘vale of tears’ but could be meaningful, and it was possible for people to live without reference to the divine.<ref>Giustiniani, Vito. "Ho, mo, Humanus, and the Meanings of Humanism," <i>Journal of the History of Ideas 46 </i> (vol. 2, April – June 1985), p 178</ref> The Renaissance or ‘rebirth’ was influenced by the ideas of the ancient past and it drew from Roman and Greek civilization to provide a solution to current problems.
After the humanists’ revelations, many of the faithful began to wonder if the Pope. ‘as the heir of St Peter’ was infallible and should he be rendered unquestioned obedience.<ref> Patrick, p 117</ref> The reformers under the influence of the Humanists began to examine the Bible, which they saw as the unquestioned Word of God, to find answers. They became less inclined to take the words of the Pope as law and argued that only the Bible was the source of authority. Like the Humanists, they decided to go back to the ‘sources,’ in this case, the Bible. They eventually came to see the Bible as the only source of authority. They increasingly began to view the Pope and the Catholic Church as having distorted the Gospels' message.<ref>Collinson, p. 115</ref> This belief soon gained widespread currency among many Reformers and those sympathetic to them in Germany and elsewhere.
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The Renaissance was a cultural flourishing that promoted secular values over religious values. However, in Northern Europe, the ideas of the Renaissance were to take on a religious character. The ideas of the Italian humanists, such as textual analysis, the use of critical thinking, and rejecting authority that was not sourced on reliable evidence were taken up by Northern Humanists who applied them to the Church.<ref>Chipps, p. 67</ref>
The Northern Humanists sought to reform the Church and were generally pious men. However, the humanists perhaps unintentionally weakened the Papacy and its theoretical underpinnings. In their examination of key texts and especially the Bible, they exposed many key assumptions as false. This was to lead to a widespread challenge to the idea of Papal Infallibility and the Church's power structure.<ref> Chipps, p. 17</ref> The Renaissance also encouraged people to question received wisdom and offered the possibility of change, which was unthinkable in the middle ages. This encouraged the reformers to tackle abuses in the Church, which ultimately led to the schism and the end of Christendom's old idea.