Full Text for Church History 2- Volume 9 - Did Medieval Humanists Follow Luther? (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED TEXT CHURCH HISTORY 02 May 27, 2005 09-CH2 ***** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communications Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ***** >> NICK: Hello, Professors. My name is Nick. I have a question that I would like to ask. Up to now, I've been serving as a science teacher in a public school. As you might imagine, my college education in both arts and sciences was heavily influenced by humanism. I suppose that is probably true for all of us. You mention in your answer to David that Luther had learned a different method of reading the Bible as a result of his training in humanism. Did most humanists of the day choose to follow Luther? >> DR. CAMERON MCKENZIE: Well, that's a great question, Nick, because not all did, of course, follow Luther. Remember, humanism was an approach. It was a method. It wasn't necessarily about a specific theology. So you have humanists who become Lutherans, humanists who stay in the Roman church. The important thing is, though, they continued to speak to each other in a sort of common theological language in the fact that you do have humanists in both camps is what enabled Lutherans and Roman Catholics to continue in dialogue with each other through much of the 16th century. So that's the short answer to your question. Some did and some didn't become Lutheran. Now, the interesting question is why do some humanists choose to follow Luther and others don't? One theory on this was advanced by Lewis *Spitz who says you can chart a generational difference in humanists that older humanists like Erasmus tend to remain with the Roman church. Younger humanists like Philip Melanchthon tended to follow Luther. In other words, these younger generations were willing to be a little more radical, were willing to question what the church had always taught based on their new understanding of scripture and of how theology ought to be done. There are scholars who will say without humanism, you wouldn't have had the Reformation. And you can probably make a very good case for that. But remember, there are humanists really across the map, and although they try to do theology in this new way, they try to, for example, get Aristotle out of the universities and out of the realm of theology. It doesn't necessarily work for very long. And even at the University of Wittenberg where Luther and Melanchthon were teaching, Aristotle was used in the theology again by the end of the 16th century. So it's a rather complex issue. The important thing for us right now is to just realize there is this wider argument about studying classical texts using original languages that has a lot to do with how theology is done. And Luther and Melanchthon and the other reformers are very involved in this and very influenced by it.