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Chapter 18. Preparation for Reform. Questions to be addressed in this chapter. What did Meister Eckhart teach and how did he encourage reform? What role did Ockham and nominalism play leading up to the Reformation? How did the realism of Wyclif contribute to a climate of reform ?.

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chapter 18

Chapter 18

Preparation for Reform

questions to be addressed in this chapter
Questions to be addressed in this chapter
  • What did Meister Eckhart teach and how did he encourage reform?
  • What role did Ockham and nominalism play leading up to the Reformation?
  • How did the realism of Wyclif contribute to a climate of reform?
meister eckhart
Meister Eckhart
  • Lived c. 1260-1328 mostly in present-day Germany.
  • Worked on a massive scholarly project in Latin called the Opus Tripartum.
  • Left numerous manuscripts in German—mostly sermons—which are more devotional in nature.
  • Union with God is the dominant theme of his work, which verged on pantheism.
  • His emphasis on personal religious experience instead of institutional rituals helped foster the environment of reformation.
universals ockham and the via moderna
Universals, Ockham, and the via moderna
  • The central issue in the debate between Aristotelians and Platonists in the late Middle Ages was over the meaning of universal terms.
  • Oxford Franciscans Duns Scotus and William of Ockham defended Aristotelian nominalism.
  • Nominalism chipped away at the authority of the papacy and the Church by intimating that these are human conventions rather than eternally existing ideas.
  • Nominalism came to be called the via moderna, the modern way, as opposed to the realists of the past.
  • John Wyclif (c. 1328-1384) was a trained academic and lived the life of a scholar in Oxford.
  • Used the realist position of the Platonists to object to the Catholic position on transubstantiation.
  • The Bible was the final authority for Wyclif because he took it to be the repository of eternal truth. He spearheaded a movement to translate the Bible into colloquial languages.
  • Wyclif actively called for reforms in the Church and had an important influence on Jan Hus, one of the reformers in the 15th century.
the lord s prayer from wyclif s 1395 bible
The Lord’s Prayer from Wyclif’s 1395 Bible

“Ourefadir that art in heuenes, halewid be thi name; thikyngdoom come to; be thiwille don `in erthe as in heuene; yyue to vs this daioure `breed ouerothirsubstaunce; and foryyue to vsouredettis, as we foryyuen to ouredettouris; and ledevs not in to temptacioun, but delyuerevs fro yuel. Amen.” Matthew 6:9-14

(p. 313)

summary of main points
Summary of main points
  • Eckhart pushed the masses toward accepting a personal brand of religion which did not depend on the Church as mediator between people and God.
  • Nominalism and the via modernaundermined the belief that the Church was an objective feature of the structure of reality, and that there were other models which could serve the same purpose.
  • Wyclif’s realism produced doctrines of Bible, Church, and Eucharist that were open challenges to the authority of the Roman Catholic Church.