After the establishment of Christianity, the newly founded religion went through major transformations that lasted several centuries and were difficult to go unnoticed. With the break from classicism and Hellenism, the foundation of Christianity grew dramatically and offered a spiritual break and feel of self-worth with a more reasonable view point (Perry 171). After the origin of the new religion, the major growth caused the Roman Empire to convert to Christianity and become the central religion (Perry 178). Individuals were mainly attracted to its teachings of eternal salvation and of a more positive relationship with a loving portrayal of God (Perry 179). With the growing power of Christianity and the heavy influence of Greek philosophy, a body of devoted individuals took on the formation of a group known as the Christian Church. In the beginning, the Christian organization was broken down into regions, where officials, or bishops, would be on charge of one particular area. The idea of the Bishop of Rome at the time, or the pope, has a significant role in “inheriting the power that Christ has passed on to Peter,” which was originated during this time (Perry 184).
In 410, the vandals captured Rome and blamed the catastrophe on Christians due to the fact that they focused on God and less on the state. One major influence that stood against this belief came from St. Augustine, one of the most important scholars of his time. In his work entitled, The City of God, Augustine argued against the idea of Christians being the reason for the collapse of the Roman Empire. “For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God” (Augustine). In his writing, Augustine stressed the importance of the individual’s spiritual lifestyle rather than focusing on the empire and state. The early teachings of Christianity stressed the individual spirituality and was open to all people. However, the Western Civilization changed dramatically once the Medieval Church became more structured within the society. Due to its transformation and high influence in politics, culture, and society as a whole, the Catholic Church focused on gaining wealth instead of its commitment in spreading the former teachings. With these dramatic adaptations, it was obvious that these were not only noticed by the society, but also by the Church who were fully aware of their progressive changes.
By the Late Middle Ages, several theologians and reformers were rejecting the pope’s power over all of Western Christendom. With the Church being too preoccupied in gaining wealth and power, the Church hardly took notice or even cared enough to prevent the Reformation from taking place. The Church was fully aware of what was happening, but they ignored the rebellions and believed that they were not a serious threat and that a Reformation was not even possible. It was clear that reformists publicly rejected papal authority and some of the corrupt teachings made by the Church (Perry 316). This dissatisfaction lasted for years, and people began to feel less intimidated by the clerical authority (Perry 317). Another example was presented in one of Erasmus’ satirical work, Praise of Folly, where he argued the defects of the Church’s corrupt practices and teachings. In his work Erasmus