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The more immediate background for the Age of Reformation includes factors which precede Luther by a Century and more. While the reformers themselves felt that these factors had roots in first century Christian history and literature, more directly relevant to the movement were political, social, and economic changes which produced severe tensions in the late medieval world. Some of these contributed significantly to the Protestant upheaval. Still more important, however, were diverse streams of religious ferment, such as late medieval scholasticism, mysticism, humanism, heretical propaganda , and anti-clericalism, which flowed toward a junction in the Reformation. While it must be insisted that it took dynamic personalities to trigger this movement, we must remember that these great figures were influenced by the ideas of their environment. These earlier streams of ferment may properly be called the prelude to reform. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section VII: The Protestant Movement. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.