Ad Fontes

“Without humanism, there would have been no Reformation."

Certainly, most Christians would find the previous statement to be quite strange. And indeed, this would be a strange statement if 14th century humanism was equivilant to present-day secular humanism (which is at odds with the Christian faith or any worldview that involves belief in the divine.) Yet, at the time of the Renaissance, humanism was a return to the arts and letters of the past. Humanists sought cultural renewel by returning to the thoughts and forms of antiquity. As Alister McGrath explains in his book Christianity's Dangerous Idea,
Its basic method can be summed up in the Latin slogan ad fontes, which can be paraphrased as "back to the sources!" A stream is at its purest at its source (30).
For humanists, primary texts were of vital importance. McGrath continues:
Most humanists of the era--such as the great Erasmus of Rotterdam--were Christians who were concerned for the renewal and reform of the church. So why not apply the same method of regeneration to Christianity? Why not return ad fontes, to the original sources of faith, and allow them to reinvigorate a burned-out and run-down church? Could the vitality and simplicity of the apostolic age be recaptured?....But how was this to be done? What was the religious analogue of the culture of the classical world? What was the fountainhead of Christianity? Christian humanists had little doubt: the Bible, especially the New Testament. This was the ultimate source of faith (31).
Church history is messy. And the more we delve into study of the history of the church, the more we will see the ways in God has worked through innumberable people, events, and movements.

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