ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Renaissance Humanism Effect on Christianity

Updated on January 20, 2018
RGraf profile image

Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience. She holds degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

In studying the Renaissance, it would appear that the period was moving on a more secular route than previous centuries. The Humanistic movement did lessen the hold that religion had over mankind by emphasizing individualism.

Yet, this period was also the birth of the Protestant Reformation. Religion became more important to people. Ironically, religion lost its hold while gaining fascinating new inroads.


Defining Humanism

Before we go any further, let's see what humanism really is. According to the Webster dictionary, humanism is "devotion to...literary culture...emphasis on secular concerns...devotion to human welfare...a doctrine, attitude, or way of life centered on human interests and values...usually rejects supernatural and stresses individual's dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason."

Look at it like it is a deeper look into what impacts mankind. It wasn't just pleasure and comfort. It wasn't living for oneself and ignoring any higher order. It was actually something much more spiritual. It was making spirituality real. Humanism, especially during the Renaissance period, was focused on getting the spiritual concerns focused back on humanity and improving the individual.


Return to Scriptures

Humanism brought many Christians back to the Scriptures; many were reading the Holy Bible for the first time, including many within the church structure. Typically, religious people looked to the priests to tell them what was in the sacred writings. The wave of humanism had them looking to the original words themselves. In truth, “humanism inevitably became involved with religion.” (1)

It was humanism that brought about the Protestant Reformation. Digging deeper into religion and religious life opened the eyes to many who began to see the curtains fall aside, revealing the dirtier side of the Catholic Church. “The church was coming to resemble a business” that was full of scandal and deceit. (2) What was once thought to be religious was more secular that most of the world outside the Church.


The Stray From Scriptures

The push of the Protestant Reformation came from Martin Luther's observation of tradition over scripture. Within the Catholic Church, tradition held a lot of weight in the daily lives of the religious. Over time, tradition became equal to scripture. There was no argument against the practices that had been in use for hundreds of years even if they were not straight from scripture.

Practices such as purchase and possession of relics and purchases of indulgences were not found in the holy scriptures. The more Reformers read the scriptures, the more they found practices that appeared to be more for the benefit of Rome, particularly the coffers.

Humanism brought the religious back to the foundation of the Christian religion. It cleared away what many saw as weighted extras that were not needed and what prevented the religion from adhereing to its roots of caring for mankind

A Merging of Secular and Religious

The Renaissance period did not really become more secular, it just brought the secular and the religious worlds to center stage and overlapped them. Religion had been more secular and became more religious during this period. The secular world officially entered areas that on the surface were not.

Though “man was now the creator of his own destiny,” this did not mean that the Renaissance was necessarily more secular. (3) It just meant that man was not controlled by the Church; “man had the power so to shape his own development that he could become either bestialized or spiritualized.” (4) Man could decide to be religious and study the Scriptures as much as he desired.

Lasting Impact

The humanism movement of the Renaissance can be felt today. Because of this movement, the Catholic church split and formed many Protestant denominations of the Christian religion.

Classical works were preserved so that could access them today. Great pieces of art were based on the classics and are still seen today in museums. This movement also helped create the classical educations we have today and inspires many educational systems where logic and rhetoric are emphasized. Without the humanism impact on the Renaissance, there is no telling as to where we might be today.


(1) J.R. Hale, Renaissance Europe 1480-1520, (Malden: Blackwell, 2000), 231.

(2) Ibid, 169.

(3) Stephen Kreis, “Lecture 3: The Protestant Reformation,” The History Guide: Lectures on Early Modern European History, (accessed 2/16/2011)

(4) Hale, 219.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)