Chaucer’s and Luther’s Critiques on Roman Catholic Church

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Updated: Mar 16, 2021
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Chaucer’s and Luther’s Critiques on Roman Catholic Church essay

The Catholic church influenced society with their beliefs and practices. However, as years went on criticisms rose with the way how the churchmen behaved. Chaucer makes a fierce critique with the corruption of the church, proving the pride, greed, and fraud from the churchem to the Christian practices. As Luther structured his critiques to the church with spiritual power over temporal, authority to interpret scriptures, and the authority to call a council also known as the three walls. The Pardoner’s Prologue takes on a different system, while still being a major critique to the church official. The Pardoner is a character that is being criticize, none that are which characterize in his story. In the prologue, he explains to his people during their crusade on why and how he takes the money from the people. “But let me briefly make my purpose plain; I preach for nothing but for greed of gain And use the same old text, as bold as brass,Radix malorum est cupiditas. And thus I preach against the very vice I make my living out of—avarice (Chaucer, pg 261, The Pardoner’s Prologue). Pardoner reveals his secrets of trades while being drunk. He works with the people with passion, then takes all their money for in return they get pardon from all their sins and fake relics. The Pardoner, becomes selfish and proud of his tricks that he plays on the people.

The power he has have taken over him, showing he can do anything he want without getting caught. Pardoner has a high power position from his church making him think he is more superior than a ordinary person. He doesn’t believe in punishments he may recieve. As tho to Chaucer, the major possibility that is worse from a corrupt church is that the church do not even pretend of what he as done and is going to do is corrupt. This Tale is based on three rioters who are drunk and are bragging how they do not fear death and will find and kill him. “ Well, sirs,’he said, ‘if it be your design fo find out Death, turn up this crooked way towards that grove, I left him there today under a tree, and there you’ll find him waiting. He isn’t one to hide for all your prating (Chaucer, pg. 270, The Pardoner’s Tale). So they go out and hunt death to wherever he can be found but instead they found an elderly man.

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All they of three of them accuse the poor, elderly man of being Death’s spy. The man tells them that Death could be found at top of the next hill. There will be a pile of gold when they reach their destination. “At once the three young rioters began to run, and reached the tree, and there they found a pile of golden florins on the ground” (Chaucer, pg. 271, The Pardoner’s Tale). One of the rioters runs down to town to get drinks and food as for the other two will be left behind with the gold. The two that were left behind decide with each other to kill the boy when he comes back. As for the third boy in town, he had poisoned the drink he is bringing back. He returns back to the top, and they kill him. They both take a drink from the wine and die. Turns out that death still finds a way to win the battle. The Pardoner’s Tale is addressing about how greed gradually plants fear into his listeners of how death will come for everyone if not being forgiven from all their sins. The Pardoner finishes with his sermon and then asks his listeners for money and in return they will be forgiven from their sins.

The Pardoner’s Tale is a perfect example of how greedy is the basic root of evil. It’s completely a true agreement from the behaviours is being demonstrated throughout the tale. The conflict has been a rise of having diverse critical opinion that was possibly a purposeful scheme to Chaucer’s part which becomes a result to the Pardoner being stubborn to withstand critical agreements. Luther structures his critique to the appeal of Christian nobility. Luther faced a situation that was a common opinion as to reforming the church was more beyond the rules given for everyone. It didn’t matter how Christian or honorable someone may have been. The ones that had the right to intrude with the church practices and their affairs were the ones who have been appointed as a minimum or priest. There were a lot of local places that ordered those kind of practices, and if someone is in a disagreement with a clerical and civil foundation. The dispute would be placed in a church court, and the outcome of defeating the agreement with church is very little. Luther explains his critique with the Roman Church into three walls. The first wall, Luther critiques the division of temporal state and the spirituality. He is clearly stated that there’s no difference between these states. He later develop a theory by using the Book of Revelation and Saint Peter explaining how being baptized declares us as a priests. Luther uses that theory to reduce the church’s power and prove that the priests are no more than office-holders. Luther gives out a statement that if a king has ten sons, one had to be chosen to rule over after their father, they will stay as kings with the same equal power even though they are ordered to govern.

Through this statement Luther believes the religious office should be held by elected officials proving that if something becomes common to everyone, nobody can not take it upon themselves a command from the community. With the way the first wall is being criticize, Luther is taking the church’s authority by explaining how everyone is a priest with the rights to govern the temporal sphere. In the second wall, Luther points out the Pope’s authority to confirm and interpret scriptures. There was no proof that showed the Pope’s authority to have all the power for himself. Luther gives the people a chance to have a standard base on their faith while not following on a certain interpretation. Which will take more of the church’s authority to control the sphere.

The criticism Luther is given out is not like the first wall. He is showing reformation, breaking away the Catholic Church traditional rule. Luther reformation is setting a standard to the scriptures and not tot the church teaching. Which gave them a look for laws that was concerning for their faith. The third wall, is Luther’s biggest criticism. It’s his desire to find control over the authority from a spiritual sphere into a temporal sphere. The Catholic Church protects itself by only having the Pope to call the council for a discussion of spiritual affairs. Which gives the reason why Luther is stating everyone has the authority to call a council if a problem is being issued spiritually. Luther represents temporal authorities as the best way to be called a council as a fellow-priests and fellow-Christians. Having in common to share one power and spirit together and in all things, but moving to temporal authorities in faith caused problems when it came to the reformation. A conflict emerge as to what was acceptable to make the government stop the reformation to be established. Many believed that violence will generate even more violence, as they say “those that lived by the sword would die by the sword” (Gov. Right to Wield the Sword in Matters of Faith, James M. Estes).

The others would presume the secular region had the power to stop new faiths being created that would harm the people’s faith, using the Old Testament as a statement for using old tradition. Luther criticisms on these three walls helped break spiritual control into a separate sphere, making it easier for Luther to change the power into temporal authority. The letter destroyed the fence of the temporal sphere and spiritual giving a huge influence for the people. Giving them the right to have control on themselves on faith, and pull away from any distracted authority from the church and the pope. When Luther stated how everyone can become their own priest sent out a questionable but shocking information, which allowed Luther to push his faith towards the scripture. It gave the people to also push on their faith and allowed them to have an interpretation on the scriptures for themselves. These changes was the beginning for the reformation to shift power to temporal authorities, with questions of how much power the government should have. Chaucer and Luther influenced the public’s view on the Roman Catholic control. They criticize the Roman Catholic church for their unfit position, based on the corruptions being done to the people. The church corruption was a widespread grip that affected the lower class, and grant high class people to use this power for more economic gain. Chaucer and Luther introduced the church’s corruption to the general public, stating for a reformation to the church.

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Chaucer’s and Luther’s Critiques on Roman Catholic Church. (2021, Mar 16). Retrieved from