Machiavelli's Ideals Of Protestantism

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Ideas do not spring out of nothingness. While historians hold that the Protestant Reformation started in 1517 with Martin Luther’s The Ninety-Five Theses, the ideals of Protestantism can be seen in even secular affairs both before and after the publication of Luther’s works. At the same time, religion was heavily intertwined with every aspect of Christian society, and thus developments were oftentimes compatible with Catholic ideals as well. Catholicism emphasized the importance of hierarchy and tradition, as well as the glorification of God through ceremonies and traditions such as the sacraments. Protestantism, on the other hand, was about shedding the opulence and luxurious embellishments Catholicism brought to Christianity. Instead of …show more content…
He died before Luther even began drafting his theses, but many of his ideas were more compatible with Protestantism. Certainly he seems to spurn the idea that kings have a divine right to rule. Leaders could be “executor[s] of the will of God,” but “deeds and conduct” are equally as important if not moreso. In addition a ruler could seem to have divine right and “be ordained by God” but it would not matter if he had ill-luck, for then he would surely fail as a leader. Thus, Marchiavelli’s ideas are more Protestant-like in their rejection of God-given rights to rule, a concept oftentimes endorsed by the papacy. Yet at the same time there is a rejection of Protestant-like ideas, more specifically the Calvinist-held idea of predestination. Calvinists held that man’s fate was predetermined, and it was already decided whether or not one would go to Heaven after death, regardless of actions during life. Yet those that were to be saved were encouraged to do good acts during their time on earth as a sign of their holiness. Machiavelli would have rejected this notion, as showing holiness should not be the goal of a leader’s good deeds-- the true goal is to sway the masses in favor of the ruler, thus allowing him to stay in power. One does not necessarily have to do good deeds and qualities, only to “appear to have them.” Granted, in the same passage Machiavelli maintains that sometimes it is necessary to act “contrary” to concepts such as religion, but even so, the point made is even more contrary to Protestant ideas like Calvinist predestination than it is to Catholicism. But while some individual points seem more Catholic-leaning than Protestant, the work as a whole and its overall message are more Protestant in its rejection of God-given rights to rule, an idea more resonant with the Roman Catholic

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