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By Cornelius J. Dyck

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Humanism was inspired by a new spirit of freedom and inquiry. The humanists north of the Alps generally had a stronger religious concern than those in Italy, giving themselves more to biblical studies than to classical sources. As Christian humanists they were also concerned with the problems of the church, though they did not usually participate in action programs of reform. Their tools were a pen, a critical intellect, satire, humor, and thorough scholarship. Humanist circles could be found in most of the major universities and cities; they were respected, hated, feared, and loved.

But by 1524 he called him a babbler and a skeptic and felt he was undercutting the Reformation. Erasmus and Luther had many things in common. Both deplored the corruption of the clergy and the papacy; both emphasized the central place Scripture should have in the life of the church; both taught the importance of Christ for the believer. Nevertheless, the two men were very different. Erasmus was scholarly and polite; Luther could be vulgar and dogmatic. Luther came to be Page 29 a reformer because of his personal search for faith.

They believed that all Christians, whether men or women, were called to witness to their faith by living it and preaching it. "2 Numerous attempts to link the Anabaptists historically with the Waldensians have failed, but through them the spiritual soil was being prepared for the events of the sixteenth century. John Wyclif (d. " Wyclif, a professor at Oxford University, became a reformer only in the last decade of his life. He had long believed that the church should be poor as were the apostles and that Christ had given it authority over spiritual matters only.

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