The Reformation had radically altered the religious role and social standing of the clergy. The Protestant Reformers insisted on a general priesthood of believers, though it was rarely realized, and they rejected the view that ordination was a sacrament. Despite the apparent reduction in status this implied, the Protestant clergies remained a privileged body through the symbolism of their ordination, their university education, and their links by marriage with the ever-emerging middle classes. Their domestic arrangements helped to define religious and social respectability within the community, as they performed their role as the godly head oftheir household. In Zurich they modelled appropriate behaviour and piety as a reflection of the authoritarian state, while Toby Barnard notes that the Anglican parsonages of eighteenth-century Ireland were to be 'miniature godly commonwealths'. The reformers' ideal for an educated parish ministry was eventually achieved, but the process was a long drawn-out and complex affair. As with cultural change more generally in early modern Europe, the influence of tradition and the constant interplay between ideals and reality were often more important than revolutionary changes.
Between 1660 and 1780, the confessional rancour of the previous century gradually subsided and the Enlightenment exerted a moderating influence upon European religious life. The churches of Europe began to consolidate their position within society and in Protestant countries the general understanding of the status and function of the clergy outlined above was widely understood. Yet it is clear that the Protestant clergies of Europe between 1660 and 1780 must be described in the plural. Economic, geographical, and cultural differences shaped the type of minister called to a particular parish or church and how he was likely to approach his pastoral role. Different types of church organization, or ecclesiology, also influenced how a clergyman related to his congregation and what he felt able or unable to do. The nature of the state and the power relationships therein determined the precise associationbetween the secular authorities and the clergy in matters such as appointment, promotion,
Was this article helpful?
Free Your Mind And Achieve Peace. Discover How To Live In Peace And Harmony In A World Full Of Uncertainty And Dramatically Improve Your Quality Of Life Today. Finally You Can Fully Equip Yourself With These “Must Have” Tools For Achieving Peace And Calmness And Live A Life Of Comfort That You Deserve.