The Protestant Reformation ignited a religious reform movement that separated the western Christian church into Catholic and Protestant groups. Martin Luther embarked on a Journey to start the religious reform movement; there were other developments before him that set a foundation for a religious alteration in the sixteenth century.
The Protestant Reformation allowed for Protestantism to flourish throughout Europe, united the Roman Catholic Church with Christian denominations, enabled people to develop independent thinking and creative, fostered etermination in people to attain religious and political freedom, and allowed for Christianity to evolve permanently throughout history. Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz helped produce the development of printing from a moving type. In Europe there were thousands of printers that published religious books like the Bible, sermons, Latin and Greek classics, legal handbooks, and works on philosophy.
This type of development manifested an “immediate impact on European intellectual life and thought” (Duiker 429). This kind of invention fostered creative thinking and determination in people to study scholarly resources. Printing allowed the European civilization to disperse new religious ideals. This communication throughout Europe played a major role in enabling people to acquire newfound knowledge and formulate beliefs of their own. Many historians state that Desiderius Erasmus “laid the egg that Luther hatched” (History 1). Erasmus was an influential Christian humanist.
Christian humanism or northern Renaissance humanism combined the ideas of the classical Italian Renaissance with the ideas of early Christianity. According to Christian humanism, a society must alter the human beings that compose it. They strongly believed that people are smart enough to formulate their own ideals and beliefs. They did no have to solely depend on an irrational religion for happiness and salvation. Erasmus was most influential in teaching that religion should be a philosophy for a direction of life, not a source of arbitrary practices and rituals, which is what medieval religion emphasized.
Erasmus also placed an emphasis on teaching the philosophy of Jesus Christ. Erasmus did not approve of the abuse of power of inside the church. The opposition towards a dogmatic religion encouraged the Christian and northern Renaissance humanists to stand against the orruption of the Catholic Church; they gave mankind hope and encouragement to believe in themselves, and to fight for freedom of religion. Another factor that influenced people to start a reform was the corruption of the Catholic Church. The all-powerful Roman Catholic Church labeled any non-believer as a heretic; punishment included being burned at stake.
The Catholic Church’s power was assembled over centuries, and depended on the lack of religious education and unawareness of people. People’s primary motivation of believing in the Catholic Church came from the belief of salvation to heaven though the Catholic Church. Any other belief was disregarded. The realization that many popes were not committing to the needs of the church and people outraged many people in Europe. Many popes’ interests were not focused on the spiritual uprising of religion, but worldly interests like power and wealth The process ot salvation was becoming a traud.
This ignited hate and bitterness towards the Catholic Church and stimulated the idea for change and reform. The Catholic Church strongly emphasized that good works and strong faith were the gateway for personal salvation. Martin Luther had a strong opposition o that idea, even as a monk and professor at the University of Wittenberg. Through personal study and dedication to religion he discovered that no weak and powerless human being could do enough good works to achieve salvation. He believed that through a powerful faith and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that alone was enough for people to achieve salvation. Justification by Faith” (PBS 1) became the primary belief of the Protestant Reformation. Luther’s repulsion of Catholic Church teachings enabled him to create the Ninety-Five Theses, which opposed the sale of indulgences and revolted against clerical abuses. According to many historians this was the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The Ninety-Five Theses were quickly created and disseminated throughout Germany. Luther encouraged German royalty to overthrow the idea of salvation though the Catholic Church.
His idea of salvation through faith alone was widespread and becoming acceptable to many people. The Roman Catholic Church was outraged and did not accept his view of salvation. The Catholic Church believed that he was to be excommunicated from the church in 1512. When Luther was summoned to appear to the Holy Roman Empire and to “recant the heresies” (Duiker 431). He responded by rebuffing and making a statement that “became the battle cry of the Reformation” (Duiker 431). This angered the members of Reichstag, who ordered Luther to be detained.
Luckily for him, Fredrick of Saxony protected him. A revolution was manifested upon Luther’s religious ideals; this revolution changed the European Civilization forever. Luther’s popularity fostered from hatred and dissatisfaction with the greed of wealth power, corruption and dogmatic ideals of the Roman Catholic Church. The marriage between Luther and Katherina von Bora demolished the idea of clerical celibacy; his marriage ighlighted the life of a Protestant minister with a family. German rulers strongly supported Luther; they quickly acquired control and supervision of the German churches.
Luther emphasized that the churches focus on the preaching the Word of God and Bible study. In Luther’s eyes in was necessary to abolish Catholic Mass and gravitate towards new religious services. All of these changes highlight the metamorphosis that Christianity was experiencing. People who believed and promoted these new ideals were complacent with a new religious experience. In 1 519, Charles V ruled a vast empire, composed of Austrian lands, part of Italy, Spain, nd other territories. Though election he was granted the Holy Roman Empire title.
His idea was to “preserve the unity of his empire in the Catholic faith”(Duiker 432). By this time, Germany detached it self from the idea of imperial ruling; this disintegrated any loyalty to the Holy Roman Empire. In 1546, Lutheranism was the prominent belief and practice throughout Germany. Charles Vs effort to bring combat and war to disintegrate Lutheranism was a failure. This failure encouraged Charles V to create the Peace of Augsburg, which granted freedom to German states to choose between Catholicism and Lutheranism.
The expeditious spread of Lutheranism and Protestant beliefs reassured that Christian unity was no longer a possibility. Switzerland had a prominent role in the Protestant Reformation. The revolution sparked upon Ulrich Zwingli. Zwingli ignited religious changes in member states of the federal states of Switzerland and the city of Zurich. Evangelical reforms took over these areas. For example, Mass was replaced by services that promoted biblical study and prayer, relics were destroyed, and pope’s authority was no longer accepted.
His primary source of support came from the people of Zurich and the agistrate, known as Mark Reust. Zwingli created an alliance with the German rulers, and Martin Luther. In 1513, rage and dissatisfaction festered between Catholic states and the Swiss Protestants. This created a war that led to Zwingli’s death, his responsibility and loyalty to manifest change in Switzerland was handed down to John Calvin. John Calvin was a practical theologian who organized the Protestant reform. His conversion to Protestantism led him to escape his native France to Switzerland.
His beliefs coincided very closely with Luther’s beliefs. A unique belief that he promoted was the idea of predestination. Predestination was a belief that “God predestined some people to be saved, and the others to be damned, both who He would admit to salvation, and whom He would condemn to destruction” (PBS 1). Calvin also emphasized absolute sovereignty of God; he called it the “power, grace, and glory of God”(PBS 1). His reputation and credibility arose from his publication of the Institutes of the Christian Religion, an integration of Protestant beliefs and stands.
In 1536, he expanded his revolutionary Protestant reform to the city of Geneva. Calvin created The Consistory, a governing body that attested to moral virtue nd discipline, and enabled a systematic way of including clergy and laymen in church service. The success that was fostered upon Geneva, allowed for missionaries to travel throughout Europe and infiltrate all of Europe with Protestantism. The city of Geneva stood as a Protestant citadel that gave success to the religious reform. The Anabaptists were radical promoters of the Protestant faith, who also played a pivotal role in the reformation.
Their concern was to return to practice and religion of early Christianity, they emphasized equality in all believers. Separation of Church and State was something they strongly advocated. They did not see any benefit of the government dictating the Jurisdiction of religion. The Anabaptists opposed the idea of baptism in infants. Magisterial Protestants and Roman Catholics grew hostility and hatred towards the Anabaptists because of that belief. That is why they were heavily persecuted in the sixteenth century. The English Reformation played a pivotal part in the Protestant reformation.
King Henry the VII was seen as selfish glutton. Surprisingly his strong desire to divorce Catherine of Aragon, his first wife made the English Reformation a more political than religious cause. The pope refused to grant Henry VII’s request to divorce Catherine of Aragon for Anne Boleyn. His attention then focused on the archbishop of Canterbury, head of the highest court in England. The archbishop condoned a divorce and annulled King Henry VII’s first marriage. Soon after Anne became queen she had a child, whom was a girl.
This infuriated King Henry VII because he did not have a son to inherit his throne. This anger encouraged Henry VII to promote separation of the Church of England with Rome. This was known as the Act of Supremacy in 1534, it declared that the King was in complete control of the doctrine and Church of England. During Henry VII’s reign, Archbishop Cranmer attempted to reform the administrative and religious ruling. Shortly after this, Henry VII died and left his ruling to his underage son. Cranmer took advantage of this situation by directing the Church ot England in a Protestant direction.
T manifested new Protestant services and ideals in the Church of England. Mary a Catholic succeeded Edward VI. Her nickname “Bloody Mary’ was no understatement. Her primary concern was for the Church of England to return to Catholicism; she murdered more than 300 heretics who opposed Catholicism. Ironically, her actions ed for England to become more Protestant than ever before. By the mid-sixteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church no longer dominated Europe. Protestantism was infiltrating all of Europe and becoming more dominating and accepted.
Due to this nature, the Catholic Church underwent a reformation of its own known as the Catholic Reformation. The Catholic is divided in to three parts known as the Jesuits, a reformed papacy, and the Council of Trent. Ignatius of Loyola, Spanish noblemen, founded the Society of Jesus. This society accepted the directing of the pope and promoted the principals of obedience to the papacy, and hierarchical ruling of ociety and civilization. They fostered missionaries to explore Asian countries to convert people to Catholicism The reformed papacy was another aspect of the Catholic Reformation.
Pope Paul Ill took the initiative to create a reform to team to hold Catholic Church’s accountable and enforce discipline. Through this he was able to create the Council of Trent and gave recognition to the Society of Jesus. In 1545, church officials gathered in the city of Trent started the Council of Trent. This Council of Trent met continuously though three different sessions in the sixteenth century. Their ideas coalesced and they came to the conclusion that the “selling of indulgences was prohibited, both faith and good works were required for salvation, and only the church could interpret scripture” (Duiker 438).
This manifested one doctrine and religion under the Roman Catholic Church. The Protestant Reformation had significant impacts in the foundation of our world nations. This impact allowed for the re-establishment of political and religious views throughout the European civilization, challenged the authority of the Catholic popes, and led to modern concepts of democracy. This reformation is key to understanding how religion has laced an importance in the foundation and building of every nation in our world.
The fight for equality and freedom will always be an obstacle throughout history; understanding the struggle, rebellion, and motivation to fght that many people faced in reformation, allows for our world to become educated and motivated to strive towards a better world.
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