Starting in 1500, the secularization of the church increased dramatically. Larger donations and tax receipts let popes fund ambitious construction projects in Rome which showcased the artistic Renaissance then under way. The person who oversaw all of this Renaissance building was Pope Leo X, a member of the wealthy Medici family of Florence. Since the cost for building was so expensive, one technique that he used to raise funds for the basilica was to authorize an indulgence – a forgiveness of the punishment due for past sins. Although Leo and the Roman Catholic Church thought that these indulgences were good ideas, a monk named Martin Luther disagreed. He wrote Pope Leo and told him to stop the indulgences because they were wrong. The Pope and Luther argued back and forth for four years until it got so out of hand that Charles V considered Luther an outlaw, thus starting the Protestant Reformation. Luther insisted that the only way to salvation was through faith in Jesus Christ, not the “money-making business” the church was becoming. His followers became Lutherans. Another reformer named John Calvin also believed the church was becoming too secularized, but he had different beliefs than Luther. First, while agreeing with Luther’s emphasis on faith over works, Calvin denied that even human faith could grant salvation. Salvation was a gift God gave to those He “predestined”. Second, Calvin went farther that Luther in limiting the power of a clerical hierarchy and in simplifying religious rituals. Other sects of religion came about as well such as Jesuits, people... [continues]
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