Protestant Reformation Essay

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Have you aver questioned authority or superior forces than yourself? Martin Luther and John Calvin, two famous theologians deeply questioned their times authority, the Catholic Church. These two had created a new way of thinking and voicing it out, especially when it comes to religion. Questioning the Catholic Church and the works that came with that made both of them landmark points in the world’s history but the question relies on why they attacked the fundamental principles of the church. The strong opposition to selling indulgences and that anyone could make its way to heaven if they had the right amount of money was what ignited the reformation, including Martin Luther 95 theses against indulgences. Later on came John Calvin’s work against the Catholic Church including the Geneva reform and his idea of predestination, the idea that God is willing all of the events that can happen in one’s life. Both of these theologians had intentions of creating a truer version of the Christian religion and created their own form and version of Catholicism, Calvinism and Lutheranism. Some viewed these new branches/forms of Christianity as a new way of interpreting the religion and some; according to Prentice Hall world history thought it would be a chance to “throw off the rule of both the Church and the Holy Roman Empire.” (Ellis and Esler 64) In a whole, both of their works were a way to challenge and attack the Church and to voice out their ideas, which differed from those of the religious authorities.

In this time period, late 15th through the end of the 16th century, the Catholic Church was the predominant authority and religion in most of Europe, it had a set of rules, in theory based on the bible, that everyone had to follow. However, these so called laws from the bible were modified and made to arrange the leaders, especially rich individuals. One of the main laws was flagrantly unequal and people understood that but couldn’t voice it out fearing the superior powers in rule. This law, of course was in the advantage of the most fortunate and the richest. This was the law selling indulgence and paying off your sins, meaning that if you had the right amount of money one could pay its way to heaven. As said earlier, several people believed it wasn’t correct and equal; however the problem they faced in those times was that a wide range of people did not know how to read and had no evidence or proof that what the Catholic Church said was different from what was written in the bible. When well-educated theologians such Martin Luther heard about such law, he found it unacceptable, to demonstrate it, he wrote a set of points against selling indulgences and how indulgences should be. This directly “challenged the teachings of the Catholic Church on the nature of penance, the authority of the pope and the usefulness of indulgences.” (Theopedia, Encyclopedia of Christianity) Luther posted these points on the Church’s door and it grabbed people attention, nevertheless a wide range of people believed that these points were true. This was the spark of Lutheranism, a new branch of Christianity based on the Martin Luther’s ideas and works. Few years later came John Calvin, a theologian and reformer. Calvin attacked at his turn the Catholic Church. He, very similarly to Luther, believed that selling indulgences wasn’t correct and more importantly he embraced the concept of predestination, the belief that God is wanting and knows everything that might happen in one’s life. He also created a theocracy; a government that was ran by church headmen. Based on his ideas and concepts he created, at his turn, a new branch of Christianity. This was another challenge forwarded to Catholic Church.

On the other hand, the Catholic Church did not change any of its laws through out the reformation period. Catholicism compared in numerous ways with both Calvinism and Lutheranism on many subjects. In Catholicism, the bible is one source of truth and...
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