Social and Political Effects of the Protestant Reformation

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Martin Luther, a monk from Wittenberg, Germany criticized many of the attributes of the Catholic Church and compiled a list of reasons why he believed Catholicism was entirely flawed. This document was called the 95 Theses and lead to a movement called the Protestant Reformation which ended the unity imposed by medieval Christianity and signaled the beginning of a modern era. Luther’s propositions challenged some portions of Roman Catholic doctrine and a number of specific practices. He argued that the bible not the pope, was the central means to discern God’s word — a view that was certain to raise eyebrows in Rome since the pope was a very worldly figure and accommodated power in the Catholic church. He saw the bible as the most important factor to spirituality and thought that the Christian followers should abide by it as opposed to the orders of the pope. The system of the Catholic Church was constructed imperially giving some people more authority over others according to how financially stable they were. For instance, a Christian would take part in indulgences by paying for their sins to be forgiven granting them a position in heaven during their afterlife. This was seen as injustice towards the true meaning of salvation and was in no means a real way of having faith in God. The Catholic Church economically controlled a majority of Europe in the 16th Century as it heavily taxed 1/3 of its land. Luther saw Catholicism as a way of manipulating the lives of people and essentially drawing them away from God. Once these problems were listed and documented, he presented the 95 theses at the University of Wittenberg in Latin so that only the priests could read them and then eventually printed them in Vernacular so that everyone else could read them. This stirred awe all over Germany a movement began to grow crystallizing a new basis for Christianity. In 1520, the Catholics recoiled in response to the growth of Luther’s followers and a...
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