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Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation

By lewobmjaef Sep 22, 2014 968 Words
The Protestant Reformation was time a time of tremendous change for Europe and the Christian Church. The reformation is said to have begun in 1517 when Martin Luther challenged the authority of the pope (Perry 324). He did this by creating the ninety-five these, which was a series of arguments against papal authority and their corruptness. Various people had tried to reform the church previously, but the real protestant movement did not begin until the time of Martin Luther. Following the ideas of Luther, the Christian church split for good which had a great effect on all of Europe that is still seen to this day.

Many branches of the Protestant movement based their idea of humanists. The first known humanist was Francesco Petrarch, who lived from 1304-1374. He believed in the education of people through the literature and classics of the Ancient Greeks and the Romans. He admired Greek philosophy and Roman political ideas (McKay 378). Christian humanists later reformed his ideas in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The most famous of these was Erasmus. Erasmus believed that education should be centered on the Bible and the Greek and Roman classics (McKay 385). He wanted every person to be able to read the bible, just as the pope and clergy could. Erasmus helped to stimulate the protestant movement on the same level that Martin Luther did. By the sixteenth century, the printing press had been invented by Johann Gutenberg, which helped to spread the ideas of Erasmus, and the text of the Bible all over Europe (McKay 386). Erasmus also developed the idea that people could earn salvation through deeds of love, not necessarily by prayer and ceremony acts as the Catholic Church believed (Perry 326).

The ideas of Erasmus were very similar to the ideas of Martin Luther, although the two reformers did not get along (Perry 326). Martin Luther believed that people could earn salvation by just their faith to Jesus Christ as being the Lord and Savior. This was much different than what the Catholic Church believed. Catholics believed that they could earn salvation by repenting their sins, and by praying and following the ten commandments od Moses (Perry 330). Throughout history the Catholic Church also made public the sale of indulgences. An indulgence is a payment to the pope in Rome that buys salvation and a spot in heaven. Indulgences were used to fund church programs and were even used as a way to get Christian soldiers to participate in the crusades (Perry 329). Luther heavily opposed this idea and accused the catholic church of their corruption through the sale of indulgences. Luther had also been a firm believer that people had the right to read and interpret the Bible in their own way (Perry 330). In the Catholic Christian Church the Pope was the only person that could give the true interpretation of the Bible, and Luther and many others opposed this.

The Protestant Reformation greatly needed the help of both ordinary people and the political leaders of the time to succeed. In Germany, peasant, knights and people of the middle class were in rough economic and social shape. The people had been growing upset with the clergy and nobles of Germany, and backed the ideas of Martin Luther in great numbers. The peasants and knights of Germany revolted from 1523-1525 in the name of Luther and his protestant ideas (Perry 334). This would help the protestant party gain power throughout Germany.

Throughout the rest of Europe many countries and cities had to decide to stay catholic or join the protestant reformation. Germany, with the help of the peasant revolt adopted mostly Lutheran ideas (Perry 334). But another branch of Protestantism had formed in Germany calling themselves Anabaptists. The Protestants of Germany slaughtered many of the Anabaptists at first, but eventually gave the small sect of Protestantism more religious tolerance (Perry 348). The areas of the Scandinavian kingdoms also decided to adopt mostly Lutheran reforms (Perry 325). In France, protestant reformers rebelled against the Catholic Church. The French king by the name of Francis I put down the protestant revolt by having Protestants publicly burned at the stake in Paris (Perry 346). The church of England was reformed by Queen Elizabeth I with aspects of Catholic, Lutheran and Calvinist ideas (Perry 325). Calvinism was another form of Protestantism created by John Calvin. He believed that people were predetermined to go to heaven or hell when they were born. This sect took root in Switzerland and Scotland, and even imposed on the English church (Perry 340-341). Eastern Europe remained for the most part catholic, but at this point the Catholic Church had lost a hefty amount of their followers.

With the success of the protestant movement around Europe, the Catholic Church lost a lot of its previous power. They were eventually forced to reform their own church as well (Perry 343). The Protestant Reformation and the ideas of people like Martin Luther and Erasmus had completely changed the religious background in Europe. During the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Catholic Church lost much of its power and following to Protestantism. Since then many other branches of Protestantism have been created all over the world. Today we can see that the Christian people are still divided into many different sects of Christianity. The ideas of Martin Luther certainly revolutionized religion in modern society.

honors 140 final
Ideas of Marin Luther

McKay, John P., Bennet D. Hill, John Buckler, Clare H. Crowston, Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, and Joe Perry. A History Of Western Society. 10th ed. Vol. A. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2011. Print. Perry, Marvin, and George W. Bock. Sources of the Western Tradition. 9th ed. Vol. 1. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2014. Print In Class Discussion

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