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Protestant Reformation Religious Sects

By magicpigge Oct 30, 2012 491 Words
The Protestant Reformation influenced radical religious differences between many Sects including Lutherans, who believed that the church and state should co-exist, but not work together as one, Calvinists, who competed for a church-dominated state, and Anabaptists, who believed in the wholly separation of church and state. The Lutherans, who believing in church and state existing together, followed the teachings of a monk named Martin Luther. In 1517, he posted his 95 Theses to the door of a church and declared his conviction that people could interpret scripture for themselves and no longer had to stand by the Catholic Church. Luther’s views on scripture interpretation, the infallibility of the Pope, and indulgences were essential at the time. This caught the attention of the German nobles and peasants who then used Lutheranism to escape Catholic influence, eventually leading to a rebellion against the Catholic Church. Although Luther had radical views on religion, he was a very conservative man and believed that no religious belief should aspire to forced political change. Luther thought that people owned complete loyalty to their government and that Protestantism should be more focused on personal faith in God rather than sacraments.

The beliefs of John Calvin were much different. He supported the concept of secular piety and used this to create a link between the church and state. In cities such as Geneva, the French Huguenots and Calvinists believed in complete control of the state by the church. Calvinism also believed in a God that is completely sovereign, predestining some to salvation, the rest to hell, some to be kings, and the rest to be subjects, but all equal in submitting the absolute Law of God. Since those who were pure were predestined for heaven, it was pertinent that they should spread holiness through a combination of church and state.

The third religious Sect were the Anabaptists, who were a radical “left-wing” Sect outlawed by Catholics and other Protestant groups. They believed in the complete separation of church and state and as a very accepting and tolerant group, thought that the government should have no say in an individual’s religion. The Anabaptists created their own doctrine and separated them from most of the Catholic religion. They simplified church services, focused less on the sacraments and fought against infant-baptism, believing that an individual should only be baptized when he or she is old enough to understand the importance of it. The Anabaptists influenced the Quakers, and established a theocracy in Munster, where John of Leiden authorized practices such as polygamy and burned all books except the Bible. He was believed to be a threat to the existing political and social order and was later executed.

These three sects of Protestantism all inspired vast religious changes in Europe during the Reformation. Lutherans promoted obedience to government, Calvinists advocated church and state as a unified body, and Anabaptists believed in complete separation of the church and state.

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