The Protestant Reformation of the Sixteenth Century
The Protestant Reformation ignited a religious reform movement that separated the western Christian church into Catholic and Protestant groups. Martin Luther embarked on a journey to start the religious reform movement; there were other developments before him that set a foundation for a religious alteration in the sixteenth century. The Protestant Reformation allowed for Protestantism to flourish throughout Europe, united the Roman Catholic Church with Christian denominations, enabled people to develop independent thinking and creative, fostered determination in people to attain religious and political freedom, and allowed for Christianity to evolve permanently throughout history. Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz helped produce the development of printing from a moving type. In Europe there were thousands of printers that published religious books like the Bible, sermons, Latin and Greek classics, legal handbooks, and works on philosophy. This type of development manifested an “immediate impact on European intellectual life and thought” (Duiker 429). This kind of invention fostered creative thinking and determination in people to study scholarly resources. Printing allowed the European civilization to disperse new religious ideals. This communication throughout Europe played a major role in enabling people to acquire newfound knowledge and formulate beliefs of their own. Many historians state that Desiderius Erasmus “laid the egg that Luther hatched” (History 1). Erasmus was an influential Christian humanist. Christian humanism or northern Renaissance humanism combined the ideas of the classical Italian Renaissance with the ideas of early Christianity. According to Christian humanism, a society must alter the human beings that compose it. They strongly believed that people are smart enough to formulate their own ideals and beliefs. They did no have to solely depend on an irrational religion for happiness and salvation. Erasmus was most influential in teaching that religion should be a philosophy for a direction of life, not a source of arbitrary practices and rituals, which is what medieval religion emphasized. Erasmus also placed an emphasis on teaching the philosophy of Jesus Christ. Erasmus did not approve of the abuse of power of inside the church. The opposition towards a dogmatic religion encouraged the Christian and northern Renaissance humanists to stand against the corruption of the Catholic Church; they gave mankind hope and encouragement to believe in themselves, and to fight for freedom of religion. Another factor that influenced people to start a reform was the corruption of the Catholic Church. The all-powerful Roman Catholic Church labeled any non-believer as a heretic; punishment included being burned at stake. The Catholic Church’s power was assembled over centuries, and depended on the lack of religious education and unawareness of people. People’s primary motivation of believing in the Catholic Church came from the belief of salvation to heaven though the Catholic Church. Any other belief was disregarded. The realization that many popes were not committing to the needs of the church and people outraged many people in Europe. Many popes’ interests were not focused on the spiritual uprising of religion, but worldly interests like power and wealth. The process of salvation was becoming a fraud. This ignited hate and bitterness towards the Catholic Church and stimulated the idea for change and reform. The Catholic Church strongly emphasized that good works and strong faith were the gateway for personal salvation. Martin Luther had a strong opposition to that idea, even as a monk and professor at the University of Wittenberg. Through personal study and dedication to religion he discovered that no weak and powerless human being could do enough good works to achieve salvation. He believed that through a powerful faith and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that...
Cited: Duiker, William J., and Jackson J. Spielvogel. World History. Minneapolis: West Pub., 1994. Print.
"People & Ideas: The Protestant Reformation." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
"The Reformation." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document