What Did the Reformation Lead to?

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Reformation made the basis for the founding of Protestantism which is one of the three main branches of Christianity. The Reformation led to the reformulation of certain basic principles of Christian belief and resulted in the division of Western Christendom between Roman Catholicism and new Protestant traditions. The spread of Protestantism in areas that had previously been Roman Catholic got far reaching political, social and economic effects.


Reformation, also known as Protestant Reformation, the religious revolution which took place in the Western church in the 16th century. Its leaders were Martin Luther and John Calvin. After having wide political, economic, and social effects, the Reformation became the basis for the founding of Protestantism, which is one of the three major branches of Christianity. By the way, where and when did the reformation start? The Reformation began when Martin Luther posted his Ninety five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517.

The Protestant Reformation was the 16th century religious, intellectual, political and cultural upheaval which splintered Catholic Europe, setting in place the structures and beliefs that would define the continent in the modern era. In Northern and Central Europe, the reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin and Henry VIII challenged papal authority and questioned the Catholic Church’s ability to assign Christian practice. They disputed for a religious and political redistribution of power into the hands of Bible and pamphlets reading pastors and princes. Eventually, the harassment sparked war, persecution, and the so-called Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church’s delayed but firm response to Protestants.


Usually, historians date the start of the Protestant Reformation with the publication of Martin Luther’s “95 Theses” in 1517. Its ending is able to be placed anywhere from the Peace of Augsburg of 1555, that allowed the coexistence of Catholicism and Lutheranism in Germany, to the Treaty of Westfalen 1648, that ended the War of Thirty years. The key ideas of the Reformation is a call to purify the church and the belief that the Bible, not tradition, must be the only source of spiritual authority. But, Martin Luther and other reformers were the first to skillfully use the power of the printing press to convey their ideas to a wide audience.


Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk. He also was a university lecturer in Wittenberg once he composed his 95 Theses that protested the pope’s sale of reprieves from penance, or indulgences. Even though Martin Luther had hoped to spur renewal from within the church, but in 1521 he was summoned before the Diet of Worms and excommunicated. Later sheltered by Friedrich, an elector of Saxony, Martin Luther translated the Bible into German and continued his output of vernacular pamphlets.

Once German peasants that are inspired in part by Luther’s empowering “priesthood of all believers,” revolted in 1524s, Martin Luther sided with Germany’s princes. In the end of Reformation, Lutheranism had become the state religion throughout most of Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltics.


According to the research, the Swiss Reformation started in 1519s with the sermons of Ulrich Zwingli, whose teachings largely paralleled Luther’s. In 1541, John Calvin who was a French Protestant that had spent the previous decade in exile writing his “Institutes of the Christian Religion,” was invited to the settlement in Geneva and put his Reformed doctrine that stressed God’s power and humanity’s predestined fate into practice. The result was a theocratic regime of enforced and austere morality. John Calvin’s Geneva became a hotbed for Protestant exiles, and eventually his doctrines spread quickly to France, Scotland, Transylvania and the Low Countries, where Dutch Calvinism became a religious and economic force for the next 400 years.


Apparently, in England, the Reformation started with Henry VIII’s quest for a male heir. After Pope Clement VII refused to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could remarry. In 1534, the English king declared that he alone must be the final authority in matters relating to the English church. Later, Henry dissolved England’s monasteries to confiscate their wealth and worked to place the Bible in the hands of the people. Beginning in 1536s, every parish was required to have a copy. After Henry’s death, England leaned toward Protestantism impregnated with Calvinism during Edward VI’s six years of rule and then experienced five years of reactionary Catholicism under Mary I. In 1559s Elizabeth I took the throne. During her 44 years of reign, she raised the Church of England as the “middle way” between Calvinism and Catholicism, with colloquial worship and a revised General Prayer Book.


The Catholic Church was very slow to respond systematically to the theological and publicity innovations of Luther and the other reformers. The Council of Trent who met off from 1545 to 1563 articulated the Church’s answer to the issues that triggered the Reformation and to the reformers themselves.

The Catholic Church of the Counter Reformation era grew more literate, more spiritual, and more educated. The new religious orders, especially the Jesuits, combined a strict spirituality with a globally minded intellectualism, while mystics including Teresa of Avila injected new passion into the older orders. The inquisitions, both in Spain and in Rome, were reorganized to fight the threat of Protestant heresy.


Along with the religious consequences of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, there were deep and lasting political changes. The new religious and political freedoms in Northern Europe were costly, with decades of rebellion, wars, and bloody persecution. The Thirty Years’ War alone may have cost Germany as much as 40 percent of its population. However, the positive impact of the Reformation is able to be seen in the intellectual and cultural developments it inspired on all sides of the schism. In the universities of Europe, the Lutheran church music, the baroque altar of Peter Paul Rubens and even Dutch Calvinist merchant capitalism.

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