One important reason for the Reformation was Personal. Martin Luther claimed that what distinguished him from previous reformers was that while they attacked corruption in the life of the church, he went to the theological root of the problem—the perversion of the church’s doctrine of redemption and grace. Luther, a pastor and professor at the University of Wittenberg, deplored the entanglement of God’s free gift of grace in a complex system of indulgences and good works. The idea that the Reformation introduced schism into an otherwise unified church is a laughable claim. The Protestant Reformation was a widespread theological revolt in Europe against the abuses and totalitarian control of the Roman Catholic Church. John Calvin was the most important figure in the second generation of the Reformation, and his interpretation of Christianity, known as Calvinism, deeply influenced many areas of Protestant thought. The Protestant Reformation was one of the most transformative events in church history. Gravity. at Cram.com. the early 16th century, a scholar named Erasmus objected to several issues in the Roman Catholic Church, which at the time was the entire Church. The harder Luther tried to be a righteous man, the more clear to him his sinfulness became, and all the confessions, pilgrimages, indulgences, and other rites and rituals he could perform were never enough. and find homework help for other History questions at eNotes Protestant Reformation Causes: The Protestant Reformation began in 1517 and challenged the Catholic Church's authority on a number of fronts. This necessarily also made the Reformation a response to doctrinal errors and unbiblical traditions that had developed over time into the Roman Catholic system of Medieval Europe. It needed to be a return to the word of God. The English Reformation was a series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. Calvin agreed with Luther’s teaching on justification by faith. The Reformation began in 1517 when a German monk called Martin Luther protested about the Catholic Church. There is some evidence of anticlericalism, but the church at large enjoyed loyalty as it had before. Still, it was obvious that what was calling itself the "one true church of Jesus Christ" was not exemplifying oneness, truthfulness, nor Jesus Christ. What is the difference between Protestantism and Catholicism? His followers became known as Protestants. Life in Europe was far from stable, which can create both an openness to new ideas and a yearning to return to old ones. Match. Opponents of the ancient Trinitarian dogma made their appearance as well. The nations were groaning for a reformation, but ironically, Martin Luther was not originally setting out to provide one. It was relatively easy to stamp out reform movements of the past. Spell. The Renaissance in literary scholarship presented a deeper challenge. The printing press fueled the fire, as printers distributed copies of the 95 theses widely, both in the original Latin and in a German translation.31 Just a little earlier in history, these theses would have been debated locally by a few scholars or completely ignored. )have been prevented? The Reformation led to the reformulation of certain basic tenets of Christian belief and resulted in the division of Western Christendom between Roman Catholicism and the new Protestant traditions. Rather than shrinking from the crisis, the Catholic Church responded with even deeper, and more genuine, reform, accomplished by many defenders of the Faith whom we now know as saints. Study of the Bible and other ancient writings showed that it was not enough to call people back to the traditions of the church because many of the so-called "traditions" were themselves late fabrications. The Catholic Reformation was the intellectual counter-force to Protestantism. Reformers within the medieval church such as St. Francis of Assisi, Valdes (founder of the Waldensians), Jan Hus, and John Wycliffe addressed aspects in the life of the church in the centuries before 1517. Answer. The desire for reform within the Catholic Church had started before the spread of Luther. For all this, the Protestant Movement was not started by a man who set out to change the world. This led to a split in the church, into Catholics and various Protestant churches. He was only initially trying to bring about change within the church, but the Catholic Church excommunicated him in 1521, spurring him to have the Bible translated into German. Known as Socinians, after the name of their founder, they established flourishing congregations, especially in Poland. This led Luther to post 95 theses on the church door to invite academic debate on the subject. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. What Happened Next? The churches and nations of Europe were divided between two and sometimes even three rival popes, each declaring that the followers of the others were excommunicated and under the anathema.11 On occasion they even called crusades on territories loyal to their rivals and financed their wars with the sale of indulgences (papal promises of forgiveness of sins and release from purgatory).12 Cardinals conspired to establish their own authority above the papacy through church councils, and the nation of Bohemia (modern Czech Republic) had broken away from all the Popes entirely and kept repelling the Crusades launched against them.13 Groups throughout Europe like the Fraticelli14 renounced the Pope and the formal church and in some cases set up their own rival hierarchy.15 Though often hunted by the Inquisition, they persisted into the 16th century.16 The Waldensians17 had lived as a distinct religious movement since the 12th century,18 and the Lollards19 were thriving in England apart from papal churches. 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