Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation
How it works
The Protestant Reformation revolutionized the way that the church operated and taught its people. Martin Luther saw mamy problems with the Catholic Church such as selling indulgences. Martin Luther believed that indulgences could not rightfully sold. As a result, Martin Luther posted the Ninety-Five
Theses in Wittenberg, Germany, on the door of The Eve of All Saints Day Castle Church on October 31, 1517. As a result of this, Martin Luther participated in a debate with various officials of the Catholic Church in the The Eve of All Saints Day Castle Church.
Martin Luther started a revolution that would change the church’s history and the way it taught forever Martin Luther took a look at the Catholic Church around him and along with many other theologians and scholars, he saw many corrupt things about the church and its teachings. The Catholic Church became increasingly more involved in political powers, political manipulations, and built up a good amount of wealth. He began to question the church. As no coincidence, around this time when scholars started to question the church, translations to the Bible and the writings of the early church philosopher Augustine became more easily accessible.
In Augustine’s texts, he talked about how it was important to focus on and prioritize the teachings of the Bible rather than the teachings of Church officials. If there was ever a conflict between a teaching of the Bible and the teaching of Church officials, the Bible’s teachings were to always overrule those of Church officials’. His texts also stated that man could not receive salvation on their own and had to rely and depend on God for salvation. However, the Church’s practice of selling indulgences completely went against Augustine’s statement of salvation upon reliance of God and Martin Luther quickly noticed this. Indulgences were sold by the church and basically granted salvation to whoever bought them. Martin Luther believed this to be incredibly corrupt and unBiblical. Even though the selling of indulgences had been banned in Germany, it continued. Martin Luther saw this and believed that he needed to take action to fix the church’s corrupt ways. Luther had full intentions on bringing the church’s corruption to the public light. He wrote the “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences”, or more commonly known as “The 95 Theses”. The 95 Theses were a list of topics for debate that would be held. He nailed these theses to the door of The Eve of All Saints Day Castle on October 31, 1517.
In the Theses, he points out numerous and a diverse set of flaws of the Catholic Church such as their corruption, false teachings, etc. Theses #1-3 focus on the importance of God’s Word in the bible for the life of a Christian. Theses #4-14.focus on the excessive amount of power held by the Pope, the corruption of the clergy, and how only God can forgive sins. Theses #15-82 focus on the indulgences of the preachers and oppose the selling of letters of indulgences in Germany. Theses #83-93 focus on the repetitive use of the word “again” which is then followed by a statement in order to convey a message. The invention of the printing press also helped Luther to distribute copies of the theses to places all throughout Germany. The Thesis also eventually made its way to Rome. In 1518, the debate was held between Martin Luther and Cardinal Thomas Cajetan in front of the imperial assembly. The debate lasted for three days but no conclusion was met. The Pope took notice of Martin Luther’s’ theses and placed them under questioning. His theses were concluded to be heretical and “scandalous and offensive to pious ears”. The Pope gave Luther 120 days to recant; or take back his statements that were made in the theses.
Luther refused to recant and was excommunicated from the Catholic Church by Pope Leo on january 3, 1521. Later, on May 25, emperor Charles V ordered his theses to be burned. Out of fear, Luther fled to a town called Eisenach for a year, where he sought refuge and protection. While staying in Eisenach, he started to translate the New Testament into German. Martin eventually returned back to Wittenberg to discover that his writings had already sparked a reformation. Although Luther’s writings sparked the reformation, he was not very involved with the process towards the end of his life. Towards his death, Luther became more extreme in his beliefs. He declared the pope to be the Antichrist and believed that Jews should be excluded from the empire. Martin Luther died on February 18, 1546. As a result of Martin Luther’s movement, many Christians decided to break off from the Catholic church in order to form the Protestant Church. They were known as the Protestants because of their numerous protests. Rather than listening to the Protestants and considering their side of beliefs, the Catholic Church alienated these people. The Protestants protested many things such as more establishment in the Church’s policy, the sale of indulgences and the Church’s failure to print of religious texts in any language other than Latin. Despite their protests, the Catholic Church only say them as rebels and completely neglected and ignored their demands. German peasants who were inspired by Luther’s writings decided to revolt in 1524. Lutheranism eventually became the state religion throughout Germany, Scandinavia, and the Baltics.
After realizing how rapidly the reformation was spreading throughout Europe, the Catholic Church finally decided that changes had to be made. Those who remained in Catholic Church still demanded reform and change. In 1545, leaders of the Catholic Church met in the Northern Italian city of Trent to meet and discuss what would be done of the situation. After almost 20 years of aggressive debating, the Council of Trent decided to start a counter-reformation. Many new rules were passed that covered issues such as Church authority, the holding of multiple offices, the chastity of priests, and a monastic reform. The Catholic Church made more of an effort to be more spiritual, more literate, a more educated. Newer religious orders such as the Jesuits combined rigorous spirituality with a globally minded intellectualism. In today’s world, the division between the Protestant Church and the Catholic Church are still very evident and prevalent. There are many differences today between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church. Protestant Churches allowed the congregation much more freedom in determining church policy and rejected such Catholic beliefs such as purgatory. While the entire catholic church is under the authority and rulings of the Pope, Protestants are generally under the rulings of a group of elders or deacons within their own individual church. While Catholic Church heavily emphasizes tradition, the Protestant Church does not. Protestants believe in the idea that salvation is obtained by faith, grace, and Christ alone.
Catholics, on the other hand, believe that justification is a process which is dependent on the grace that you receive by participating in the Church. Catholics also pray through Saints and ask them to intervene for them while Protestants do not. Catholics also view Mary as the mother of the church while Protestants do not. Even centuries after the death of Martin Luther, the effects of his reformation still last to this day in how Protestant Churches and Catholic Churches operate. Martin Luther brought the many flaws and mistakes of the Catholic Church into the light and not only reformed Christianity, but also reformed the Catholic Church for the better. After Martin Luther, the Catholic Church made more of an effort to be more spiritual, transparent, and follow the teachings of the Bible. In conclusion, Martin Luther’s reforms changed the way that the church functioned and taught its people.