Factors Leading to Protestant Reformation

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Three Causes of the Protestant Reformation

The sixteenth century was a time when the acts and teachings of all religions came under a great amount of scrutiny. As a result, there was a great division from the dominant Roman Catholic Church; this was known as the Protestant Reformation. There were many factors in the coming of the Reformation, but the three worthy of note are the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church, the leadership of Martin Luther, and the invention of the printing press.

The Roman Catholic Church was a strong force in sixteenth century Europe and as such became overly voracious in its desire for both political and economical power. Under Pope Leo X the church began the sale of indulgences in Mainz, Germany. According to Ostling an indulgence is a pardon granted by the church from "temporal punishment due in purgatory for sins committed" (1). Indulgences presented a way to buy your way into heaven, despite the grace-based biblical model for salvation. Along with indulgences was the issue of papal supremacy, meaning that the Catholic Church claimed that the authority of the Pope was over that of the secular rulers and that the Pope was the final authority on the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. The word of the Pope was to be taken as the word of God himself. To many believers these practices and beliefs were without fault, but to others such as Martin Luther they were inexcusable and unfounded.

Born in 1483 in Saxony, Eisleben Luther originally studied law before turning to the religious field. In 1505 he joined the monastery of the Augustinian friars at Efurt and was ordained as a priest in 1507. Luther went on to study at the University of Wittenberg where he would later become a professor. L...

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...ion in our country as we know it is greatly due to this rise of people who could no longer stand by while the church bargained with them for an imaginary passage to heaven. The Catholic Church has since reformed and condemned the selling of indulgences and has even attempted to repair its rivalry with the Lutheran Church, evidence that the effects of the Reformation are long reaching and continue to be revealed even today.

Works Cited

George, Timothy. "Battle for the Past." Christian History Vol.20. Nov. 1, 2001: pg 37.

"Gutenburg's Millenium." Reading Today Vol.18. Dec. 1, 2000: pg 41.

Hundersmarck, Lawrence F. "Martin Luther." Great Thinkers of the Western World Jan. 1, 1992: pg 150.

Klauber, Martin I. "Reformation on the Run." Christian History Vol.20. Aug. 1, 2001: pg 21.

Ostling, Richard N. "Luther." Time Vol.122. Oct. 31, 1983: pg 100.
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