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. So, while many factors made it possible for the Protestant Reformation to take hold and flourish, in a very real sense, what caused the Protestant Reformation was simply the reading of the Bible, seeking peace with God by His grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ, sharing that truth with others, and then being willing to be logically consistent with that truth when confronted by unbiblical traditions. Luther had rejected the Catholic church’s doctrine of transubstantiation, according to which the bread and wine in Holy Communion became the actual body and blood of Christ. For all this, the Protestant Movement was not started by a man who set out to change the world. Other figures included Pope Leo X, who excommunicated Luther; the Holy Roman emperor Charles V, who essentially declared war on Protestantism; Henry VIII, king of England, who presided over the establishment of an independent Church of England; and Huldrych Zwingli, a Swiss reformer. Spell. One important reason for the Reformation was Personal. According to Luther’s notion, the body of Christ was physically present in the elements because Christ is present everywhere, while Zwingli claimed that entailed a spiritual presence of Christ and a declaration of faith by the recipients. The Renaissance in literary scholarship presented a deeper challenge. Study Flashcards On Why did The Reformation happen? The Reformation happened because there was … Flashcards. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. Another group of reformers, often though not altogether correctly referred to as “radical reformers,” insisted that baptism be performed not on infants but on adults who had professed their faith in Jesus. Such building and planting, such good living and dressing, such a stir in all the arts, has not been since Christ came into the world."10. The Reformation occurred during Renaissance times. People have devoted entire careers to this sort of thing! The Reformation began in the early 16th century. Centuries of massive death tolls from internal European wars, the crusades against the Muslim states, and the ravages of the black plague had not only taken their toll on the population, they had also shaped life in a wide variety of ways. What is the difference between Protestantism and Catholicism? Henry VIII, painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1540. The Protestant Reformation was a series of events that happened in the 16th century in the Christian Church. This alone was quickly leading to a wide variety of changes, from the goods people used to their grander view of the world and their place in it.1 In Europe, life was rapidly changing for large portions of the population in unprecedented ways. The socalled “material” cause was the debate over sola fide (“justification by faith alone”). Reformers and Reformations: Why Did the Reformation Happen? The Reformation was a huge change within the Church in the C16th. The church taught that humans could atone for their sins through confession and…. PLAY. This led some to leave for the growing cities, shifting life toward urbanization. Updates? The value of individual labor, the distribution of skills, and a host of other factors greatly shift when so many working-age men are dying suddenly in mass from wars and disease. As Luther embraced the biblical gospel of grace and studied the Scriptures, such things appeared inconsistent with the revealed word of God. Test. And high mortality had not come only through plagues and battles. Read next: What Was the Reformation and Why Did it Happen, Part 2: An Explosion of Ideas. The timing, however, was just right for the message Luther posted, even if Luther himself had not realized it. The discovery of the American continents, for example, occurred just over two decades earlier in 1492. 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. 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. In the 16th century Erasmus of Rotterdam, a great humanist scholar, was the chief proponent of liberal Catholic reform that attacked popular superstitions in the church and urged the imitation of Christ as the supreme moral teacher. The nations were groaning for a reformation, but ironically, Martin Luther was not originally setting out to provide one. Huldrych Zwingli built a Christian theocracy in Zürich in which church and state joined for the service of God. The Reformation became the basis for the founding of Protestantism, one of the three major branches of Christianity. The first was that the church in Western Europe, which was theoretically united under the authority of the pope in Rome, was in crisis. This haunted him. The Feudal Lords themselves were claiming ownership of the once public streams and forests on which the peasants depended for fish, game, foraged foods, and firewood.4  These necessities of life, which peasants had previously gathered for free, now belonged to their lords and came at a cost which many peasants could not pay. The Protestant Reformation began five hundred years ago, accompanied by an age of turmoil and secularism we can recognize even in our own time. Zwingli agreed with Luther in the centrality of the doctrine of justification by faith, but he espoused a different understanding of the Holy Communion. The … 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. For others, it led to unrest and increasingly frequent peasant revolts.5. Calvin agreed with Luther’s teaching on justification by faith. Called Anabaptists, they remained a marginal phenomenon in the 16th century but survived—despite fierce persecution—as Mennonites and Hutterites into the 21st century. Spain and Italy were to be the great centres of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, and Protestantism never gained a strong foothold there. The greatest leaders of the Reformation undoubtedly were Martin Luther and John Calvin. Jesus died the death we deserve to serve our sentence and take our punishment. Here lay the key to Luther’s concerns for the ethical and theological reform of the church: Scripture alone is authoritative (sola scriptura) and justification is by faith (sola fide), not by works. Caoimhe_OReilly. There is a myth that "Christianity" in Europe had always been a united body until Luther and Calvin broke it up. There is some evidence of anticlericalism, but the church at large enjoyed loyalty as it had before. It needed to be a return to the actual teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. The Reformation spread to other European countries over the course of the 16th century. The world of the late medieval Roman Catholic Church from which the 16th-century reformers emerged was a complex one. While he did not intend to break with the Catholic church, a confrontation with the papacy was not long in coming. The Reformation catalyzed the secularization of music and art. A: The Reformation happened for two main reasons. What political and social factors contributed to its success?' Match. Its greatest leaders undoubtedly were Martin Luther and John Calvin. Gravity. Many more examples could be given, but this should be enough to demonstrate that while the unity of all Christendom under the Pope was a theory in which many in Western Europe believed, it was far from a description of the late-Medieval reality. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/event/Reformation, History World - History of the Reformation, PBS LearningMedia - The Protestant Reformation | Inside the Court of Henry VIII, Reformation - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), Reformation - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). Read Free How The Reformation Happened Frequently the Reformation is described as a movement that revolved around two pivotal issues. For most people, the church continued to offer spiritual comfort. Asked by Wiki User. For further treatment of the Reformation, see Protestantism, history of. Learn. These figures reveal an ongoing concern for renewal within the church in the years before Luther is said to have posted his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church, Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517, the eve of All Saints’ Day—the traditional date for the beginning of the Reformation. In Geneva, Calvin was able to experiment with his ideal of a disciplined community of the elect. Opponents of the ancient Trinitarian dogma made their appearance as well. Known as Socinians, after the name of their founder, they established flourishing congregations, especially in Poland. 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. Answer. What Happened Next? In spite of its political implications, the reorganization of the church permitted the beginning of religious change in England, which included the preparation of a liturgy in English, the Book of Common Prayer. The Reformation began as an affirmation of something. How and why did the Reformation happen? The Reformation began in Germany in 1517 because an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther, who lived in Germany, wrote "95 Theses" protesting the Pope's selling indulgences. The Protestant Reformation was a widespread theological revolt in Europe against the abuses and totalitarian control of the Roman Catholic Church. Roman Catholic leadership was also plagued by corruption, manifesting itself in practices like:20. The sale of indulgences in church; woodcut from the title page of Luther's pamphlet. If you have any issues, please call the office at 385-246-1048 or email us at info@carm.org. The Reformation, a 16th-century religious and political challenge to papal authority promoted by Martin Luther, King Henry VIII and others, led to the Thirty Years War and the Counter-Reformation. Some of the Reformers themselves came to their positions because they had access to a Greek New Testament thanks to Erasmus and the printing press.27  Erasmus's text would later be a key resource for the reformers in producing their common-language translations of the Bible in various lands. Ken Hensley is a well-known Catholic teacher, speaker and author. 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. Finally, the recent invention of the printing press made it possible for ideas to spread and literacy to swell in a manner never before possible. The discovery of the American continents, for example, occurred just over two decades earlier in 1492. Still, it was obvious that what was calling itself the "one true church of Jesus Christ" was not exemplifying oneness, truthfulness, nor Jesus Christ. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The Reformation was a clash of two opposed schemes of salvation. The Reformation is a period of time between 1517 and 1648 AD in which a group of people, known as the “Reformers” rejected the authority of the Catholic church as the sole arbiter of doctrine and behavior believing that Scripture alone should be the foundation of the … The Protestant Reformation was a movement in the 16th century to reform the Catholic Church in Western Europe. This diminished the political power and influence of certain lords and monasteries while giving rise to a merchant class,2 on the one hand, and to stronger monarchies on the other,3 who were able to more completely consolidate their power unchecked by the weakening lords. Ken Hensley. 8 9 10. Thus, it is all of Him and nothing of us. There were many reasons why he made this change, some were personal, others were economic, political and religious. Eastern Europe offered a seedbed for even more radical varieties of Protestantism, because kings were weak, nobles strong, and cities few, and because religious pluralism had long existed. However, he found a more positive place for law within the Christian community than did Luther. 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. )have been prevented? Reformation, also called Protestant Reformation, the religious revolution that took place in the Western church in the 16th century. Why did it happen? The word Reformation means change, this was when Henry made himself head of the Church of England and not the Pope. Over time, Luther began to see biblical and theological problems with certain practices in the church, such as the veneration of relics and the sale of indulgences. Martin Luther Himself would write in 1522: "If you read all the annals of the past, you find no century such as this since the birth of Christ. 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. The Protestant Reformation was one of the most transformative events in church history. The movement began as an attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church. More People Reading the Bible During the Middle Ages, few people other than monks and priests knew how to read and write. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Death was also being dealt out by inquisitors in rapidly increasing numbers. Why did the Protestant reformation happen? One development is clear: the political authorities increasingly sought to curtail the public role of the church and thereby triggered tension. And while clerical celibacy was officially the rule, priests and bishops had numerous illegitimate children without shame.21 Most of Europe, even among devoted Roman Catholics, recognized that there was a need for reform.22 Many of them sought only a moral reform23 that would bring the Roman Catholic reality in line with a theoretical Roman Catholic ideal (with various ideas of what that ideal was). Henry VIII, incensed by Pope Clement VII’s refusal to grant him an annulment of his marriage, repudiated papal authority and in 1534 established the Anglican church with the king as the supreme head. He saw four major discrepancies between what the Church was teaching and what Scripture actually taught The moment that has come to symbolize the dawn of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, occurred in 1517. 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. There, while preparing for a series of lectures on the Book of Romans, the monk discovered the answer he was looking for right in the pages of Scripture: Justification before God was by grace alone through faith alone in the merits of Christ alone and in His finished sacrifice.28 While Luther probably did teach his biblical gospel insights from that point forward, this was not meant as a protest at the time. His followers became known as Protestants. Protestant Reformation Causes: The Protestant Reformation began in 1517 and challenged the Catholic Church's authority on a number of fronts. Terms in this set (11) What was the Reformation? But Luther, in his zealous pursuit of peace with God, was keenly aware that any immorality whatsoever in his thoughts, words, and deeds condemned him in the presence of a Holy God. This is a huge subject, I shall try to highlight some things that you can look for, but Quora is hardly the suitable place to fully answer such a question. People like Erasmus, Huldrych Zwingli, Martin Luther and John Calvin saw the corruption and tried to stop it. Luther knew he was sinful. It began as a simple but profound return to the truth that we are dreadfully sinful, God is perfectly holy, and thus our works can contribute nothing to our salvation. Because of corruption in the Catholic Church, some people saw that the way it worked needed to change. It was not that Luther had done anything especially immoral. Indeed, Luther does not appear to have fully realized the chasm between what he had found in the Scriptures and the formal teaching of Rome until some time later.29. Jesus lived a perfect life and offers us His own merit and righteousness. : Wright, Jonathan: Amazon.sg: Books and find homework help for other History questions at eNotes To understand their origins, we need to go back to the early 16th century when there was only one church in Western Europe under the leadership of the Pope in Rome. Calvin’s tradition merged eventually with Zwingli’s into the Reformed tradition, which was given theological expression by the (second) Helvetic Confession of 1561. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Created by. Huldrych Zwingli, detail of an oil portrait by Hans Asper, 1531; in the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland. It led to that, but it didn't start there. Having far-reaching political, economic, and social effects, the Reformation became the basis for the founding of Protestantism, one of the three major branches of Christianity. Church taxes were paid straight to Rome, and the Pope had the final word in the appointment of bishops. In Scotland, John Knox, who spent time in Geneva and was greatly influenced by John Calvin, led the establishment of Presbyterianism, which made possible the eventual union of Scotland with England. The desire for reform within the Catholic Church had started before the spread of Luther. STUDY. Many western Christians were troubled by what they saw as “false doctrines” and malpractices within the Catholic Church, particularly involving the teaching and sale of indulgences. It was relatively easy to stamp out reform movements of the past. The Reformation began in 1517 when a German monk called Martin Luther protested about the Catholic Church. This was a time when the whole world was changing. Life in Europe was far from stable, which can create both an openness to new ideas and a yearning to return to old ones. Whereas they denounced the sins of churchmen, he was disillusioned by the whole scholastic scheme of redemption. Medieval Catholic worship was centred on the Mass, the church's offering of the sacrifice of … Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Still, while the big picture is large and complex, the central factors are fairly clear: The Reformation began in the early 16th century. We come to God, not through pious effort and personal righteousness, but in helpless trust that Jesus is enough. Yet, it is interesting to note that the Reformation did not dawn in a time when mortality was at its peak, but rather while it was coming into decline. The Reformation became the basis for the founding of Protestantism, one of the three major branches of Christianity. (See Researcher’s Note.). 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. In 1521 Luther was excommunicated; what began as an internal reform movement had become a fracture in western Christendom. As new research began into ancient writings, a number of important documents that had long been used to uphold the supremacy of the Pope and other Medieval dogmas were exposed as frauds.24 Additionally, Greek manuscripts of the Bible made their way from the east to the Latin west, leading many scholars to note the flaws in the Vulgate and to study the Bible in general with a more critical eye, apart from the artificial lens of official Roman Catholic positions.25 Many began to realize that at least some of the doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic church were actually late developments found nowhere in the Bible or the early church fathers.26 When a scholar named Erasmus published an edition of the Greek New Testament (paired with a fresh Latin translation) based on the Greek Manuscripts, this provided a crucial resource for those asking these questions. The idea that the Reformation introduced schism into an otherwise unified church is a laughable claim. 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. Wiki User Answered . at Cram.com. The Protestant Reformation began as a return to God's Word as the final authority in the Christian faith and a proclamation that justification is by grace alone through faith alone. This alone was quickly leading to a wide variety of changes, from the goods people used to their grander view of the world and their plac… Oh my, what a huge question! Discipline in the church was also very lax. Where did they all begin? In England the Reformation’s roots were both political and religious. 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. Initially, the Protestant reformers maintained the hope that they could accomplish the reformation of the doctrine and life of the church from within, but this proved impossible because of the intransigence of the church, the polemic of the Protestant movements, or the political and…, …what differentiated him from previous reformers was that they attacked the life of the church while he confronted its doctrine. It needed to be a return to the word of God. Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk in Germany who believed in all the Roman Catholic traditions of his day but, keenly aware of his own sinfulness, could find no peace in them. This led Luther to post 95 theses on the church door to invite academic debate on the subject. Why did the Reformation happen? Portrait of John Calvin by Henriette Rath; in the collection of the Bibliothèque Publique et Universitaire, Geneva. 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