The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to ("protested") the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Reformation laid down once and for all the right and obligation of the individual conscience, and the right to follow the dictates of that individual conscience. Many men who talk lightly and glibly about “liberty” neither know nor realize that they owe their liberty to this event.
In the realm of science, it is generally granted by modern historians that there never would have been modern science were it not for the Reformation. All scientific investigation and endeavor prior to that had been controlled by the church. Only through sheer ignorance of history do many modern scientists believe that Protestantism, the true evangelical faith, opposes true science.
The Reformation has profoundly affected the modern view of politics and law. Prior to the Reformation the Church governed politics; she controlled emperors and kings and governed the law of lands.
King Henry VIII was initially opposed to the ideas of Luther. he was praised by the pope for a pamphlet that he wrote in 1521 that criticised the German monk. However after the Split with Rome many of the things that Luther said should happen, did happen in England. Henry VIII ordered Bibles to be published in English and took much money and land from the church. However Henry did this for political gains, not because he supported the ideas of Luther. However because of his actions Henry VIII laid the foundations of Protestantism in England which under the rule of Edward and Elizabeth would transform England from a Catholic to a Protestant nation. By 1603 the Protestant Reformation in this country was complete.
The Reformation was dominated by the figure of MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546). Luther was the son of Hans Luther, a copper miner from the district of Saxony. Hans was a self-made man. As a youth he worked menial jobs in copper mines -- but by the time Martin was born at Eisleben, he had risen to prominence and owned several mines. Hans Luther wanted his son to do even m
The common people, meanwhile, sought a more personal, spiritual and immediate kind of religion -- something that would touch them directly, in the heart. The rituals of the Church now meant very little to them -- they needed some kind of guarantee that they were doing the right thing ?that they would indeed be saved. The Church gave little thought to reforming itself. People yearned for something more while the Church seemed to promise less. What seemed to be needed was a general reform of Christianity itself. Only such a major transformation would effect the changes reflected in the spiritual desires of the people.
The deepest source of conflict was personal and spiritual. The Church had grown more formal in its organization, which is hardly unsurprising since it was now sixteen centuries old. The Church had its own elaborate canon law as well as a dogmatic theology. All of this had been created at the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215. That Council also established the importance of the sacraments as well as the role of the priest in administering the sacraments. 1215 also marks the year that the Church further elaborated its position on Purgatory (see Purgatory: Fact or Fantasy). Above all, the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 established the important doctrine that salvation could only be won through good works -- fasting, chastity, abstinence and asceticism.
In general, dissatisfaction with the Church could be found at all levels of European society. First, it can be said that many devout Christians were finding the Church's growing emphasis on rituals unhelpful in their quest for personal salvation. Indeed, what we are witnessing is the shift from salvation of whole groups of people, to something more personal and individual. The sacraments had become forms of ritualized behavior that no longer "spoke" to the people of Europe. They had become devoid of meaning. And since more people were congregating in towns and cities, they could observe for themselves and more important, discuss their concerns with others. Second, the papacy had lost much of its spiritual influence over its people because of the increasing tendency toward secularization. In other words, popes and bishops were acting more like kings and princes than they were the spiritual guides of European men and women.
Luther argued that the Bible, not the pope, was the central means to discern God’s word — a view that was certain to raise eyebrows in Rome. Further, Luther maintained that justification (salvation) was granted by faith alone; good works and the sacraments were not necessary in order to be saved.
Luther had been especially appalled by a common church practice of the day, the selling of indulgences. These papal documents were sold to penitents and promised them the remission of their sins.
In 1517, in one of the signal events of western history, Martin Luther, a German Augustinian monk, posted 95 theses on the church door in the university town of Wittenberg. That act was common academic practice of the day and served as an invitation to debate. Luther’s propositions challenged some portions of Roman Catholic doctrine and a number of specific practices.
The Protestant Reformation was a major 16th century European movement aimed initially at reforming the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Its religious aspects were supplemented by ambitious political rulers who wanted to extend their power and control at the expense of the Church. The Reformation ended the unity imposed by medieval Christianity and, in the eyes of many historians, signaled the beginning of the modern era.