- Term Papers and Free Essays

Protestant Reformation

Essay by   •  March 16, 2011  •  2,983 Words (12 Pages)  •  1,453 Views

Essay Preview: Protestant Reformation

Report this essay
Page 1 of 12

1) Why was the Protestant Reformation significant?

The Protestant Reformation separated Europe and it affected the power of the church, monarchs, and individual states. Because the Reformation lowered the authority of the church, the monarchs and independent states took advantage and seized more power. Many people started asking about their place in society, for it was tied into politics and religion. Hence they demanded more of democracy. The base was laid for the future without taking notice of religion because church authority wasn't accepted by the majority of people. In the end, the Protestant Reformation lead to the division of the church and state, the Enlightment, revolutions, imperialism, and the contemporary world.

The concept of the Protestant Reformation was change within the church, or reformation. This was in order for it to have justified and be available to everyone no matter what their social status was. ( In 1500 CE the Roman Catholic Church was the single church that existed in Western Europe. The pope in Rome was the highest in church and he governed everything. The Protestant Reformation resulted with the separation in Western Christendom. Reformation was more involved with how the church and its ideas differed within people. (

The Protestant Reformation was a very significant and rare thing that occurred in the past of Western European Christianity near the sixteenth century. At first, it was an effort to alter the customary fabric of the western church. The fabric was not only the organization of the church but the encouraging concept of giving a way of salvation as well. Protestants aimed to modify things by utilizing the Bible as the first source for doctrine and the Christian church as an example. In the course of development, Protestants abandoned the power of the papal and most of the conventional thoughts and rituals of the recognized church.

The Protestant meaning started to separate families, cities, and states after a generation of its presence. Within a generation of its appearance, the protestant message had begun to divide families, cities and states. Persuasive protestant preachers and theologians, aided by the enormous diffusive power of the new printing press, could compel attention, create controversy and capture converts. The protestant reformation also generated resistance and hostility, not least from the institutions of the traditional church and its defenders. In the ensuing sectarian conflicts of the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Protestantism developed further its distinctive theology and patterns and thought, behavior and consciousness. So the protestant reformation was a highly complex and not particularly coherent movement. But its shadow is difficult to avoid at any moment from 1520 onwards in European history. (

2) How did it change the world?

We have a notion of change leading to a world very different from the one in which we currently live. We can perceive change as possible, even necessary, in order to achieve variously humanly conceived social goals. The sense of change in the sixteenth century was to 're-form' something, to remove the inevitable corruption of the centuries and recover something which had been gloriously fresh and pristine when it had been conceived by God.

Our modern sense of the 'reformation' as a historical concept only gradually took shape in the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, developing alongside the protestant reformation's own sense of its past. Inevitably this happened along confessional lines. In France, the Netherlands and elsewhere, the term 'Reformed' came to be applied to the Calvinists whose churches (to their critics) were 'pretended reformed'. And by the time of the centenary of Luther's pinning of the famous Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the cathedral church at Wittenberg in 1517, the term 'Reformation' was adopted by German Lutherans rather narrowly to refer to the events which had surrounded what we now call 'the Luther Affair'. It was not until the eighteenth century that the term 'Reformation' was used to characterize a broader process of religious change. A century later, the German historian, Leopold von Ranke (1795-1886) would refer to 'the Age of the Reformation' to delineate the whole period of European history from 1520 until the end of the Thirty Years War (1648). Catholic contemporaries of Ranke, however, preferred to conceptualize the period as 'The Age of Schism'. Confessionally-rooted interpretations of the protestant reformation have been a fundamental difficulty in its historiography until the twentieth century.

Nowadays, historians are in broad agreement that the term 'protestant reformation' usefully delineates all those religious reformers in the sixteenth century who were inspired by the insistence on scripture alone (in Latin, 'sola scriptura') as the unique validating authority for religious belief and who sought to rid the church of the 'superstition' and corruption which had been introduced into its practices over the centuries. Inevitably, however, the reformers diverged on how to interpret scripture and over how to simplify the ceremonies and practices of the church. They were in broad agreement, however, in rejecting monastic vows and the traditional conception of the monastic life. They united in their abandonment of many well-established devotional practices of the church such as the veneration of saints, pilgrimages, indulgences, and a good deal more. They generally reduced the number of sacraments from the seven (which had been accepted in the medieval western church) to two (or, in some cases, three). There was a good deal of disagreement over the question of images in and around churches, and over the precise role of music in church services, but there was a universal belief that divine services should be held in the vernacular and that the laity (the 'people') should participate in these services.

So the protestant reformation invited lay involvement. It also claimed to have popular support. As you read the protestant reformers of the sixteenth century, you quickly form the impression that the pre-reformation church must have been very unpopular. According to their critique, it was manifestly decadent and corrupt, its failings evident, its inability to reform itself apparent. Already the butt of anticlerical satire and ridicule, they presented it as an institution which



Download as:   txt (18.8 Kb)   pdf (194.2 Kb)   docx (16.1 Kb)  
Continue for 11 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2011, 03). Protestant Reformation. Retrieved 03, 2011, from

"Protestant Reformation" 03 2011. 2011. 03 2011 <>.

"Protestant Reformation.", 03 2011. Web. 03 2011. <>.

"Protestant Reformation." 03, 2011. Accessed 03, 2011.