Protestant Reformation 101 World History Reformation or Revolution?

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Protestant Reformation 101

  • World History

Reformation or Revolution?

Early Christianity

  • Borrowed many beliefs from Judaism
  • Belief in one god
  • Belief that Jesus was son of God and sent to deliver mankind from sin
  • Belief in salvation

First Organized Christian Church

  • Roman Catholic=Universal
  • First recognized by Emperor Constantine in 313AD

Martin Luther- 1517 Posts 95 Thesis

Abuses in the Church

  • Popes maintained lavish lifestyles
  • Sales of Indulgences
  • Increased fees for marriages and baptisms
  • Monk, and Priests having affairs and placing their nephews (sons) in high positions of the church
  • Empowered the People
  • Insisted that individual Christians should be own interpreters of scripture, Christian practices should come only from Bible
  • To aid this process, Luther translated Bible into German
  • Translation allowed more people to read Bible without aid of clergy
  • Luther’s Message
  • Following publication of theses, Luther continued to study, debate
  • Contradicted basic Catholic beliefs, insisted God’s grace cannot be won by good works; faith alone needed
  • 1519, declared only head of Christian Church was Jesus, not pope

Martin Luther’s Concerns (some of them)

  • Pope’s lavish lifestyle (Vatican-too costly)
  • Pope’s competed for political power with kings. (Kingdom of Christians)
  • Indulgences
  • Selling of Church offices to highest bidder (Simony)
  • Church services too fancy (golden chalices)
  • Church refused to support use of vernacular in services and Bible

Why was Martin Luther so successful?

  • Invention of the printing press in 1440 by Gutenberg spread Luther’s ideas. Between 1516-1546, 1 million copies of Luther’s ideas were circulated.

Why so Successful Continued…

  • He was bright/academic- top of his class at university- masters degree/professor of theology/Augustinian monk
  • Hardworking/intense – Wrote enough to fill 102 volumes of books- translated Bible from Greek to German in 11 weeks!
  • Extremely Pious (religious)- said the mass 7 times a day/fasted many times until near death!

Why Successful continued…

  • Germany not united – part of Holy Roman Empire. The Germans resented the Catholic Church because of abusive leadership in Rome and tithe money going to Rome. Martin Luther was popular with the people. After he was excommunicated he was protected by Frederick the Wise for another 20 yrs.

Martin Luther’s Beliefs

  • “Salvation by faith alone”- Paul’s letters to Romans 1:17
  • The Bible not the pope is the final authority
  • “Priesthood of all believers”- the faithful are all equal in God’s eyes.
  • Indulgences wrong!
  • Priests can marry-he was!
  • Edict of Worms
  • Emperor handed down Edict of Worms
  • Declared Luther to be outlaw, condemned his writings
  • Luther’s ideas spread
  • German Diet
  • Luther appeared before emperor, German Diet, or assembly, at city of Worms
  • Refused to change opinions
  • Protestant
  • 1529, Charles V tried to suppress Lutherans in Germany
  • German princes issued protestatio, protest, against this
  • Term Protestant came from this
  • Reactions to Luther

Results of Luther’s Ideas/Actions

  • Wars of religion split Europe- Thirty Years War devastated Germany
  • Other Protestant (root word protest) Churches Develop- See diagram in your packet
  • - Lutheran Church
  • - Anglican (Church of England) in England- Henry VIII
  • - Calvinism in Switzerland-predestination and theocracy
  • (Government run by religious leaders)
  • - Calvinism in Scotland under J. Knox- later became Presbyterians


  • Finally, in 1546- Same year Luther died- The Catholic Church reformed abuses at Council of Trent= Catholic Reformation
  • Eventually, Catholic Church recognized Protestants (Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc.) as fellow Christians.

Essay Question: Revolution or Reformation? Defend with facts.

  • Revolution: Old ideas are challenged, new ideas replace old ideas, major alterations in religion, culture, history, technology, etc. take place.
  • Reformation: The act of changing doctrines and practices to improve an institution in this case the Catholic Church.


  • National Geographic Magazine
  • Encarta Dictionary

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