A new way of thinking erupted throughout Europe starting in 1517 in what is known as the Reformation. Starting with Martin Luther, the new innovations and ideas brought the world to a more secular age. Individuals like Luther and John Calvin lived in a split nation of Catholics and Protestants. The ideas of Lutherans, Calvinists, and the Anabaptists had different ways of paving the road for individualism, secularization, and democracy as their ideas spread for centuries all over the world.
On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther’s ideas changed the way Europe thought about God, economics, culture, even the truth. Luther was a monk who read Jon Hus and Erasmus’ criticisms of the Church. Luther believed Christianity was a lot simpler than what the Catholic Church tried to teach. He stated that the way to salvation was through faith, not good works. In his piece, On the Freedom of a Christian he states, “...when any man is made good or bad, this does not arise from his works, but from his faith or unbelief.” As stated in one of his 95 theses, salvation was based on an individual’s own relationship with God. Additionally, to guide faith an individual must interpret the Scripture themselves. The Scripture was infallible. Luther rejected celibacy, purgatory and monasteries because they were inventions outside of the Scripture. Contrary to the
Church’s teaching of laity being inferior to clergy, Luther taught that they were equal, and the Pope was capable of error. This idea of equality was one of the fuels that sparked democracy. In the writing The 12 Articles of the German Peasants, some peasants expressed themselves stating, “...we should be humble, not only towards those in authority, but towards everyone.” Many wanted equal rights and equal treatment, and it was this notion that sparked the German Peasant Revolt in 1552. Luther’s fifth sola, Sola Gloria Dei, or “all the glory to God,” made marriage, and intellectual pursuits important since Protestants emphasized on serving God in this life. This was the beginning of individualism and secularization.
A lawyer by the name of Jean (John) Calvin was one of the first Protestants
to branch off to form what is called Calvinism. Christians had taught humans needed to be saved from sin, while Calvin taught humans were justly condemned to hell because of the Fall, or original sin by Adam and Eve. However, he believed God chose “the Elect” who were granted salvation. This concept was called predestination. Although no one could be told if they were chosen, instead the individual had to feel an inner feeling or connection. Good works showed others who the elect were but didn’t save a person. In contrast with Luther’s ideas of God’s will coinciding with human’s free will, Calvin’s ideas gave God too much will and humans none at all, an idea criticized by Luther. Another feature of Calvinism was elected congregational government, where pastors, and councils were elected by “elders”. The church was...