Protestantism and the Protestant form of Christianity were established, and continued to gain momentum in the 1500’s mainly due to the overall discontent many Europeans had with the socio-economic and religious dealings of the Roman Catholic Church. This discontent eventually lead to the reform of the Roman Catholic Church in Europe, and religious beliefs and attitudes became divided between northern and southern Europe.
This is a summary of the events that lead to this historic change in religious culture that would impact Christianity for the next 500 years and beyond.
By the late medieval period, many Europeans perceived the large amount of riches and land acquired by the Roman Catholic Church as unjust when compared to their own relatively poor standards of living. Europeans who followed the inner workings of the Roman Catholic Church were also troubled by the amount of importance the church placed on superstitious practices, such as the worship of false idols. According to Malloy (2010), significant relics venerated by the Catholic Church included the “bones of saints, and any object supposedly touched by Jesus or Mary or the saints. …Many of these items were not genuine” (384). Although earlier efforts to reform the Catholic Church were attempted, none were successful prior to the reform efforts of a priest named Martin Luther. Martin Luther was a German priest and college professor who understood the personal benefits of studying the bible, and was an avid believer in the idea that mans sins were washed away by Jesus sacrifice on the cross.
During the time that Luther was teaching, the Catholic Church was soliciting donations to construct a new St. Peters Basilica in Rome. The church promised favor to those who donated in the form of less time spent in purgatory after death, prior to rising to heaven. Luther strongly opposed this form of spiritual bribery and in 1517 he posted a litany of demands for church reformation on the door of the castle church in the town of Wittenberg, where he lived and taught.
Luther was subsequently excommunicated from the church, and might have been executed for blasphemy had he not had the backing of a prominent prince living in the area. While in refuge, Luther translated the Old and New Testaments of the bible into German, which was as important to the Germans at the time as the Kings James Bibles importance to the English. All of this lead to Luther having a substantial following and many people taking interest into Luther’s ideas and works in the area of church reform.
Martin Luther rejected many of the Catholic religious principles. One of these principles was the requirement for celibacy and the monastic lifestyle. Martin Luther undoubtedly studied the disciples Paul’s directions for marriage found in...