More than 1500 people proposed the idea that the church as a whole was more interested in its own income than in saving souls. They said the popes acted like political leaders and warriors. Instead of encouraging inner piety, priests concerned themselves with the details of ceremonies. Northern humanists had a different view on their own personal faith and spirituality. These people tried bringing their concerns to the Catholic church but got ignored and turned down. Instead of quitting, these reformers urged people who were unhappy about with this religion to form a new church. This revolution ended up splitting the church in western Europe, creating many new churches. This religious revolution is called the Reformation.Order now
The first break from the Roman Catholic Church happened in Germany. A big issue that was happening here is that popes, priests, and monks were asking people to buy indulgences. Indulgences were pardons from punishment for sin. An example of this would be going to Reconciliation and in order to be cleansed of your sins you had to pay your priest money and then all your sins would be forgiven. Many people despised this because they wanted their church to grow more spiritually. One person, Martin Luther, became so unhappy he decided to protest this behavior.
Martin Luther was born in 1483 in a mining community of Eisenleben, Saxony. Luther received a good education and planned to become a lawyer. As a kid he thought of himself as a terrible sinner. He was always worried about the salvation of his soul. One day as he was walking home, a storm suddenly took over. A blinding lightning bolt struck very close by him. Realising he could have died, he gave up studying law and entered the monastery. He soon realized that he could overcome his sin.
After making many trips to holy places in Rome,nothing relieved his feeling of damnation. Finally one night Luther opened the “doors into paradise.” He realized that as long as people believed God would save them, they could receive salvation by God’s grace. He later developed beliefs that would become known as Lutheranism. He believed that a simple faith could lead everyone to salvation.
He then started to protest Tetzel and others who were asking for indulgences. He believed that if you ask poor people to give up their own precious money for false promises of forgiveness, than you were committing a crime and that wasn’t right. Luther came up with 95 theses about indulgences and nailed them on the church door. After many people saw and read these theses, sales of indulgences began to decline. Luther wanted so badly to break from the church. But because his ideas challenged church practices, church leaders denounced him.
By 1520 Luther had disagreed with many church doctrines. He believed that the Bible should tell people what to believe, not popes and bishops. Luther believed that God saw everyone equally. He thought of this church as a “priesthood of all believers.” Luther then wrote three publications that outlined his doctrines. These publications attacked the pope and told people to follow his ideas. When Pope Leo X saw these, he excommunicated Luther.
After the excommunication, Charles V, the new Holy Roman Emperor, invited Luther to the Imperial Diet. This was a special meeting that involved all of the rulers of the empire and was held at the city of Worms. During this meeting the emperor wanted Luther to renounce his ideas. After he declined the offer, he was then banished from the empire. He could not sale or print anymore of his works and was now considered an outlaw. An outlaw is someone who has broken the law and is now banned from that area. However, since Germany had a very weak government, they couldn’t really enforce this on him. While this outlaw was dying down, Frederick the Wise, the Elector of Saxony, offered Luther a place to stay.
While Luther was being protected and hidden by Frederick, he translated the New Testament of the Bible into German. By doing this, more and more people could read the Bible and know the truth. Years after this he finally translated the whole Bible from Hebrew and Greek. After translating the whole Bible people could know read it all for themselves. Luther and his followers soon became known as the “protestants.” His ideas and works continued to spread and he soon established a new church called the Lutheran church. He tried to keep his new church simple. It consisted of the Lutheran clergy which were called ministers. The had no special powers except to guide people to the true faith. In his church he only permitted two sacraments. The two sacraments he had were the only two sacraments talked about in the Bible– baptism and communion. The ministers only had to give these two sacraments so they were known to have had less importance than the Catholic priests had.
With Luther’s simple and direct faith, he touched many people. Many rulers established Lutheran churches in their own domains. Charles V did not like the spread of this. He tried many times to stop it from spreading but had too many other things going on. After fighting the Ottoman Turks and the French he turned his focus back onto Luther. He sent his army for Germany to fight the Protestants for both religious and political reasons. Although he won most of the battles, he just couldn’t defeat Luther or his church. After finally coming to his senses he signed a compromise with the princes called the Peace of Augsburg. One of the provisions in this compromise said that each ruler had the right to choose the religion for their state. Almost all the rulers accepted Luther’s faith.
Between the 1520s and 1530s many new and different religious groups began emerging. These new groups were known as sects. The sects were societies of a few people that gathered together and were usually lead by a preacher. These groups didn’t form churches and many of them later died out.
Martin Luther is the man to thank for those who wanted a new religion. From translating the Bible so his people could read it, to creating his own church, he didn’t stop until he got what he wanted. All along he wanted his people to be able to express their own beliefs and be able to learn about their faith correctly. Luther wasn’t afraid of going past the law and that is exactly what he did.