The Reformation By Celine, maya & Hannah

Explore how the Protestant Reformation continues to change the world!

A Look at the History and Purpose of the Protestant Reformation

the causes

Flaws of the cHurch

  • The Roman Catholic Church dominated all aspects of life, including salvation and the Scriptures which were only in Latin for the Bishops and Priests to read.
  • People began to see that the Roman Catholic Church was full of impostors preaching about indulgences, and with Martin Luther's help, people later realized that indulgences aren’t even valid, and that many of the priests weren't even educated.
  • People lost their faith and credibility in the Church in part because of absenteeism, which is a habitual pattern of absence from a duty or obligation.
  • The punishments for everything were very strong and any type of heresy meant death.

The Power of the Papacy was all-controlling.

  • There was no separation between church and state, the Church made and enforced the laws. This was bad because there was no way for a system of checks and balances to be enforced, not to mention the complete corruption of the Roman Catholic Church.
  • The main cause of the Reformation was the action taken by Martin Luther. Noticing the problems within the universal church, a German monk lived by Romans 1:17, "for salvation was from faith alone, not by good deeds."
  • Luther was determined to share his strong beliefs towards the community (including the church). So he nailed his “95 Theses” on the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany, speaking of the flaws of the Church.

Factors of the Start

  • The building of St. Peter’s Basilica required lots of money, and the money funding the building came from the selling of indulgences which lead to Luther’s Ninety-five Theses.
  • The invention of the Gutenberg Printing Press was a very important instrument in the spreading and producing of the Theses and the reformative ideas of Luther.
  • The main cause for the English Reformation was King Henry VIII’s break with Rome based upon an annulment he wanted with his wife.

The Holy Roman Empire

The Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Roman Empire strayed further and further from the truth of the Gospel as it became more corrupted.

The Course

Martin Luther

  • Luther was determined to share his strong beliefs towards the community, so he nailed his 95 Thesis on the Castle Church doors in Wittenberg, Germany, speaking of the flaws of the church.
  • Sparked the Reformation with his strong beliefs that men needed to understand God’s Word, seek a relationship with God, and have faith for him, providing salvation.
  • Luther translated the Bible into German.

Diet of Worms

  • 1521 - Luther was called to defend his ideas for Charles V, the Holy Roman Empire at the Imperial.
  • Martin Luther was excommunicated from the church in this hearing


Luther’s protest eventually introduced other groups, such as the Zwinglians, Calvinists, and the Anabaptists, since others were introduced to the word and were given free speech on their interpretations of it.

Protestantism had been introduced as well, through the denominations growing as a result to Luther's inspiration. These were western Christian churches, separate from the Roman Catholic Church, that followed principles of the Reformation, including the Baptist, Presbyterian, Puritanism, and Lutheran Churches.

In 1598, the Edict of Nantes had ended the French Wars of religion, which helped the Huguenots (French Protestants) have more freedom

John Calvin

  • Well known for his strong stances of predestination, that God has already chose where you are going to spend your eternity, whether you perish in hell or go to heaven.
  • Author of Institutes of the Christian Religion

Ulrich Zwingli

  • Swiss Protestant Reformer who upheld the Bible as the high authority. In 1523, he lead Zurich to its break with Rome. He was also very interested in the Bible, memorizing long passages of the New Testament.

In the end, the Reformation resulted in the Peace of Augsburg which was signed in 1555 and divided Europe into the Roman Catholic Church and the new Lutheran (Protestant) Church.

John Knox

  • Founder of the Presbyterian church. He also introduced democratic forms within the government of Scotland.
  • He was a very influential reformer as well as a Scottish minister and author.

An important part of the Reformation was the art that was produced in this period. Iconoclasm wasn't practiced everywhere, and although there was a lot of art that got destroyed, there was also a lot of art that was created because of the Reformation. Most of the art and architecture of the Reformation was in the Baroque style with arches and exaggerated motion.

From Left to Right: Allegory of Law and Grace by Lucas Cranach the Elder, Quinten Massys' the Money-Changer and His Wife, El Greco's The Burial of Count Orgaz, and Rembrandt's Raising of the Cross.
Left to Right: Four Apostles by Albrecht Durer, Peter Paul Rubens' Massacre of the Innocents, and Bernini's work on St. Peter's Basilica.

The Five Solas

The Reformers looked to Scripture for the moral values and standards to live by. They removed humanistic elements and focused on these Solas, in which had to be followed to be a true believer and follower.

  1. Sola Scriptura - Scripture alone
  2. Sola de Gloria - To the glory of God alone
  3. Sola Fide - Faith alone
  4. Sola Christus - Christ alone
  5. Sola Gratia - Grace alone
Bach and Handel are still famous composers today that produced Reformation era music with the intent to glorify God.

Other Significant individuals

There were many denominations and leaders of the Reformation. Reformers like William Tyndale, Ignatius de Loyola, John Wycliffe and John Huss helped create the many denominations that we have today. Through these reformers, many new denominations were created such as Protestantism, and Puritanism.

Max Weber was known for his thesis of the “Protestant Ethic”, and his idea behind the thought that work was what drove protestants is still supported today, as seen in Ferguson’s, Civilization: The West and the Rest.

Sigmund Freud another thinker of the Reformation became the founder of psychoanalysis.

The Consequences

The Counter Reformation

The Counter Reformation was made up of the years after 1540, where no large areas of Europe (except for the Netherlands) accepted the Protestant belief.

Political Results

  • The Council of Trent (1545 - 1563) believed it was necessary to review their teachings and values. They reviewed beliefs of works, purgatory, hierarchy of the priesthood, and many more.
  • Monarchies increased as the Church decreased in popularity. Because of this, Monarchs separated from the Roman Catholic Church and followed Luther to gain money and land.

Social Results

  • The Reformation was very violent. There were many wars over religious doctrine and different branches and denomination of Christianity.
  • Art was being scrutinized by the Roman Catholic Church for religious value while many of the Protestants were just destroying art for any displayed icons or idols that people might be able to worship.
  • Several men revolted from the misinterpretation of God's Word because they believed the nobility were not equal to them, as common people.

Religious Results

  • Since there were many interpretations of the Bible, many denominations of Christianity were formed: Anglicans, Puritans, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Anabaptists, and Quakers
  • The Counter Reformation by the Roman Catholic Church also brought new opposing radical ideas into light.

Economic Results

  • Henry VIII sold land to the English gentry class, and monarchs and princes gained land and money all throughout the Reformation.
  • Indulgences lost their power in Northern Europe, and as a result the Roman Catholic Church lost a lot of their income.
  • As the Reformation came to a close, the Scientific Revolution was brought on by some of the new ideals created in the Reformation.

Evidence of the Reformation's influence today

2017 marks the 500th Anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. People are celebrating the courageous actions of Martin Luther and his nailing of the Ninety-five theses to the doors of the Church in Wittenberg. The actions Luther took to prove his points to the Roman Catholic Church are the roots of Western Christianity today.

Pope Francis commemorated the Reformation that split Western Christianity on October 13, 2017. He said of Luther, "The church was not a role model, there was corruption, there was worldliness, there was greed, and lust for power. He protested against this. And he was an intelligent man" (Poggioli).

The effects of the Reformation are now and forever will be prominent in many aspects of Western culture.

Quotes and information about the Pope found here: Poggioli, Sylvia. "The Pope Commemorates The Reformation That Split Western Christianity." NPR. NPR, 28 Oct. 2016. Web. 19 Mar. 2017.

Terms (italicized words and picture captions) used in Presentation: Martin Luther, Wittenburg, indulgences, Ninety-five Thesis, Diet of Worms, Ulrich Zwingli, Peach of Augsburg, Anabaptists, Henry VIII, John Calvin/Institutes of the Christian Religion, predestination, Huguenots, Edict of Nantes, Puritanism, Counter-Reformation, Council of Trent, Ignatius de Loyola, Jesuits, Gutenberg, Protestant, Presbyterian, John Knox, William Tyndale, Anglican church, iconoclasm, Baroque, Holy Roman Empire, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Allegory of Law and Grace, Quinten Massys/The MoneyChanger and His Wife, El Greco/The Burial of Count Orgaz, Rembrandt, Albrecht Durer, Peter Paul Reubens, Bernini, Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Friedrich Handel, John Wycliffe, John Huss, Five Solas, Max Weber, Sigmund Freud


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