The Reformation By Gracie, Matthew, and Alexis


The Protestant Reformation played an incredible role in shaping the world we live in today. Five hundred years after the start of the Reformation, we still see the effects that it produced all around us. There are six major impacts of the Reformation to remember: a return to Biblical authority, the creation of a number of Protestant denominations, the path to capitalist societies, the birth of two special classes of the Arts, the ability to establish freedom and justice in government, and an increase in literacy and education in the West.

Causes of Reformation

How the Reformation came to be

1) In 1517, Pope Leo X took up the dream of Pope Julius II to build St. Peter's Cathedral, a really extravagant church.

2) Indulgences, tickets to spend less time in Purgatory before going to heaven, began to be sold. This was perceived as selling tickets of salvation. Johann Tetzel, a salesman of indulgences, angered a man named Martin Luther when he began to sell them this way.

3) Martin Luther, according to legend, nailed ninety-five arguments against the practices of the Roman Catholic Church to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany on October 31, 1517.

4) The Roman Catholic Church's reputation was not looked on highly by all. The Church was filled with corruption, and Pope Julius II had abused his political power.

5) The opposition from Martin Luther continued after he was tried at the Diet of Worms because he was whisked away by the Elector of Saxony. The cries of past protesters like John Huss and John Wycliffe were silenced, but Luther continued to tweet. Now the movement was brought into a full-scale, all-out war for true practices and doctrines.

Course of the Reformation

Martin Luther

Martin Luther 95 Thesis being nailed to the church door in Wittenburg was the start of the Reformation. With his 95 Thesis he pointed out all the problem of the Roman Catholic Church. He showed the people that the church had to much power and was taking over the state. Because of this he was told to come to a trial and it was called the Diet of Worms. After being stolen away from Worms, Luther contributed four things to the world: his German translation of the Bible, his principle doctrine of salvation by faith in Christ alone, his emphasis on the authority of the Bible, and his founding of the Lutheran Church. The upholding of the Bible (was the first major impact of the Reformation) was especially important, as, for the first time in forever, the common man began to have the Bible in his own hands instead of having it preached to him from the Church; translations in the vernacular began to be written. If Martin Luther did not speak out against the Church, many things in modern society would be different today.

Martin Luther nailing his 95 Thesis in Wittenburg

John Calvin

Drop the mic. No, but seriously...John Calvin must have been the second most important player in the Reformation when it comes to a view of its influence on the world today. He created the five-point doctrine of Calvinism (as included in his Institutes of the Christian Religion), and he was one of the most radical reformers during this time. He denied the existence of all free will, upholding instead the total sovereignty of God. A topic that is still greatly debated today is the subject of predestination-- that God has determined all things beforehand, including who is to inherit salvation. From Calvinism emerged groups of Protestants in England, Scotland, and France-- The Puritans, Presbyterians, and the Huguenots, respectively. This was the start of a multiplication of Protestant denominations (is the second major impact of the Reformation), many of which have had an influence in the West; the Anabaptists (against infant baptism) were especially influential.

John Calvin's Institute of Christian Religion

Ulrich Zwingli

Zwingli was titled the Father of reformed Reformation in Switzerland. He was known for reforming the catholic church. He preached regularly from the New Testament. Zwingli caused the city of Zürich in Switzerland to separate from the Church in 1523.

Picture of Ulrich Zwingli

John Knox

John Knox was a Calvinist who founded the Presbyterian Church in Scotland. In contrast to Ireland, which remained Catholic, Scotland was made Protestant. He was known as the greatest preachers in his time.

One of John Knox famous quotes

Additional Factors

1) As Protestants rebelled against Roman Catholic religious art in what is known as an “iconoclasm,” the Church initiated a “Counter-Reformation” to strengthen and improve itself. This started with the convening of the Council of Trent in 1545.

2) Johann Gutenberg’s printing press was enabling the ideas of the Reformation to spread to all people at a quick rate, thus causing the Protestant movement to explode.

What Gutenberg's printer would look like

3) The Protestant reformers all held to the doctrine foundation of the Five Sola’s: Only Scripture, Only Grace, Only Faith, Only Christ, and Only to God Be the Glory

Consequences of the Reformation

Political Consequences

1) The king of England, Henry VIII, split from the Holy Roman Empire to gain an annulment, declaring himself in 1534 to be the head of the Anglican Church, which would lean toward being Protestant with Edward VI, and would (after a while) become fully Protestant with Elizabeth I.

2) The North became predominantly Protestant, and the South stayed Catholic.

3) The Edict of Nantes (1598) provided the idea of religious toleration toward Protestants.

4) The Peace of Augsburg (1555) introduced the choice of a nation’s religious status: Protestant or Catholic.

Social Consequences

The people could now read and learn for themselves, they were able to talk to each other about God and learn from each other.

Religious Consequences

With the reformation people had access to the Bible and could read it. There was also different denominations that branched off from the Reformation. There were now different forms of Christianity like the Anglican Church. There was also different people who believed in the different denominations like Jesuits with Ignatius de Loyola, The Huguenots which are French Protestants, Puritans which are English Protestant, and Presbyterianism.

Economic Consequences

The Reformation produced a work ethic that in time brought forth a system of free enterprise and prosperity in Protestant countries (this is the third major impact of the Reformation). This was called the “Protestant work ethic” by a German man who studied the relation between the Reformation and Capitalism: Max Weber. The Protestant spirit would die in Europe soon after the ideas of Sigmund Freud, who opposed the repression of the sexual desires of man. Thus, the flock to sexual misbehavior was a factor in the fall of the Protestant work ethic in the West.


Protestant art often focused on ordinary people and common scenes, but they were exquisitely realistic (the fourth major impact of the Reformation ).

1) Lucas Cranach the Elder (who painted the famous portrait of Luther), Rembrandt, and Albrecht Durer employed this style. Music, like that of Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Friedrich Handel, was complex and beautiful, ascribing glory to God. These arts were refined. Catholic arts emphasized the grandness of the Church; from this class came Peter Paul Ruebens’ exaggerated paintings and Bernini’s lavishly-decorated cathedrals. These arts are styled in the Baroque fashion. Also here are some picture of different artist and their paintings...

Lucas Cranach/ Allegory of Law and Grace
Quinten Massys/ The Money Changer and His Wife
El Greco/ The Burial of Count Orgaz

The Reformation’s enabling countries to build their foundations on Bible (the fifth major impact of the Reformation) caused nations today to be capable of having freedom and justice.

1) The painter Paul Robert said, “Christianity is the immortal seed of freedom of the world.” Freedom without catastrophe is possible with the governmental basis of the Bible.

2)A man, Samuel Rutherford, from Protestant Scotland wrote the book of law Lex Rex, which had a profound influence on the United States Constitution; this was mediated by the political leader John Witherspoon.

3) John Locke would pull from Rutherford’s ideas to create, although secular, important ideas like the separation of powers and inalienable rights.

The Reformation promoted education and elevated the literacy rates in Protestant countries (the sixth impact of the Reformation), as people needed to be able to read in order to apply the Bible to their lives.


1) It brought back the emphasis on the authority of the Bible, which might have been lost to the Catholic Church, had it not been for the reformers; also it was translated into the vernacular for all people to read now. (Schaeffer 82-83)

2) It gave birth to a wide variety of Protestant denominations. (Harris and Zucker: Varieties), (Richey: Calvinism)

3) It indirectly gave birth to two classes of the Arts: The fine and the extravagant.(Schaeffer), (Richey: Counter-Reformation)

4) It brought forth the basis for freedom and justice in societies. (Schaeffer 105-106, 109)

5) It paved the way to capitalism. (Ferguson 287)

6) It led to an increase in industrialization. (Schaeffer 114)

Works Cited

Arnold, Jack L. "THE CAUSE AND RESULTS OF THE REFORMATION Reformation Men and Theology, Lesson 2 of 11." The Cause and Results of the Reformation. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.

Ferguson, Niall. Civilization: The West and the Rest. New York: Penguin , 2012. Print.

Hammond, Peter. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.

Schaeffer, Francis A. How Should We Then Live?: the Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. Wheaton, IL: Crossway , 2005. Print.

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.