[1] religion with multiple denominations. Another reformer, John

1 Chadwick,
o. (1972). ‘The reformation’, (penguin books ltd), page 11.

2 Murray, J., Todd. (1972). ‘reformation’
(Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd).

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3 Murray, J., Todd. (1985). ‘Martin Luther’
(Catholic Truth Society Ltd).

4 Chadwick, o. (1972). ‘The
reformation’, (penguin books ltd), 1972, page 11 Penguin books Ltd.

5 Chadwick,
o. (1972). ‘The reformation’, (penguin books ltd), 1972, page 11 Penguin
books Ltd.

6  Mullet,
Michael A, (1986), ‘Luther’ (Routledge
Ltd).

7 Chadwick,
o. (1972). ‘The reformation’, (penguin books ltd), 1972, page 11 Penguin
books Ltd.

8 Chadwick,
o. (1972). ‘The reformation’, (penguin books ltd), 1972, page 11 Penguin
books Ltd.

9 Chadwick,
o. (1972). ‘The reformation’, (penguin books ltd), 1972, page 11 Penguin
books Ltd.

10
MacCulloch,Diarmaid. (2005). ‘The
Reformation: A History’ (Penguin books).

11 Lindberg,
C. (Ed.). (1996).  ‘The european reformations’ (illustrated,
reprint ed.) Blackwell Publishers Ltd. Page
233.

12 Lindberg,
C. (Ed.). (1996).  ‘The european reformations’ (illustrated,
reprint ed.) Blackwell Publishers Ltd.  Page 170.

13 Lindberg,
C. (Ed.). (1996).  ‘The european reformations’ (illustrated,
reprint ed.) Blackwell Publishers Ltd.,
Page 191.

14 Chadwick,
o. (1972). ‘The reformation’, (penguin books ltd), 1972, page 11 Penguin
books Ltd.

15
MacCulloch,Diarmaid. (2005). ‘The
Reformation: A History’ (Penguin books).

16Lindberg,
C. (Ed.). (1996).  ‘The european reformations’ (illustrated,
reprint ed.) Blackwell Publishers Ltd,
Page 249.

17Lindberg,
C. (Ed.). (1996).  ‘The european reformations’ (illustrated,
reprint ed.) Blackwell Publishers Ltd,
Page 255.

18 Chadwick,
o. (1972). ‘The reformation’, (penguin books ltd), 1972, page 171
Penguin books Ltd.

Undoubtedly, Martin Luther’s 95 Theses
sparked a revolution. Significantly, Luther’s questioning spirit led to a
reform movement in Germany and across Europe. It is patent Luther inspired many
to rebuke against the Church and their abuses. Not only did Luther’s view lead
to a protest of reform but it led to a demand for change. The Protestants
Reformation would change Christianity from one prominent religion to a religion
with multiple denominations.

Another reformer, John Knoxx would
lead the protest for reform in Scotland. In 1560, Knoxx became the leader of
the Scottish revolution against Catholic authority. Significantly, Knoxx played
a fundamental role in the Scottish parliament’s decision to abolish the
jurisdiction of the Pope in Scotland.The confession of faith was drafted by
John Knoxx.18 Subsequently, John Knoxx’s views led
to the abolishment of mass. The establishment of the Church of Scotland led to
a new reform in theology and the formation of the Presbyterian religion.
Moreover, Protestantism had spread as far as Scandinavia in the 16th
century. A wedge emerged between the King and the Pope over ecclesiastical
affairs and so the monarchy sieged control over the Church’s appointments and
placed clerical members under civil law. In addition, Protestant ideals were
introduced.   By the 16th
century, most Scandinavians identified as Protestants. Notably, the reform
movement had spread to areas in Eastern Europe. Although predominantly
Catholic, Poland acquired a large Protestant minority towards the middle of the
16th century. The Reformation was spread in Hungary by Hungarians
who had witnessed and embraced Lutheranism by studying at Wittenberg.

John Calvin became the catalyst for the reform
movement in Geneva.16 John Calvin had to flee from France
after he was influenced by the teachings of Luther. The Frenchman found refuge
in Geneva and it is here Calvin’s ministry teachings would become known all
around the world. Calvin began to question his Catholic faith. In 1536, he
published the institutes of the Christian Religion. Notably, Calvin hoped to
apply a structure to the Protestant Church. In addition, Calvin was the leader
of the Huguenot movement in France.17Inspired by   Luther, Calvin directed the attack against
Catholic beliefs and the authority of the Pope. The Protestant break with the
Catholic Church consequently led to decades of religious wars.

The
16th century bared witness to a revolt against the Church. This rebellious
spirit caused by Martin Luther would lead many to further rebel against the
Church. In comparison to Luther’s and Zwingli’s break from the church, Henry
VIII decision to leave the Catholic Church was based on different reasons. Accordingly,
Henry VIII wished to become annulled from Catherine of Aragon and with the Pope’s
refusal, King Henry used the parliament to try and challenge the supremacy over
religious issues.14 Consequently, the
parliament passed a series of legislations which stripped the Catholic clergy
of its power in England. In 1534, the parliament passed the Act of Supremacy
which declared Henry VIII authority over the Church in England15. The new Anglican Church
annulled king Henry’s marriage. As a result of Kings Henry’s actions, he was
subsequently excommunicated. The Church of England was legitimised by the King
and remains a paramount part of English culture.

In
addition, the work of Luther had inspired many to work for reforms.11Notably, by this time the
Reformation had spread beyond Germany, where discontent for the Catholic Church
had raised a protest of reform. In Zurich, the leading citizens were influenced
by the reforming doctrines. Huldrych Zwingli became a catalyst for change in
Switzerland.12
Notably, Zwingli was interested in the methodologies and the teachings of
Luther. Zwingli claimed that his reform was independent from Luther’s and that
he began to compose reforming doctrines before Luther. Zwingli argued on issues
about customs of fasting, marriage and the use of iconic images. Zwingli
developed a new liturgy for communion for Catholic mass. Alike Luther,
Zwingli’s beliefs spread radically and divided the country along religious
lines.  Zwingli attacked the hierarchy of
the Church. In 1529, the Malburg Collquy was called to place order within the
confederation.13The
conference was called to address religious harmony and noted that a Protestant
theology was needed to unify the movement and reconcile the differing views of
Luther and Zwingli. Neither Luther or Zwingli could come to an agreement of the
aspect of Holy Communion. This aspect marginalized Lutherans from the followers
of Zwingl.

In
1520, the Pope issued the Exsurge Domine9. This papal intended to
attack Luther and his views. The papal was received with widespread disdain and
the document was burned publicly. However, after he was declared a heretic at
the Diet of Worms, Luther was determined to continue spreading his views. With
the protection of Prince Frederick III, Luther translated the New Testament
into the vernacular thereby allowing Germans to read scripture. In addition, it
prompted people to further question the teachings of the Church as opposed to
what was wrote in scripture. By 1522, Luther’s writings had sparked a wave of
revolt and reform among his own Augustine order and across towns and village in
Germany. Remarkably, civil unrest increased and became a prominent part of
society. The reform movement which was ignited by Martin Luther became the
Protestant Reformation. The Diet of Speyer concluded that every province had
the right to rule, live and believe in whatever they wanted to. This was
another factor which influenced the spread of Protestantism. The Diet of Speyer
allowed Princes to advance Protestantism in their own provinces under the
privileges of independent action. Charles V opposed the results of the Diet of
Speyer, but granted religious tolerance to Protestants10.

Within
weeks Luther’s 95 Theses had spread and were translated into Latin.
Significantly, the invention of the Printing Press played a paramount role
during the Reformation. Fundamentally, the Printing Press enabled Luther’s views
to be spread across Europe.
Pamphlets were published with Luther’s views. In the early years of the
Reformation, German-language printing presses published hundreds of pamphlets
by Martin Luther. Significantly, the invention of the printings press removed
the control of written material from the church. The printing press allowed the
spreading of views that were regarded as heretical. Notably,
Luther’s 95 Theses sparked contention towards the Church. Civilians had
questioned the issues Luther addressed in his 95 Theses but were not bold or
daring enough to voice their perspectives on the matter. Therefore, Luther would
become the face of the reform movement and represent the majority that shared
in his disdain towards the Church. After archbishop Albrecht analysed 95 Theses,
they were forwarded to Rome.

Controversially,
Luther argued that salvation could not be obtained by membership within an
institution such as the Church or be controlled by an individual. Luther’s
beliefs stressed that salvation was a spiritual gift given by God. Salvation
came from faith alone. The selling of indulgences would allow Luther to
question and confront the problematic issues embedded within the Catholic
Church during the 16th century. Essentially, Luther examined how the
sale of indulgences corrupted the faith of the church. Indulgence was a payment
to the Catholic Church by an individual to exempt that person from punishment
for the sins they committed. Boldly, Martin Luther questioned the authority of
the church and whether it could authorise the selling of indulgences. The church
stressed that indulgences would exempt one from purgatory, a fear that was embedded
within the minds of the vulnerable. The selling of indulgences arose during the
period of construction of St Peters Basilica. In 1517, John Tetzel was
commissioner of Indulgences in Germany6. Through the sale of
Indulgences, he would gather money to contribute to the building of St. Peters
Basilica7. Tetzel was accused of
selling indulgences for sins not yet committed and openly became involved in a
bitter debate with the eager Martin Luther who was preaching against him and
the sale of Indulgences. Luther’s 95 theses would become the catalyst for the
Protestant Reformation. In October 1517, Luther wrote a letter to Archbishop
Albrecht.8 This letter questioned the
sale of indulgences and questioned the authority of the church to sell
indulgences. Within this letter, Luther included a copy of his 95 theses, which
included the concept of justification by faith alone. Formidably, Luther
accused the Church of commercializing repentance for material gain. He stressed
that the buying and selling of indulgences was an abomination. Notably, the day
that Luther made his views public by nailing them to the church door of
Wittenberg Castle marked the day the reform movement was born. 

Luther
was ordained in 1508. In 1512, he became a lecturer at the university of
Wittenberg. Significantly, Luther’s devotion to theology would lead him to
explore the problems plaguing the Catholic Church.  During his inquisitive years, Luther began to
question the doctrines of the Catholic Church. Luther’s view of salvation,
penance and righteousness began to change from the view he was instructed to
believe in. Additionally, Luther’s extensive study led him to form his own
ideas and formulate a doctrine of justification. It is his view of
justification that would essentially divide himself from the Catholic Church.3 During the 15th
and 16th centuries, the Catholic Church had emphasised that
membership with the Church and congregation was linked with salvation. Notably,
excommunication was used to threaten Catholic believers into abiding by
instructions and conduct laid out by the Church. The Catholic Church described
itself as a vassal of God and through the Church, God’s message was relayed.
Therefore, salvation would only be obtained by abiding by the conduct outlined
and preached by the Church.4 Notably, the term Vicar of
Christ was appointed upon the Pope. This title had significant meaning as it
described the Pope as Christs personal representative on earth. In addition,
this role played by the Pope enabled him to have universal supremacy over the
Christendom and established himself as a figure of supreme holiness. It is the
concept of this supreme authority in an individual that Luther began to debate.5 However, Luther’s doctrine
of justification enabled him to have a clearer view of what salvation meant.

Martin
Luther is credited as the figure who ignited the Protestant reformation. Born
on the 10th of November 1438 in Saxony, Luther would unknowingly
devote his later life to a monastic way of living.2Significantly, Luther
became a monk and subsequently joined the Augustine Friary in Germany in 1505.
Unknown to Luther, he would embark on a journey that would create and lay the
foundations for a new religious movement which ould have profound effects on
the Christendom. The protestant movement that would transpire in the later
years in Germany would spread across Europe. The protest of reform would emerge
as a backlash towards the corruption of the Catholic Church. This growing
protest would lead to a call for reform. Nonetheless, it is this protest of
reform that would spread vigorously.

At
the beginning of the 16th century, potent figures in the Western
Church were crying out for a reformation. Churchmen criticised the
administration and called for a reform within the church. The Catholic Church
was supreme and held great power, with this power, abuses were rampant. Abuses
such as nepotism, simony, pluralism and absenteeism were implanted within  the church.  For over a century Western Europe had sought
to reform the church and had failed to do so. The Reformation expressed an alternate vision of Christian practice.1 The development of a new
Christian faith would produce a new religious theology and philosophy within
Christianity. Ultimately, this new theology would split the Catholic Church
asunder and change the course of history of Western Culture. The reform movement
caused a significant divide in Western Culture and is referred to as a turning
point in history.

In
this essay I will examine the fundamental role Martin Luther played in the
protestant reformation. Primarily, I will analyse the role Martin Luther played
in this movement and how his protest over the sale of indulgences resulted in a
significant change in the history of Christianity. In addition, I will focus on
the expansion of Protestantism and Protestant denominations across Europe
during the 16th century.