The Reformation was a movement brought about in the 16th century by educated Catholics questioning the doctrines of the Catholic Church. Protestants can generally trace their separation from the Catholic Church at this time. Martin Luther, John Calvin and Henry VIII were three significant figures who questioned the Catholic Church thus bringing about changes in western civilization.
Martin Luther’s extreme criticism of the Church’s hierarchy and its corruption was the start of the Reformation. Luther disagreed with many of the Church’s teaching but was “outraged by the way an indulgence was preached ….. set the sinner free from the penance”(Wright Rev, W:17). He believed that the Catholic Church was wrong in teaching that salvation could be bought. He also argued that “purgatory was a fable made up simply to extract money, and masses for the dead were much the same” (Wright Rev. W:17). Luther was revolted and nailed his criticisms “Ninety-Five Theses on the Power of Indulgences” to Wittenberg Castle for all to see. He believed that it made a mockery of faith and the meaning of salvation. His beliefs were based on three principles: Sola Fide "by faith alone", Sola scriptura "by scripture alone", and Sola gratia "by grace alone".
His views had huge impact on the political and social system particularly the serf population who agreed with Luther’s view that everyone was equal in the eyes of God creating huge consequences when they demanded freedom.
New religions began to form and countries such as Germany, Italy and Switzerland were challenging Rome. Zwingli the leader in Switzerland even gave the “right to regulate the religion of their people” (Wright Rev, W:18). Thus monasteries closed, the papacy lost its superior power and people were encouraged to read the bible.
Another figure who had a huge impact on the Reformation was John Calvin. He believed that he was called by God to lead the reform of Christianity thus adopting Protestantism. His church was...