In the sixteenth century the Catholic Church experienced one of the major challenges that changed the face of this church forever. This development has been described as unique and important since it brought transparency in the church and made it possible for the ordinary person to access the Gods kingdom just like Jesus Christ intended through the tearing of the curtain into two pieces. This transformation was called The Protestant Reformation; it was initially aimed at reforming the institution which is the church by offering the true salvation of God.
The reformers wanted to bring changes in the church using the true word of God. They clearly understood that the Holy Bible was the only authority that was supposed to guide the church. Through this reform the Protestants were basically rejecting the authority of the Pope whom they described as having misled the sheep through introducing some practices which went contrary to the teachings in the Holy Book and doctrines of the early church. To the Protestants sanity had to be returned to the church and get rid of all the evils which had been introduced in the name of worship.
Protestant Reformation was one of the most radical religious transformations to occur in the history of the church. The conflict that ensued led to a major division in the church where on one side there was the Catholic and on the other the Protestants. These reforms were as a result of the economical, religious social and political changes that were taking place during this period. The impacts were so extensive such that they have been described as great turning point for the world and the church.
There are various factors that have been pointed to have played great role as far as Protestant Reformation is concerned. Cunningham and Reich (2005) argue that it is hard to pinpoint the exact factors or conditions which led to the Protestants Reformation but they continue to say that any explanation brought forward has to take into the account the many elements which were coming up during this century. Rise in nationalism and resentment in papacy controlling attitude are some of the conditions which gave rise to this religious revolution.
Other factors include the corruption in the church, power and wealth struggles, mismanagement in the church, and discovery of writing among other causes. The Roman Catholic Church had dominated the religion order in Europe for along period such that it controlled most aspects of life in this region. The church was so powerful such that it controlled most of the political power in Western Europe. During this period the church was growing at a great speed. There was a lot of expansion going on where churches were being built.
One of the worshipping centers that came up during this era was the saint Peter Basilica which was situated in Rome. All these developments were taking place during the papacy of Pope Leo, the tenth. To finance the expansion of the church he had to increase the revenue. He used various methods to achieve this. Some of these methods did not auger well with the teachings in the Gospel. They were corrupt and exploitative in nature. This is the period when the church was riddled by evils beyond no measure.
Cunningham and Reich observe that the church was deeply rooted with corruption and mismanagement “it was like a house cards waiting to be toppled” (p 80) The reforms in the church had been growing over time where people were reacting from the excesses of the church which made the lives of many people so difficulty. Martin Luther one of the architects of this revolution yearned for change that will make the church serve the purpose of Christ. He advocated for personal conversion something that appealed to many people who further demanded for the rejection of the bad practices of the Catholic Church.
Invention of writing brought with itself some of the best things that helped in transformation of religion. For so long religion has been a matter of following without questioning. Followers believed everything that clergy said, they could not have questioned since they did not have anything to back their objections, with invention of printing, people could read for themselves what the word contained. Martin Luther helped translate the Bible in German, it later spread to the other region. This gave many followers of the church a chance to get fast hand information written in the Bible.
People started to question some of the things the clergy were involving themselves in. They started asking for explanations. They could not understand why people would pay for their sins to a priest who would forgive them. This became an eye opener as far as faith is concerned. Martin Luther being one of the champions of the protestant reforms brought much inspiration to the Protestants. There is a lot that was accomplished in this revolution. One there was translation of the Bible into different languages.
This served as a catalyst of the reforms and people came to know what is expected of them. Secondly Martin Luther helped in the promotion of the notion that it is only the holy word that should be the guide as far as Christian life is concerned. The word remains the same and does not change to suit the times. Changing the Holy word for selfish gain or to serve one’s purpose should be discouraged as it is tantamount to disobeying God. There was promotion of the concept where faithful were supposed to justify themselves by the faith.
Martin Luther helped on this end where Christian came to understand that it is only through faith that one should justify he or she is a believer. It is not through the contribution one makes to the church but by the faith in ones heart. Luther also helped in the promotion of the concept of getting saved through the Grace. This was different from what believed in the past where indulgencies were enough to make one holy, Reformation brought a new concept where faithful came to believe in the salvation through Christ.
The church once more became a lively place to be where people worshipped God through singing. This was a major shift from the practices of the Catholic Church where everything revolved through recitation of doctrines which many of the followers could not even understand. Christian came to appreciate that they can approach God directly without having to go through the clergymen, by direct approach it meant that they could pray direct to God without necessary asking the Clergy to do it for them.
Generally there was a renewed spirit among the Protestants where they approached issues differently and in an objective manner. Counter Reformation was basically a reaction to the Protestants Reformation. Roman Catholic attempted to address some of the issues of concern. They tried to eliminate the church excesses that had been pinpointed by the reformers. When Pope Paul 3 took over the church was able to get the much needed leadership. His aim was to meet the challenges brought about by the Protestants. He approved some new orders which helped in some of the issues raised by the Protestants.
This movement has been described as an activism which was keenly marked with evangelization of the new lands that had been discovered, especially in America. Protestant Reformation completely changed the matters of faith. It awakened the sleeping giant which came to realize that people can not be held in ransom for so long. It brought a new dawn where people came to realize that one does not need to pass through any other person to be able to talk to God. This revolution will always be one of the kinds where humanity was redeemed from its own ignorance.
Courtney from Study Moose
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