Protestant Reformation
English: Reformation

Luther's 95 Theses

The Protestant Reformation was a series of events that happened in the 16th century in the Christian Church. Because of corruption in the Catholic Church, some people saw and needed to change the way it worked. People like Erasmus, Huldrych Zwingli, Martin Luther and John Calvin saw the corruption, and tried to stop it. This led to a Schism (religion) split in the church, into Catholics and various Protestantism Protestant churches.

Martin Luther was the first person to translate the Bible into German language German. He could print copies, because Johannes Gutenberg had invented a way to print copies about 50-100 at a relatively low price. The Protestant reformation triggered the Catholic Counter-Reformation.

In general, Martin Luther's posting of the The Ninety-Five Theses|95 theses at Wittenberg is seen as the start of the Protestant Reformation. This happened in the year 1517. John Knox brought Luther's ideas to Scotland and founded the Presbyterian Church.The Peace of Westphalia of 1648 recognised Protestants, and is generally seen as the end of this process.

Causes of Reformation

In the beginning of the 16th century, many events led to the Protestant reformation. Clergy abuse caused people to begin criticizing the Catholic Church. The greed and scandalous lives of the clergy had created a split between them and the peasants. Furthermore, the clergy did not respond to the population's needs, often because they did not speak the local language, or live in their own diocese. The papacy lost prestige.

However, the split was more over doctrine than corruption. The main points of criticism were:

  • The Bible was only printed in Latin, and not in the local language. And printing was controlled by the church by a system of censorship. Catholic Mass, the Church's chief religious service, was also in Latin. This meant the people could not check whether what the priest said was actually correct.
  • The church sold tickets of indulgences (forgiveness) from sins for money. This suggested that the rich could buy their way into Heaven while the poor could not - quite the opposite of what the Bible says. (See Gospel of Matthew 19:24)
  • Religious posts were often sold to whoever was willing to pay the most money for them, see Simony. This meant many priests did not know enough about Christianity. So they told the people many different things. Some of the things had little to do with what was written in the Bible.

In 1515, the Pope started a new indulgence campaign to raise money for the rebuilding of St. Peter's Basilica, a church in Rome. This was the last straw for Martin Luther, a Catholic monk from Germany. On October 31, 1517, he sent his 95 theses to the local archbishop in protest. It is said he nailed a copy to the door of a church in Wittenberg. Luther, who appeared as an enemy of the pope, was excommunicated. In the beginning, Luther had not planned to separate from the Catholic Church or to create a new religion; he wanted to reform the Catholic Church.[1]

The recent invention of the printing press helped spread awareness of the Church's abuses. A start was made in translating the bible into various local languages. For example, John Wycliffe and William Tyndale worked on translating it into the English language. Much of Tyndale's translation was used in the King James version of the Bible.

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Reformation
azərbaycanca: Reformasiya
Bân-lâm-gú: Chong-kàu Kái-kek
башҡортса: Реформация
беларуская: Рэфармацыя
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Рэфармацыя
български: Реформация
bosanski: Reformacija
čeština: Reformace
Deutsch: Reformation
Ελληνικά: Μεταρρύθμιση
English: Reformation
Esperanto: Reformacio
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Chûng-kau Kói-kiet
한국어: 종교 개혁
հայերեն: Ռեֆորմացիա
hrvatski: Reformacija
Bahasa Indonesia: Reformasi Protestan
interlingua: Reforma protestante
íslenska: Siðaskiptin
қазақша: Реформация
Кыргызча: Реформация
Latina: Reformatio
latviešu: Reformācija
Lëtzebuergesch: Reformatioun
lietuvių: Reformacija
Limburgs: Reformatie
Lingua Franca Nova: Reformi protestantiste
magyar: Reformáció
Bahasa Melayu: Reformasi Protestan
Nederlands: Reformatie
Nedersaksies: Reformasie
日本語: 宗教改革
norsk nynorsk: Reformasjonen
occitan: Reforma
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Reformatsiya
Plattdüütsch: Reformatschoon
polski: Reformacja
rumantsch: Refurmaziun
русиньскый: Реформация
русский: Реформация
саха тыла: Реформация
Seeltersk: Reformation
සිංහල: Protestant Reformation
slovenčina: Reformácia
slovenščina: Reformacija
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Reformacija
svenska: Reformationen
Türkçe: Reform (tarih)
Türkmençe: Reformasiýa
українська: Реформація
吴语: 誓反裂教
粵語: 宗教改革
žemaitėška: Refuormacėjė
中文: 宗教改革
kriyòl gwiyannen: Réform protestant