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The Protestant Reformation And Its Results

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Origins and consequences of the Reformation

The protestant reformation started out in the 16th century by early Protestants such as Martin Luther (German Augustinian monk) and John Calvin. It was a huge European movement that was basically set up to reform the ideas and beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church. Political rulers essentially wanted to extend their power and use it at the expenditure of the church. Some historians say that the reformation was the beginning of the modern era. It basically broke apart the union enforced on by the Christianity in the medieval times. Martin Luther hung up 95 theses on a church door in 1517. A lot of what he had written challenged the Roman Catholic doctrine. He said that the proper way to recognize God’s word was through the bible and not the pope. Luther’s theses started to be sold all over Rome. The Lutheranism movement spread quickly through the Netherlands, German states, Scandinavia, Scotland, and most of France.

A counter reformation was set up to fight off these new reformations that were arising. Spain was leading this movement, because at that time Spain was a leading world power. Henry VIII was named ‘Defender of the Faith’ because he constantly attacked Lutheranism in his writings.

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John Calvin set up the second part of the reformation. He wrote a book that basically stated that man was a helpless being before almighty God, and that going to heaven or hell was predetermined. This became known as Calvinism, which spread in Geneva and the inroads of Europe.

In my opinion the Protestant reformation brought about a worldwide religious revolution. Before the reformation most people in Europe were Christians following one church which some believe to have been very corrupt. Also the bible was written in different languages as opposed to just Latin, which made it easier for people who spoke other languages to read.

The reformation as a political phenomenon:

The reformation could be considered political because of the fight for power amongst rulers. The state had most of the power through working with the Roman Catholic Church. There was no separation between church and state, but when the reformation began people were able to choose for themselves what they wanted to follow. Also the fact that Henry VIII wrote against this reformation shows the loss of power the rulers would develop due to this. In England it was generally more political than religious, but Henry’s reorganization of the church is what lead it towards a more religious reform.

The reformation as a religious phenomenon:

The reformation was seen as a religious movement that eventually branched off and became very social and political. It started out as religious because when Martin Luther wrote his 95 theses many people began to follow and agree with his new ideas. People started to have a say in what types of doctrines they would follow. I believe that everyone received the reformation differently; some took it as a political movement and some as a religious one. Leaders in the European countries at the time took it as a political movement because it was a break away from the church, yet people following these new beliefs saw it as a religious type of movement.

The Faith of Galileo and Newton:


“I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy, playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself, in now and then finding a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.” 574

Newton, “When I wrote my treatise about our System I had an eye upon such Principles as might work with considering men for the belief of a Deity and nothing can rejoice me more than to find it useful for that purpose.” 352

God’s presence in the universe, Newton writes, “And to compare and to adjust all these things together in so great a variety of bodies argues that cause to be not blind and fortuitous, but very well skilled in Mechanics and Geometry.” 352 (Inertia, Acceleration, and Gravitation, Position, Extension, Mass)

From reading about Isaac Newton I know that he was always reading the Bible, and he was a great believer in it. What he says about the ocean in the first quote provided; supports this. He says ‘the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me’ this shows that he knows truth is out there and he just needs to discover it. Newton was aware of God’s presence, and he believed in it. He compares the belief in God to mechanics and geometry, so basically everything he did, studied, or read about in these fields connected him with a presence of God.


“I curse and detest the said errors and heresies, and generall all and every error and sect contrary to the Holy Catholic Church.” 290

“This universe, which I with my astonishing observations and clear demonstrations had enlarged a hundred, nay, a thousandfold beyond the limits commonly seen by wise men of all centuries past, is now for me so diminished and reduced, it has shrunk to the meager confines of my body.”371

“My error, then, has been – and I confess it – one of vainglorious ambition and of pure ignorance and inadvertence.” 270 (Salviati, Sagredo, Simplicio- Two Chief World Systems)

Galileo had his own beliefs on the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church and he expresses them freely in the first quote. He was in conflict with the church, but it was not as simple as science vs. religion. The Catholic Church supported Aristotelian science, which Galileo did not. Galileo was sure to express his beliefs against the church, which eventually got him into trouble.


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