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In 1-2 double-spaced pages, describe some of the key problems identified by Martin Luther in the Roman Catholic Church which called for Reformation.

PROTESTANT REFORMATION

B ACKGROUND

• The Roman Catholic Church in western Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth

centuries an all-pervasive influence.

• Clergy were dispensers of sacraments, managers of hospitals, in charge of

schools, and dispensers of services such as writing and literacy.

• The Pope was a major political force in his own right and a constant fixture in

strategic alliances of the west.

B ACKGROUND

• Many see this period as truly a

time of reform and renewal for

western Christendom, which

only accidentally led to

fragmentation.

• Church-building

• Religious enthusiasm

• Age of great religious art

• Pilgrimage and other forms of

public devotion

B ACKGROUND

• Scholasticism

• Free thought

• Humanism and the rediscovery of the

classics

MARTIN
LUTHER

• 16th century Roman Catholic

priest and monk.

• Professor of theology.

• Plagued by anxiety about his

own sin and salvation.

• Deeply indebted to Augustinian

readings of Scripture.

MART I N L U T H E R

• In 1517, posts famous “95 Theses” on the

door of the Church in Wittenberg.

• Went on to compose numerous biblical

commentaries and other writings.

• Excommunicated by Roman Catholic

Church in 1520.

95 THESES

In the 95 Theses, what

was Luther’s primary

complaint against the

Roman Catholic

Church?

INDULGENCES

• Grants remitting penitential punishment.

• Could be seen as practical demonstration that God loved sinners, and that

God’s love was channeled through the power of the Church.

• Seen by many as corrupt means of raising funds for the Church.

FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF LUTHER’S
THOUGHTS ON SALVATION

• Sola gratia

• Sola fide

• Sola Scriptura

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of
the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do
not trust either in the Pope or in Councils
alone, since it is well known that they have
often erred and contradicted themselves), I
am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted
and my conscience is captive to the Word
of God. I cannot and will not recant
anything, since it is neither safe nor right to
go against conscience. May God help me.
Amen.” (Martin Luther)

SOLA GRATIA/SOLA FIDE

• Revives Augustinian/Pelagian debate.

• This debate had revolved around whether one
could earn their salvation through good works (as
Pelagius was accused of teaching) or whether it
was only through God’s grace.

• Luther saw the Roman Catholic Church as being
in direct contradiction to the teachings of the
Apostle Paul by acting as a mediator between
human beings and God.

• Luther likened Paul’s “works of the Law”
(Galatians) to certain teachings and practices of
the Roman Catholic Church, such as confession.

• For Luther, salvation was solely by God’s grace
(sola gratia) and human beings’ faith (sola fide).

• “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith
alone apart from the works of the law.” (Romans
3:28)

• “You see that a person is considered righteous by
what they do and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24)

SOLA SCRIPTURA

• Martin Luther came to argue more broadly

against church tradition and the church

hierarchy as sources of authority regarding

theology.

• For Luther, the sole authority in matters of

doctrine and practice is the Bible.

• Because of this, Luther comes to criticize

other practices of the Roman Catholic

Church which are not found in the

Scriptures, e.g. prayers to the saints.

• The translation of the Bible at this time

remained the Latin Vulgate.

• Only the most educated spoke and

understood Latin.

• Therefore, one’s exposure to the Bible was

usually hearing it in Latin in the Mass, then

having the priest comment upon it in his

homily.

• Because of this, Luther saw the translation

of the Bible into German as a primary task.

PRINTING PRESS

L U T H E R WA S M O R E
“ C AT H O L I C ” T H A N

M A N Y R E A L I Z E

• Eucharist

• Virgin Mary

• “Fr. Martin Luther”

• Other Reformers more radical

HULDRYCH ZWINGLI

• Attacked the practice of fasting during Lent.

• Attacked use of images in worship.

• Promoted clerical marriage.

• Taught that the Eucharist was not the Body and

Blood of Christ, but merely symbols.

JOHN C ALVIN

• French theologian and pastor in

Geneva.

• Broke from the Roman

Catholic Church around 1530.

• Published Institutes of the

Christian Religion in 1536.

• Predestination and God’s

sovereignty.

• Also heavily influenced by

Augustine.

T H E P ROT E S TA N T S H I F T I N
E C C L E S I O L O G I C A L T H I N K I N G

• Since the earliest days of Christianity, it had

been seen as essential that Christians

belong to the Church.

• Mutual excommunications.

• After the Protestant Reformation, over

time one’s individual salvation and

relationship with God seen by Protestants

as more important that belonging to a

particular church.

NEXT CLASS: COUNTER-
REFORMATION

How did the Roman Catholic Church respond to the

claims of the Reformers?

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