REFORMATION (I): LUTHERANISM AND CALVINISM

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was an Augustinian monk and university lecturer in Wittenberg when he composed his “95 Theses,” which protested the pope’s sale of reprieves from penance, or indulgences. Although he had hoped to spur renewal from within the church, in 1521 he was summoned before the Diet of Worms and excommunicated. Sheltered by Friedrich, elector of Saxony, Luther translated the Bible into German and continued his output of vernacular pamphlets.

When German peasants, inspired in part by Luther’s empowering “priesthood of all believers,” revolted in 1524, Luther sided with Germany’s princes. By the Reformation’s end, Lutheranism had become the state religion throughout much of Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltics.

The Swiss Reformation began in 1519 with the sermons of Ulrich Zwingli, whose ideas were similar to Luther’s. In 1541 John Calvin, a French Protestant  was invited to settle in Geneva and put his Reformed doctrine into practice. He defended the idea of  humanity’s predestined fate. The result was a theocratic regime of enforced, austere morality.

Calvin’s Geneva became a home for Protestant exiles, and his doctrines quickly spread to Scotland, France, Transylvania   and the Low Countries, where Dutch Calvinism became a religious and economic force for the next 400 years.

ReformationKeyFiguresWorksheet

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