The protestant reformation was a period in the 16 th when some Christian broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. These marked the beginning of a new religious movement which laid more emphasis on the importance of the bible and that salvation could only be given to a human beings by God and not through the intermediation of a priest like the Catholics believed. This revolution caused religious, political, intellectual and cultural upheaval all across Europe .This movement set in place new beliefs and structures that define the world in the modern era. In Europe reformers like John Calvin and Martin Luther challenged the authority of a pope and questioned the Catholic Church on the way they viewed Christianity. This disruption caused a lot of conflict and persecutions all across the continent. The counter reformist, the Roman Catholic Church delayed but it was forced to respond to the protestant.
The reformist challenged various unbiblical practices that used to be carried out by the Catholic Church and called for a return to the sound biblical doctrine. The culminating event of the protestant reformation was when Luther posted his Ninety-five theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church on October 31,1517.As we focus on the background history of reformation and Protestantism it is important to have a clear understanding of the roman catholic church belief in apostolic succession. This doctrine dictates that the catholic popes extend from apostle peter to the current pope. Due to this unbroken chain of command they believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church and that the popes have power over all other churches. Because of their belief in apostolic succession and the position of the pope, Catholics place their church tradition and teachings equal to the scripture itself. These became one of the major differences between the protestant and the Roman Catholic Church. It later became one of the foundational issues which led to protestant Reformation
Even before the protestant reformation some groups of people would not agree to some unbiblical practices of the Roman Catholic Church. These groups of people were small and isolated they include the petrobrusians, waldensians and Lollards. Long before even martin Luther started the Lrevolution there were men who already had an understanding of the true gospel rather than that of catholic church. These Men included John Wycliffe who was an oxford professor who was later to be condemned as heretic. We also had Jan Hus who was a priest and was later to be burned for preaching a contrary gospel. We also had Girolamo Savonarola who was an Italian and was hanged and later burned. Rather than the Catholic Church accepting to reform they started conspiring on how they would silence the reformers. New churches had started emerging from the revolution. There were four major divisions of the Protestantism, those who were followers of martin luther formed the Lutheran church, followers of Calvin formed the reformed church, John Knox’s followers formed the Presbyterian church later some protestants in England formed the Anglican church.
The protestant reformation wanted to explain some basic issues that pertained Christianity. They sought to explain salvation in human beings, who has the religious authority over another, what a church meant and how Christian can embrace a good Christian living. This issues were best explained by five biblical principles which ended up separating Protestants and the roman catholic church. The reformers refused to put away with this biblical doctrine even to the point of death. The first principals stated that the bible alone have the sole authority of all matters of faith. They emphasised that all traditions and practices of the church should be based on the scriputer. Secondly the Protestants believed that salvation is by grace alone. It can further be explained as God undeserved favour in human beings this is to mean that we have been saved from Gods wrath by his grace and mercies and not by our good works. The coming of Christ was the efficient cause of salvation. The grace of God comes to us through the supernatural works of the Holy Spirit who introduces us to Christ by saving us from our sin therefore raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life. Thirdly, they believed that salvation is by faith alone. They further explained that we are justified by our faith in Christ Jesus and not by any works of the law. It is by faith in Christ that human beings attain righteousness which is the only stardandard required for a human being to be right with God. Moreover they believed that salvation comes through Christ alone. They believed that no one else can save or have the power to save except Christ Jesus. They believed that the death of Jesus at the cross was what reconciled man with God. Lastly they believed that salvation is for the glory of God alone. Salvation was brought to human beings through Gods glory therefore Christians must worship and magnify him only. Christians also need to allow the presence of God to dwell in their lives. These were the reason behind protestant reformation.
The Catholic Church was forced to respond to the criticism laid down by the Protestants. They did this in very many ways during a period known as counter-reformation. The Counter Reformation was taking place during the same period as the protestant reformation. Some Roman Catholic individuals were defensive against protestant revolution but others called for reforms. Before the Counter Reformation there were a lot of critics on the policies, popes and the clergy. The Catholic Church created new religious groups which included the Ursulines, Capuchines, Theatines and Jesuits to show revival to those who criticised the church. As reforms continued to take place pope Paul three, who was the first pope during the period of counter reformation formed the council of Trent. The council of Trent held successive session between 1545 to 1563 aiming to address the issues that had been raised by Protestants. This council had a lot of issues to handle. It addressed corruption in church and some issues like the sale of indulgences a system where rich people used to buy their forgiveness from sin. The council helped to demystify the origin of sin and that forgiveness could not be bought with money. They also came up with the number of sacrament to be taken and the presences of Christ in the Eucharist. The Roman Inquisition was also developed in 1542 which aimed at dealing with heresy. The inquisition proved to be more successful is controlling doctrines and practices in places where Protestants were proving to be more powerful than the Catholic Church these inquisition also dealt with academic issues which had caused the difference in theological thoughts. In 1559 it wrote and published its books which were directed at preventing Catholics from being exposed to what they termed as heretical writings. The inquisition also judged those people who had broken the church rules and those who were found guilty were condemned to death. This period saw a lot more new organisations being formed. We also had had the Italian based oratory of divine love which aimed at impacting spirituality to its members and promoted good works. Members of this group ranged from the clerics to lay people. Other organisations were all based on religion and members included only priests. Example of such an organisation was the society of Jesuits which aimed at spreading Catholics doctrines.
The secular world reacted by using military force against reformations, as catholic kings and princes worked hard to capture and control territories that belonged to protestants monarchs. King Phillip of Spain together with the king of France and the holy roman emperor Charles waged a decade long campaign against Protestants in counties like Belgium Netherland and England but still they were unsuccessful. For example his attempt to invade England in 1588 was defeated by the British weather and the English navy. Against the views of some catholic leaders several wars broke when these leaders tried to deter the spread of Protestants in their countries. In 1562 a civil war broke in France and continued up to 1598 while another rebellion in Netherlands started in 1566 and ended in 1648.A religious war also began between Spain and England it started in 1585 and ended in 1604. All this civil war demonstrates how reformation was met with a lot of resistance.