Protestant Reformation

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The Protestant Reformation, often referred to simply as the Reformation, was the schism within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Müntzer, Huldrych Zwingli and other early Protestant Reformers.  Martin Luther is widely acknowledged to have started the Reformation with his 1517 work The Ninety-Five Theses. The Roman Catholic Church responded with a Counter-Reformation initiated by the Council of Trent.


  • The hinges on which the controversy turns are these: first, in their contending that the form of the Church is always visible and apparent; and, secondly, in their placing this form in the see of the Church of Rome and its hierarchy. We, on the contrary, maintain, both that the Church may exist without any apparent form, and, moreover, that the form is not ascertained by that external splendour which they foolishly admire, but by a very different mark, namely, by the pure preaching of the word of God, and the due administration of the sacraments.
  • The league at Allstedt wanted to establish this principle, Omnia sunt communia, ‘All property should be held in common’ and should be distributed to each according to his needs, as the occasion required. Any prince, count, or lord who did not want to do this, after first being warned about it, should be beheaded or hanged.
    • Thomas Müntzer in Revelation and Revolution: Basic Writings of Thomas Müntzer (1993), p. 200
  • The Catholic Church was derived from three sources.  Its sacred history was Jewish, its theology was Greek, its government and canon law were, at least indirectly, Roman.  The Reformation rejected the Roman elements, softened the Greek elements, and greatly strengthened the Judaic elements.  It thus co-operated with the nationalist forces which were undoing the work of social cohesion which had been effected first by the Roman Empire and then by the Roman Church.

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