The Protestant Reformation Essay

1167 Words 5 Pages
What happens when people start to break away from the entity that bound an entire civilization together for over a thousand years? How does one go from unparalleled devotion to God to the exploration of what man could do? From absolute acceptance to intense scrutiny? Sheeple to independent thinkers? Like all revolutions preceding it, the Protestant Reformation did not happen overnight. Catholics had begun to lose faith in the once infallible Church ever since the Great Schism, when there were two popes, each declaring that the other was the antichrist. Two things in particular can be identified as the final catalyst: a new philosophy and simple disgust. The expanding influence of humanism and the corruption of the Catholic Church led …show more content…
A long history of corruption caused people to view the Catholic Church as a for-profit organization rather than God’s voice on Earth. By the Renaissance, the Catholic Church had already lost much of its power over secular rulers but still held leverage over the masses. This authority naturally paved the way for corruption. The most outrageous form of corruption practiced by the Church was the sale of indulgences. An indulgence is the remission of temporal punishment still due for a sin that has been sacramentally absolved. One of the ways the Church would generate income was by selling them. The notion started off innocently enough; it stemmed from the idea that punishment for crimes could be converted to payments of money, in essence, a fine (Simon 35). However, it soon spiraled out of control as the Church used indulgences simply to gain money, as when Pope Leo X needed money for the construction of St. Peter’s basilica (Duiker and Spielvogel 429). People began to view salvation as something that could be bought; they could go out and sin on Saturday night, then simply pay for it monetarily Sunday morning. To encourage people to buy more indulgences, the Church even claimed that indulgences could be bought on behalf of those already dead and in purgatory (Sporre 378). This blatant victimization was what spurred Martin Luther to write his Ninety-Five Theses, which
Open Document