Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Reformation (500 Years Later)

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The Reformation (500 Years Later)

One of the most important parts of religious and human history was the Reformation. It was a revolutionary change in Christianity. From the time of the 95 Theses to the beginnings of the 18th century, early Reformation events greatly influence our modern world. The Reformation inspired more inquires or the questioning of the authoritarianism of medieval Roman Catholic ecclesiastical authority. It established the modern existence of Protestant and Baptist religious groups. Also, the Reformation made the Catholic Church to create their Counter-Reformation. Part of the Counter-Reformation was the invention of the Jesuits during the 16th century. The Jesuit founder Ignatius Loyola desired the suppression of the vibrant, growing Protestant movement. The Jesuits had been banned in numerous nations. Not to mention that the corruption and theological errors of the Roman Catholic Church were massive factors on why the Reformation commenced in the first place. The evil practice of indulgences (of the Catholic Church) harmed the poor and exploited human lives. Martin Luther of Germany was one of the many early Reformers who sought not only the promotion of sola fide (or faith alone). Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others wanted the Bible to be translated into their own tongues as the Catholic hierarchy back then forbid Bible translations to be in languages other than Latin. Bloodshed followed the Reformation. This included religious wars among Protestants and Catholics. Independent Anabaptists (who were autonomous in their structures, they believed in the believer’s baptism, and they followed the separation of church and state) existed back then as well. Anabaptists were also persecuted by both Catholics and Protestants.

The Greek Textus Receptus (or a Greek translation of the New Testament) were used heavily during the Reformation period. William Tyndale’s translation of the Bible in English relied on the Textus Receptus. William Tyndale would be murdered, because of his support of the Reformation and because of his theological views. In fact, many Protestants would be murdered by political and religious authorities because of their faith. The Reformation was facilitated by the printing press (which accelerated pro-Reformers’ literature rapidly. In Europe, Gutenberg modernized the printing press). Not to mention that many poor and working class people in Europe agreed with some of the principles of the Reformation. The Waldensians, John Wycliffe, John Huss, Erasmus, and other people were predecessors of the historic Reformation movement. Many people, who claimed to support the Reformation, would be involved in many evils like slavery, racism, and sexism. Others, who supported the teachings of the Reformation (back then and today), would go on to advance religious tolerance, human freedom, the freedom of press, an end to slavery, and justice. So, the Reformation was a world changing event whose legacy is diverse and whose influence is extremely powerful.

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Predecessors Before the Reformation

In terms of religious antecedents, the Reformation is no exception. Since the days of Jesus Christ (when he was physically in the Earth) and the early Apostles, many Christians have advanced a simplistic, culturally enriching, and powerful Gospel. The early Christian church had no purgatory, no adoration of the host, no Inquisition, no mandatory celibacy for priests, no absolution, no Lent, no Syllabus Errorum [Syllabus of Errors], and no infallibility of the Pope. So, we have to follow real history and the truth in order for us to grow spiritually. Cyprian was a religious leader during the 200’s A.D. He was a bishop of Carthage. He wrote much literature about spiritual matters ranging from theological debates to history. He was the person who wrote that no man should act as “bishop of bishops” in saying that no bishop from Rome or anyone else should act as the primary leader of Christendom. As time went on, the Catholic Church, as we see it, would be invented and false doctrines from purgatory to the veneration of saints would be part of its foundational doctrines. Vigilantius of the 5th century A.D. spoke out against many errors that were spread in Europe. Jerome criticized Virgilantius harshly, because Vigilantius continued to oppose the vigils in basilicas or churches. Jovianius also criticized the myth that virgin is better than a wife in the sight of God. I don’t agree with Jovanius on every issue, but he is right to question plus oppose authoritarian institutions and false doctrines.

After the Roman Empire ended, the Germanic tribes (like the Franks, the Angles, the Saxons, and the Visigoths) conquered much of Western Europe and even parts of Northern Africa. They later became part of the many kings of Europe. The Pope continued to work with the kings in dominating European politics, religion, and culture. Still, independent Christians flourished. During the early Carolingian Empire of the 800’s (in France), many religious scholars questioned transubstantiation (or the belief that the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is present during communion ceremony, which is blasphemous and illogical). These scholars included Ratrammnus of Corbie, John Scotus Eriugena, (an Irish theologian), and others (from the 840’s A.D.). Claudius of Turin rejected the cult of images during the 820’s A.D. Gottscahlk questioned many Catholic doctrines too. Many people in their positions risked imprisonment, their books burned, and some even experienced death. Many religious people, who disagreed with Romanism back then, were in fact killed by political authorities because of their religious views.

By the 1100’s, Peter of Bruys was a French religious leader who criticized infant baptism, opposed the erecting of churches and the veneration of crosses, opposed the doctrine of transubstantiation, and denied the efficacy of prayers for the dead. He’s right on all of those accounts except for the opposition of the erecting of churches. I disagree with him on some issues, but his followers called the Petrobrusians opposed mandatory clerical celibacy. He was killed by a mob later by 1131 A.D.

One of the most influential predecessors of the Reformation was Peter Waldo. He lived from 1140 to 1205 A.D. He was a leader of the Waldensians. He opposed purgatory and transubstantiation. His followers preached around Europe, promoted a translation of the New Testament into the vernacular (or the Franco-Provençal language), and he believed in the universal priesthood. His followers existed for centuries in northern Italy to escape suppression. Many Waldensians would ally with the Reformers centuries later. By the 1300’s, John Wycliffe was born. He is called the Morning Star of the Reformation because of his views, which were very similar to the Reformation’s ideologies. John Wycliffe was an English scholar, theologian, Bible translator, and seminary professor at Oxford. He attacked the greed among some of the clergy in the United Kingdom. He helped to create the Wycliffe Bible of 1382 (it was in the English language). He criticized indulgences, wanted to promote anti-simony (or he was against religious bribes), and he desired more progressive changes in the church. His views were condemned in 1377 by Pope Gregory XI. John Wycliffe focused on helping the poor.

Wycliffe rejected transubstantiation. He wrote literature and passed away in 1384 at the age of 64. His followers were the Lollards which expressed his doctrines throughout England. The Catholic Church condemned him, excommunicated him, and burned his bones (and his ashes were thrown into the River Swift, which flows through Lutterworth). William Thorpe of the 1400’s followed the views of Wycliffe too.  Jon Huss also disagreed with the Roman Catholic Church on many issues. He lived in Prague and was a Czech priest. He was murdered in 1415. It is said that when he was about to expire, he cried out, "Christ, son of the Living God, have mercy on us!" Hus' ashes were later thrown into the Rhine River. The religious freedom that we take for granted in America was brutally suppressed in many areas of the world centuries ago. The Hussites were his followers. Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples believed in justification by faith and he believed in the authority of the Scriptures. Erasmus wanted reform in the Catholic Church and he resisted greed and excess found in many parts of the Catholic Church. He promoted study of theology and he was from the Netherlands. Much of his research contributed to the Reformation Bibles of Europe.  Erasmus published Novum Instrumentum that deals with the Greek New Testament.

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The Problems

The Reformation was created, because of many factors. The Roman Catholic Church dominated the lives of Northern and Western Europe. It didn’t have universal approval too. Many of the church leaders wanted more worldly recognition and power than spiritual enlightenment. These realities caused dissenters to increase their voices more forcefully. People criticized the Vatican as not going far enough in establishing far reaching reforms. By 1500, the Renaissance took total flight in Europe. It caused more people to question reality and the doctrines of the Vatican. The Renaissance was a large artistic movement that focused on the creative expression of the human mind. The printing press spread diverse ideas rapidly including ideas that challenged the Catholic Church’s political power (as church and state are unified in the Vatican back then in most of Europe). Many Popes were overtly corrupt. Some organized wars and lived extravagantly. One example is how Pope John XII (955–964) gave land to a mistress, murdered several people, and was killed by a man who caught him in bed with his wife.  Pope Alexander VI admitted that he fathered several children and had mistresses. In 1500, Pope Alexander VI called for a crusade against Turkish peoples (who were mostly Muslims back then).

The world’s population reaches about 400 million while 100 million live in Europe and Russia. Powerful monarchs challenged the Vatican as the supreme power in Europe. Many leaders viewed the pope as a foreign ruler with too much power. European princes and Kings fought over wealth. Merchants and others hated paying taxes to the Catholic Church. The sale of indulgences was not only repugnant, but it was opposed by many. Some priests were illiterate and poorly educated, so they couldn’t teach the people greatly. Some were using alcohol into excess and some gambled. Some were married and I have no problem with clergymen or clergywomen being married. Humanists like Erasmus and Thomas More promoted reform within Catholicism, but soon the Reformation existed.

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Martin Luther

The leader of the modern Reformation was Martin Luther. Martin Luther had strengthens and weaknesses. To describe both, we must start from the beginning. He lived from 1483 to 1546. He lived in Germany. Ironically, many of his views not only opposed Catholic teachings. Some of his views are in fact very similar to Catholicism. To begin, he was born in Eisleben, Saxony (then apart of the Holy Roman Empire in Germany). His father was Hans Luder and his mother was Margarethe. He had many brothers and sisters and he was close to one brother named Jacob. Martin Luther went to Latin schools in Mansfeld and then Magdeburg in 1497. He was educated in another school on grammar, rhetoric, and logic by 1498. Martin Luther entered the University of Erfurt in Germany at the age of 19 in 1501. Luther did learning and spiritual exercises there. He received the Masters of Arts in philosophy by the year of 1505. Later, he was almost struck by a lightning bolt. He left law school, sold his books, and entered St. Augustine’s Monastery in Erfurt on July 17, 1505. He became an Augustinian monk during the autumn of 1506. He was ordained a priest at Erfurt Cathedral on April 3, 1507. His family wanted him to be a lawyer, but he decided to be a monk. He taught religion at the University of Wittenburg from 1512 to his passing. He received a Doctor of Theology on October 19, 1512.

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The 95 Theses

The Vatican wanted indulgences to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The friar Johann Tetzel supported the promotion of indulgences (or money sent to the church which causes a church to pardon someone of sins). Tetzel’s antics were wrong. Martin Luther opposed and protested the sale of Indulgences. So, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five theses on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg. He invited other scholars to debate him. The 95 theses was a letter sent to Albert of Mainz. The full title of it was “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences.” Back then, Martin Luther had no intention of splitting with the church, but an objection with one church policy. Thesis 86 asks rightfully that: "Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?" When word spread of the 95 Theses, Luther became well known throughout Germany. Luther later said that forgiveness was God’s alone to grant and buying salvation via indulgences was a huge error.

The 95 Theses was translated in Latin and German by his friends in January of 1518. He later believed in justification by faith alone. He believed that justification is the work of God, which is true. He promoted his views by citing the verses from the books of Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians. The salvation by God alone via grace through faith is one core belief of the Reformation. Archbishop Albrecht of Mainz and Magdeburg did not reply to Luther's letter containing the Ninety-five Theses. He had the theses checked for heresy and in December 1517 forwarded them to Rome. Luther believed that church teachings should be based on the words of the Bible. He rejected the authority of the Pope and Church tradition. He believed that priests don’t necessarily need to interpret the Bible for people since all people with faith are equal. His ideals spread quickly. The Vatican at first tolerated him as a rebellious monk. By 1518, Luther denied that the popes had an exclusive right to interpret scripture. He didn’t view the Pope nor church councils as infallible. The theologian Johann Eck later wanted Luther to be defeated because of his views. In 1518, Luther appeared before Cardinal Cajetan in Augsburg and appealed to the General Council while refusing to recant. In 1519, Luther and Johann Eck debated in the Leipzig Debate. In June 15, 1520, Pope Leo X threatened Luther with excommunication via his papal bull or edict Exsurge Domine. The pope wanted him to recant 41 sentences drawn from his writings including the 95 Theses in 60 days. Luther refused and publicly set fire the bull and the decretals on December 10, 1520. He wrote about this in his "Why the Pope and his Recent Book are Burned and Assertions Concerning All Articles." As a consequence, Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X on January 3, 1521, in the bull Decet Romanum Pontificem. Martin Luther continued in his religious views.

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The Reformation Expands

After Martin Luther was excommunicated, his life was certainly in danger. As late as the 1500’s, anyone disagreeing with the Vatican in public (in Europe) risked death. Devout Catholic and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V opposed Luther’s teachings. Charles V controlled a lot of lands and had great power. So, Charles V summoned Luther to the town of Worms. He stood trial. Luther refused to recant or take back his statements. This event is called the Diet of Worms (which is found on the Rhine). Prince Frederick III or the Elector of Saxony protected Luther’s life literally. Later, the Emperor Charles V showed his final draft of the Edict of Worms on May 25, 1521. It declared Luther an outlaw, it banned his literature, and wanted his arrest. It said that: "We want him to be apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic." It also made it a crime for anyone in Germany to give Luther food or shelter. It permitted anyone to kill Luther without legal consequence. Prince Frederick the Wise of Saxony protected Luther’s life. In one of his castles (in the Wartburg Castle at Eisenach), Luther translated the New Testament from Greek into German. He created many writings. He attacked with literature Archbishop Albrecht of Mainz. He worked with his friend Melanchthon.  Luther came back into Wittenburg in 1522. He had his own separate religious group called the Lutherans. Immediately by 1524, the heroic Peasants’ Revolt existed. This revolt was against the injustices of feudalism and economic exploitation by the wealthy elites.

The German peasants believed that Luther’s views can inspire change. Luther opposed the revolt and called for the princes in Germany to stop it without mercy. The German princes killed as many as 100,000 people. The peasants rejected Luther’s religious leadership, because they felt betrayed by him. Northern German princes supported Luther. They became the Protestants. In two of his later works, Luther expressed anti-Semitic views, writing that Jewish homes and synagogues should be destroyed, their money confiscated, and liberty curtailed. There is no excuse for anti-Semitism as it is racist and evil period. Today, every Lutheran denomination has condemned those views and anti-Semitism in general. Later, Protestants included those who disagreed with Roman Catholicism in Western and Northern Europe. Charles V of Germany fought against the Protestant princes. Charles V won the war, but the movement of the Reformation grew. The Peace of Augsburg of 1555 allowed princes in Germany to decide for themselves their own religion.

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The Diversity of the Reformers (in the Reformation)

While the Reformation grew, England had many people that started to embrace Protestantism during the 1500’s. The Catholic Church’s stronghold in England started to end. The Lollard movement existed in England for a while. King Henry VIII of England wanted a son to control his empire. He wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon. The Pope refused to do so. So, he decided to end the marriage himself. In 1529, he asked the Parliament to end the pope’s power over his government in England. By 1533, Henry secretly married Anne Boleyn and the Parliament allowed the divorce of his first marriage. In 1553, the Parliament promoted the Act of Supremacy which ends the Pope’s control over England politically. This policy wanted King Henry VIII, not the pope, to rule the Church of England (or the Anglican Church). Thomas More was an English Catholic who criticized policies of the Vatican, but refused to break away from the Catholic Church. He refused to obey the Act of Supremacy. So, King Henry VIII had him arrested and executed. Anne Boleyn had a child named Elizabeth. She was beheaded in 1536 for not giving birth to a son.  King Henry VIII died in 1547. He had a son named Edward, who was born in 1537. Edward’s mother was Jane Seymour. Edward VI was advised by Protestant adult advisers. He ruled for six years. Later, Mary or the daughter of Catherine of Aragon was on the throne in 1553. She was a Catholic and supported the Pope. She had many Protestants executed. That is why she was nicknamed "Bloody Mary." She died in 1558. Elizabeth or the famous Queen Elizabeth (daughter of Anne Boleyn) inherited the throne. In 1559, Queen Elizabeth I modernized the Church of England or Anglicanism with the help of Parliament. She tried to please both Protestants and Catholics by: allowing priests to marry to please Protestants and to allow trappings of Catholic services to please the Catholics. Elizabeth I faced economic problems, many Catholics trying to kill her since she was a Protestant, and other Protestants viewed her as not going far enough in reforms.

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William Tyndale was a famous English scholar and a translator of the Bible. He lived from c. 1494 to October 6, 1536. He was one of the most heroic people of religious freedom. He was born in Gloucestershire, England. He graduated from Oxford to get his B.A. and Masters of Arts. He was a gifted linguist and became fluent over the years in French, Greek, Hebrew, German, Italian, Latin, and Spanish, in addition to English. Between 1517 and 1521, he went to the University of Cambridge. Erasmus had been the leading teacher of Greek there from August 1511 to January 1512, but not during Tyndale's time at the university. Tyndale was sub deacon too. He became a chaplain and translated the Bible into English. He studied religion in Germany and worked in Antwerp. Tyndale denounced the practice of prayer to saints. He taught justification by faith, the return of Christ, and mortality of the soul. Eventually, Tyndale was betrayed by Henry Phillips  to the imperial authorities. He was seized in Antwerp in 1535, and held in the castle of Vilvoorde (Filford) near Brussels. He was tried on a charge of heresy in 1536 and was condemned to be burned to death, despite Thomas Cromwell's intercession on his behalf. Tyndale was strangled to death while tied at the stake, and then his dead body was burned. His final words, spoken "at the stake with a fervent zeal, and a loud voice", were reported as "Lord! Open the King of England's eyes." William Tyndale's Bible was influential and contributed many words to the English language. His work contributed heavily to future English translations of the Bible. William Tyndale was heroic in promoting his views.

Other forms of Protestantism existed in Europe too. Huldrych Zwingli was influenced by Erasmus and Luther. By 1520, Zwingli criticized the abuses of the Vatican. He wanted the people to control the church in a simplistic fashion.  His reforms existed in Zurich, Switzerland. Protestants and Catholics fought it out in Switzerland and soon Zwingli died in 1531. John Calvin was a young person. He was 8 when the 95 Theses existed. John Calvin gave additional structure to the doctrines of the Reformation. By 1536, Calvin wrote the Institutes of the Christian Religion. It talked about God, salvation, and human nature. Calvin was correct that humans can’t earn salvation by works alone since only God grants that. Yet, Calvin promoted a very rigid, exaggerated form of predestination. He believed that since the beginning of time, God preordained a select group of people to be saved called the elect. Calvinism is his founding teaching. He formed a theocracy or a religious government in Europe. He formed it in 1541 in Geneva, Switzerland. His theocracy had extreme rules. Everyone was forced to attend religious classes. No one played card games or wore bright clothes. Anyone who broke those rules risked excommunication or expulsion from Geneva (which had 200,000 people back then). John Knox admired Calvin’s views and promoted his Presbyterian movement in Scotland. He organized laymen or presbyters to work in a church by 1559.

Calvin revolutionized the Protestant reformation. His views influenced those in France, the Netherlands, and Scotland. Huguenots were the French followers of Calvinism. Many of them suffered the murder in Paris on August 24, 1572 (which is called the Bartholomew Day Massacre). This was when many Catholics executed Protestants. Over 12,000 Huguenots were murdered in cold blood. So, there is diversity in the Reformation. All of these Protestant groups agreed that believers can interpret the Bible for themselves, that preaching and service is important, that the Bible is the sole source of revealed truth, they rejected purgatory, they rejected the pope being infallible, and they rejected indulgences. Anglicans and Lutherans retained more Roman Catholic beliefs than Calvinism. Lutherans believe in the sacramental union. Anglicanism is sense as a hybrid between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism too. Also, Protestants back then believed in an union of church and state (which would be rejected by the Anabaptists and early Baptist groups. They believed in the separation of church and state).  Also, Anabaptists and early Baptists believed that adults should be baptized as they can make a conscious decision to do it (while Protestants back then believed that infants can be baptized). Diversity in Protestantism continues to this day.

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The Counter Reformation (and the Jesuits)

While millions of people turned into Protestants, the Catholic Church didn’t remain silent about this development. They developed their Counter Reformation whose goal was to promote their religion and end the spread of the Reformation. Millions in Europe remained loyal to Catholicism. Some Catholics wanted to reform themselves without leaving and some Catholics wanted to end the Reformation once and for all (yet, that didn’t occur). Popes Paul III and Paul IV were in league with the Counter Reformation. Ignatius of Loyola was the founder of the Jesuit Order. The Jesuit Order, since its inception, was created to fight against Protestantism and promote Catholicism. Loyola grew up in Spain. He fought in a war where he injured his leg in 1521. He wanted comfort during his recovery. He thought about his past sins and about Jesus. He had daily devotions and almost a mystical belief system that he claimed would cleanse his soul, but even the NT has stated that all of our works alone are as filthy rages. Works alone can never save us. You have to have faith, do work, and ultimately God’s power saves us. Ignatius wrote his daily views in his Spiritual Exercises. It is made of a repetition of meditation, prayer, and study. It dealt with spiritual and physical exercise. Ignatius’ followers grew.

The Pope sanctioned the Jesuit Order in 1540. The Jesuits wanted to stop the spread of Protestantism period. They formed schools to promote their religion, they sent missionaries to try to convert people to Catholicism, and Jesuits were trained in theology. Later, Pope III promoted the evil Inquisition that harmed religious freedom and civil liberty, he investigated Catholic corruption, and he wanted to form a council to deal with religious issues. Jesuits have been involved in theological source. The Jesuit theologian from Spain named Luis del Alcázar, for example, was the modern day founder of Preterist thought (as outlined in his literature entitled, "Vestigatio arcani sensus in Apocalypsi." It was published in 1614). Preterism is the belief that nearly all (or all) prophecies of the Bible have been fulfilled by 70 A.D. Many of them believe that many prophecies found in the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelations have already been fulfilled. Preterism holds that Ancient Israel finds its continuation or fulfillment in the Christian church at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Of course, tons of Christians disagree with Preterism because of many reasons from the Gospel not being preached into all of the world and too many prophecies referring to future events.

Jesus Christ is rather clear according to Matthew 24:29-31 , when he has explicitly said in prophetic terms that: "...Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they (the angels) shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other..."

The Council of Trent lasted from 1545 to 1563. It was made up of bishops and cardinals. The Council of Trent was strict and authoritarian. It made the Catholic’s church’s interpretation of the Bible final. It said that Christians must have faith and good works for salvation. They believed that church tradition is equal to the Bible. They supported indulgences, but not the false selling of them. The next Pope, Paul IV, supported the Council of Trent. He went a step further to violate the freedom of speech by allowing the burning of the Index of Forbidden Books (which were critical of the Catholic Church). Protestant Bibles were burned too. Thousands of books were burned in Europe.

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Conflicts involving Religious Views

Protestants and Catholics fought each other in wars for the hegemony of Europe. Spain with Philip II and his empire wanted to promoted Catholicism in Spain and the rest of Europe. Spain was not new to religious wars. Catholics and Muslims fought each other in Spain for a long time before the Reformation. Also, Isabella and Ferdinand supported the evil Inquisition which brutalized people who were non-Catholics. Philip believed that it was his mission to defeat the influences of Protestants and Muslims of the Ottoman Empire. In 1571, Philip and many Catholics fought the Ottoman Turkish peoples. The Spanish Armada in 1588 wanted to attack England, whose leader was Queen Elizabeth I. The Spanish Armada was defeated by the British and this caused the British Empire to grow in strength. By 1598, Henry of Navarre promoted the Edict of Nantes, which promoted religious freedom among Catholics and Protestants in France. This caused a Catholic fanatic to assassinate him. In 1610, Henry Of Navarre was murdered by a sword. Later, Cardinal Richelieu had a big influence in France. He allowed Protestant to worship, but he restricted many of their rights like not having their cities to have walls. He increased the power of the Roman Catholic Church and sought to grow France.

The Thirty Years War from 1618 to 1649 was about Protestants and Catholics (including royal families) fighting over territories and political power. It started with the dispute of Protestants among Hapsburg Ferdinand II closing down Protestant churches (in Bohemia, Germany) and Protestant revolting. In the beginning, the Hapsburg forces were defeating the Protestants in the first 12 years of the war. Germany areas were destroyed by Hapsburg armies. Ferdinand II had an army of 125,000 men. By 1630, the tide of the war changed when the forces of the Protestant Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden numbering 23,000 people. He was killed in battle in 1632. Ironically, Catholics Cardinal Richelieu and Cardinal Mazarin of France joined the German and Swedish Protestant. The reason is that they didn't want the Hapsburg to get more powerful than the French king. So, they fought against the Hapsburg armies. Germany's population dropped from 20 to 16 million during the war. Germany wasn't unified until the 1800's. The Peace of Wesphalia in 1648 ended the war. The treaty weakened the Hapsburg states of Spain and Austria. It increased France power by giving France French territory. German princes became independent of the Holy Roman empire. Religious wars ended in Europe among Protestants and Catholics by 1648. More peace negotiations exist where many people negotiated to end conflicts. An Catholic empire ruling Europe ended with the 1648 Treaty of Wesphalia. The modern state system in Europe developed.



The Anabaptists evolved from the Protestant views. The difference was that the Anabaptists went further in their reform than even what the Protestants has enacted. In their earliest years, many of the Anabaptists were followers of Zwingli in Zurich. Memmo Simons was a Catholic priest. Later, he converted to Anabaptism. He was one leader of the Memmonites. Around 1526 or 1527, questions surrounding the doctrine of transubstantiation caused Menno Simons to begin a serious and in-depth search of the Holy Scriptures, which he confessed he had not previously studied, even being a priest.  From 1536, he was a committed Anabaptist believer. He didn't find anywhere in the scriptures supporting mandatory infant baptism, so he followed his conscience. His wife was Geertruydt Jansdochter and they had 3 children together. He worked in the Netherlands vigorously to advance his creed. Some Memmonites traveled into Ukraine, Poland, the Netherlands, America, and other places to escape religious persecution. Many Anabaptists would express neutrality during wars.

While many Anapatists baptized people who believed in adult age, Protestants back then readily baptized babies. While many Protestants had a union of church and state, Anabaptists believed in the separation of church and state. The Anabaptists believed that a state churches is totally antithetical to the simplistic model of true bodies of believers in communities. They wanted holiness in their lives with earnest and zeal. Anabaptists wanted people old enough to decide for his or herself before getting baptized. Anabaptist came from a Greek word meaning "baptize again." The Anabaptists also believed in not fighting in any wars, because of the words in the New Testament about not being involved of the things of the world (and our kingdom is not of this world). They shared possessions too. Both Protestants and Catholics persecuted Anabaptists viciously. Anabaptists evolved into the Mennonites and the Amish today. Also, the Quakers and the Baptists (who came out of the Anglican Church) would be influenced greatly by Anabaptist teachings.

Conrad Grebel, George Blaurock and Felix Manz were famous Anabaptists of Switzerland. Felix Manz was a martyr at the age of 30, because he wanted to peacefully express his religious views. He was the first Swiss Anabaptist to be martyred at the hands of the Protestant followers of Zwingli. Manz was influential to led hundreds and even thousands to believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ. During his lifetime, he suffered much persecution and numerous imprisonments. He was drowned to death on January 5, 1527 (in Zurich, Switzerland).  His last words were, "Into thy hands, O God, I commend my spirit."

During the early years of the Reformation, women had a prominent role. One example is how the sister of King Francis I (she is Marguertie of Navarre) protected John Calvin from being executed because of religious beliefs in France. Many noblewomen protected reformers. Katherina von Bora played a behind the scenes role as Luther's wife. Women fought for equality during the Reformation including Luther's wife. Unfortunately, it would take long years and centuries for women to get massive leadership roles in clergy.

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The Later History of the Reformation

By the 17th century, the Reformation changed the world. Arminius in 1603 believed in the view that predestination is based on foreknowledge. By 1603, King James I was the leader of the Kingdom of England. He was a person raised Presbyterian in the Church of Scotland. He was a Protestant who would strongly embrace many Protestant views. Later, he would commission the creation of a new Bible. King James I has been loved and hated. The truth is between the two extreme views of the man (those views are that either he was the greatest saint in history or the other view is that he was evil incarnate). King James I did the right thing to have theological disagreements with certain doctrines of Romanism. King James I made the mistake of persecution of many Baptists and religious dissidents. He was an author who wrote the following books: Daemonologie (1597), The True Law of Free Monarchies (1598), and Basilikon Doron (1599). He tried to avoid religious wars and tried to prevent the hawkish members of the Parliament to fight Spain. He survived the Gunpowder plot when dissident Catholics like Guy Fawkes wanted to use explosives to kill him and the members of the Parliament House. The plot was led by Robert Catesby. King James I had long debates with Puritans since the Puritans wanted King James I to make reforms to eliminate certain rituals from the Church of England that they felt were too allied with Catholicism. The Separatists wanted no compromise with King James I and left England to the Netherlands and to America. The King James Version of the Bible of 1611 would be the most famous Bible of the English language. It was created by many scholars and human beings who were polyglots, experts in theology, and trained religious leaders. It took years to create the KJV and it was a compromise between Anglican views and Puritan views. It came out of the Greek Textus Receptus and it was influenced by the Tyndale Bible. As the Puritan movement grew, Calvinism responded to Arminian doctrine with the 5 Point Calvinism by 1619 (after the Synod of Dort from 1618-1619).

After King James I died, because of health issues, Charles I again disagreed with the Puritans. More Puritans go into America. Protestantism in America was filled with spiritual growth like universities being built and the Great Awakening with people like Jonathan Edwards preaching in New England. Also, many Protestants and Catholics would promote the evil of slavery in the Americas too. This evil would ruin lives, harm black people, and promote theological poison (that poison is promoting the evils that slavery is fine and racism is fine, which are lies) for many years to come. In 1685, King Louis XIV of France (1638-1715) revoked the Edict of Nantes (this edict promoted religious freedom and toleration). King Louis XIV was known for his extremism and his absolutism. This caused French Protestants to exodus France and travel worldwide including into America. By the 18th century, the Methodists would exist, Princeton would be founded by Presbyterians in 1764, Brown would be founded by Baptists in 1764, and the first black Baptist church in America would be created (it is found in Silver Bluff, South Carolina). While this is going on, many Baptists were persecuted by members from the Church of England in Virginia and in other places. Baptists in Virginia grew rapidly during the 1700’s. From 1750-1777, more than forty Baptist ministers (both Regular and Separate) are imprisoned for license violations and disturbing the peace. Many other Baptists encountered critics and mobs during this same period. By 1786, General Assembly passes the Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, which effectively disestablishes the Church of England and gives dissenters full and equal legal privileges. The Baptists back then believed in the separation of church and state. This concept has been embraced by many religious people to this very day, because the government has no right to dictate the religious matters of any religious body (and vice versa). Catholics would be persecuted in many places like Maryland. Quakers and other religious dissidents would be persecuted in America. Native Americans would experience massive genocide, rape, etc. by white supremacists throughout the Americas too. So, it was a time of massive change including massive tragedies. From the 19th century and beyond, Protestantism became here to stay.

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The Legacy of the Reformation

The Reformation has a diverse legacy. First, the positive legacy of the Reformation must be shown, then the mistakes of the Reformation, and a conclusion. There were many positive results of the Reformation in Europe and throughout the world. The Reformation ended the Catholic religious and political hegemony in Europe. It allowed more people to read the Bible in their own languages. It inspired religious debate and questioning of authoritarian, ecclesiastical institutions. The Reformation formed the basis of the modern nation-state since it allows more governments to grow outside of the influence of the Catholic Church. It also inspired the Enlightenment as the Enlightenment was about a further questioning of conventions and desired the figuring out of natural laws (and other philosophical components of everyday life). The Reformation existed long before Luther. Its views were heavily inflenced from Peter Waldo (along with the Waldensians) and others who wanted a simplistic community of believers who existed peacefully without religious oppression.

Many people risked their lives to speak about the universality of believers, the symbolic nature of communion, and the right of religious freedom from William Tyndale to John Wycliffe. The Reformation also caused the Protestants ironically enough to further divide into different denominations like Methodists, Episcopalians, Reformed, Presbyterians, etc. The Reformation wasn’t perfect either. The problem with the Reformation wasn’t that it went too far. It was that it didn’t go far enough. Some in the Reformation refused to accept the separation of church and state. Like many Catholics, many Protestants were complicit in the slave trade and were involved in the brutalization of Africans, Asians, Native Americans, etc. Not everyone in Christianity is responsible for this (I want to make that perfectly clear. We know that many Christians were strong abolitionists and fighters for social justice), but these criminals (who claimed to be "Christians") exploited Christianity for nefarious purposes. Europe is more secularized than 500 years ago. Europe is having debates about the EU, immigration, refugees, and religion. The truth is that we don't have to agree with each other on every issue, but us sending authentic compassion to immigrants and to the refugees is representative of the compassionate spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, Islamophobia (i.e. demonization and hatred of Muslims because they are Muslims) and discrimination against Muslims in Europe (and anywhere in the world) is completely wrong and abhorrent.  That is why heroic men and women are continuously fighting for racial, social, gender, and environmental justice in 2017 plus beyond.

Therefore, we live in a new century and the same principle of the Golden Rule applies to humanity regardless of someone's race, color, creed, sex, and background. Ironically enough, some of the most religious Protestants and Baptists in our time are people of color (including black people, Asians, Latinos, etc.). The Catholic Church’s overt political and religious influence declined for a while as a result of the Reformation. Today, the Catholic Church is over 1 billion in membership and advances the Ecumenical movement (which promotes blatant compromise among religious bodies. Also, the Apostle Peter had a wife, which refutes the false notion that any religious bishop must not have a wife. Peter was an apostle not a Pope). Also, there are still very spiritual Protestants and Baptists living their lives in positive ways. The Reformation promoted self-analysis involving theology and a sense of transforming the lives of many people forever. The Reformation represented a new era in world history that resulted in part to the modern era of our history.

By Timothy

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