The Reformation: What were the consequences?

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Happy Reformation Day everyone! What was the Reformation you ask?  Well it was when the Protestant church broke away from the Catholic Church, all starting with Martin Luther on the 31st October with his 95 theses which he nailed to a church door.  This along with the thoughts and ideas of other theologians were spread across the continents thanks to the recent invention in a printing press.  It was a movement that shocked the western world and made us who we are today.  In this brief post I want to state a few facts as to what the reformation achieved both good and bad!

  • Paved the way for ordinary people to read their bibles, which in turn allowed them to think about religion and faith themselves
  • Paved the way for the free trade and a rising middle class
  • It created a movement away from an established church and religion, but instead allowed for personal faith and freedom of religion
  • It ensured a more centralised government
  • It paved the way for science
  • It created the nation state. What we know as nations today are a result of the reformation! People settled where they found likeness in religion, whether that was Catholicism, or the varying forms of Protestantism. All the countries north of Germany became Protestant, whilst those below stayed Catholic, whilst the Holy Roman Empire was torn between the two.
  • It led to a surprising increase in Witch Trials. This was due to many reasons, one of which was difference in religion, the other being national identities. Most trials happened in across borders. Another reason for trials was that there was still a large amount of superstition in countries of witches and bad harvests
  • It led to the Thirty Years War, which was arguably the worst conflict Europe has ever seen. Every nation was involved across Europe, from Sweden with Gustav Adolphus to Spain, it was a war in which the rules of war were abandoned. This war could be argued as a war for freedom, a war for personal faith, but also a war about economic prosperity and land. Rulers saw what could be gained, such as Catholic France fighting with the Protestants due to their hatred of Spain. Whilst Gustav noted the trade that could be gained from entering the war.
  • It saw a rise in Propaganda, both Catholics and Protestants were writing things about each other, which hardly any of it was true. The main reason being is that they were scared of each other.
  • The Reformation showed the evilness of man. The Catholic Church wanted its control, whilst the Protestants were bickering amongst themselves. It also showed how great God is, raising men in difficult times to bring the word to ordinary people.
  • It showed that Protestants and Catholics cannot work together. Doctrinally, the churches are so different. This doesn’t mean we should start waging war again, far from it, love is always the answer, but we must distance ourselves from the Catholic leadership and doctrine.

The Reformation was and is a marvellous time for Protestants, God worked through it and brought the word to people like you and me. This doesn’t mean we should ignore the problems it did create because of mankind’s sin.  Total war saw hundreds of thousands perish, whole cities destroyed, because of a desire to control people.  So when we think on Reformation Day, be grateful to God for what he has done, for shinning the light, whilst remembering all those who died in a conflict that was born of sin.

It is a great period to study and 600 odd words won’t do it justice, but hopefully this has given you a brief insight!

Author: Michael Sewell

Michael is a graduate from Winchester university with a BA and MA in history; he is now studying for his PhD. He loves football, music, history, games, books, movies, and above all Christ! He considers himself a social democrat and likes to be involved in politics. Michael is also a hopeless romantic, and is known for being crazy!

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