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Protestant Reformation

root word -protest. The reformation is dated from the day Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the church in Wittenberg, Germany, protesting abuses within the Catholic Church. These were a call to the Catholic Church to reform itself. The results were that the Roman Catholic Church began to splinter apart with the formation of Protestant Churches, each its own variation of the Roman Catholic Church. The era for this division is called the Protestant Reformation - 1517-1603.

Martin Luther

(1483-1546) a German priest and Augustinian friar wrote and posted the 95 Theses on the church in Wittenberg, Germany to call the Church to reform. His greatest concern was the abuse of indulgences.


the lessening of the punishments due for sins that have been forgiven. Indulgences move us towards our final purification, when we will live with God.

Ninety-five Theses

a list of abuses Martin Luther posted on the Church in Wittenberg, Germany appealing to the local bishop to seek correction to the abuses within the church.


a person is no longer able to receive the sacraments and to be considered a member of the Church.


those who follow Martin Luther's teachings.


the name given to the religious leader, he/she is often married and has a family

Diet of Augsburg

peace agreement begun in 1552 and confirmed in writing in 1555 that the princes and free cities of Germany could choose to remain Catholic or become Lutheran. The townspeople were given no choice but to follow the orders of those in power in each area. This led to religious divisions in Germany that still exist today.

Huldrych Zwingli

(1484-1531) a Swiss Catholic priest who rejected more of the Catholic teachings than Luther. Zwingli believed that the Eucharist was only a symbol to remind us of the last Supper. Zwingli's ideas are followed in the Reformed (protestant) Churches.


reject infant baptism. Anabaptists accept adult baptism and the commitment to follow Jesus through the Word of God (bible). Anabaptists are Mennonites and Amish.

John Calvin

lawyer turned theologian, his ideas are the seeds to Calvinism, also called the Reformed Church. Calvin favored the idea of double predestination (God chooses some people for heaven and some for hell; this is God's free decision and nothing can be done to change it)


a doctrine that God determines whether our souls are saved or condemned before we are born.

John Knox

established the Presbyterian Church, a protestant church rooted in Scotland. Presbyterianism is rooted in Calvinism (see the chart).

Development of the Church of England - (Angican in England, Presbyterian in New World)

Henry VIII - wanted annulment from Queen Catherine of Aragon, after waiting several years for the pope to grant the annulment, he has Parliament declare him head of the Church of England (1533). He marries Anne Boleyn and is excommunicated by the Pope from the Roman Catholic Church. Two speak courageously against him - Thomas More (former lord chancellor) and John Fisher (Bishop of Rochester) both are beheaded for speaking against Henry's actions. Following Henry's declaration of himself as head of the church of England, new ways of practicing Christianity emerge, eventually the Church of England is found

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