Impact of protestant reformation on modern freedom and democracy

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:History

Document 1

To understand the impact of the Reformation, it is important to consider the religious and political situation of Europe and the world prior to the reforms. In 1500s, only two powers ruled the world. This was the Pope, who dominated church and religious power, and the Emperor, who was in charge of the empire or government2. The Roman Catholic for years has been dominant in the kingdoms of Europe. The Pope was an organized leader who dominated and ruled various churches in the world. In 1517, Martin Luther, a German Augustinian monk, made several challenging propositions that sparked debate on doctrines of Roman Catholics. Before the protestant reformation, the society was mainly characterized by monarchy and practices of the Roman Catholic Church4.

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Ambitious political leaders used religious aspects and believe to extend their power and control. Martin Luther argued that the Bible was the central mode to discern God’s word and not the pope. This utterance certainly raised eyebrows in Rome. Luther insisted that no human authority can constraint another by conscience. He believed that only the Bible and the Holy Spirit can control the practices and mindset of another human being. By defying a hostile government, Luther’s reform movement relentlessly fought towards freedom and democracy. Protestant movement asserted the right to choose leaders and not to appoint. At the same time, the movement gave way for challenging leadership whenever you might not agree with. Luther helped to erode a belief that divine power is within monarchs through his media prints.

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This marked the beginning of American Revolution rallying colonies with the quote “There is no King, but King Jesus,” derived from the protestant reformation. Moreover, the confidence led to positive impact in other aspects of development including civil rights, economic and social enhancement. The movement is called reformation and not formation because it involved several revolutions in the society to incorporate the poor, middle class and those in authority10. The reforms helped in eradicating slavery which was exercised in most European Countries with the help of Church doctrines. All these aspects are key issues that are exercised in the modern era. Despite the benefits earned during and after the Reformation period, a lot of violence was witnessed among family members who disagreed on the basis of religious beliefs.

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The family members pitted one another on their difference in religion brought by the protests. The two sides treated each other as rivals based on their religious differences. This created conflict between parties in the community although it brought freedom and space for civil rights on worship. In another case, execution of Charles 1 in 1649 became a key element for more effort to be put in pushing for democracy and constitutional monarchy. Charles 1 taxed people unfairly using indulgence, imposed Pope’s liturgy in the nation and misused his role to oppress the poor. This kind of practices led to English civil wars in 1642 to 1651. There was a great rivalry between royalists and parliamentarians in England. Royalists were defeated and their leader Charles 1 was executed in 1649 thus making monarchy to be replaced with Commonwealth and later Protectorate which was under Oliver Cromwell in 1653 to 1659.

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