The Protestant Reformation, often referred to simply as the Reformation, was the schism within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Müntzer, Huldrych Zwingli and other early Protestant Reformers. Martin Luther is widely acknowledged to have started the Reformation with his 1517 work The Ninety-Five Theses. The Roman Catholic Church responded with a Counter-Reformation initiated by the Council of Trent.
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- Why, for instance, did Martin Luther succeed, whereas other important rebels against the medieval church — like John Huss — fail? Well, Luther was successful because printing had been developed by the time he advanced his cause. So his good earthy writings were put into pamphlets and spread so far and wide that the church officials couldn't have stopped the Protestant Reformation even if they had burned Luther at the stake.
- Isaac Asimov in "Science, Technology and Space: The Isaac Asimov Interview" by Pat Stone, Mother Earth News, (October 1980).
- Aniconism is a picture theory under reverse conditions and usually reflects a negative experience with pictures. In the Reformation, text and picture competed with one other as different religious media, in a turn again Catholic visual politics. The Counter-Reformation above all used the weapons of a re-catholicized visual politics that transformed the space of the church into a theatre of heaven. The church directed this strategy against the private reading of the bible propagated by the Reformation. In modern secular society, religious pictures lost their old credibility, which also damaged their status as works of art. So even within the same religious tradition pictures were subject to historical change.
- The hinges on which the controversy turns are these: first, in their contending that the form of the Church is always visible and apparent; and, secondly, in their placing this form in the see of the Church of Rome and its hierarchy. We, on the contrary, maintain, both that the Church may exist without any apparent form, and, moreover, that the form is not ascertained by that external splendour which they foolishly admire, but by a very different mark, namely, by the pure preaching of the word of God, and the due administration of the sacraments.
- It has often been said that a reformation should begin with each man reforming himself. That, however, is not what actually happened, for the reformation produced a hero who paid God dearly enough for his position as hero. By joining up with him directly people buy cheap, indeed at bargain prices, what he had paid for so dearly; but they do not buy the highest of all things.
- The Present Age, by Søren Kierkegaard, 1846, Dru translation 1962, p. 56-57
- The league at Allstedt wanted to establish this principle, Omnia sunt communia, ‘All property should be held in common’ and should be distributed to each according to his needs, as the occasion required. Any prince, count, or lord who did not want to do this, after first being warned about it, should be beheaded or hanged.
- Thomas Müntzer in Revelation and Revolution: Basic Writings of Thomas Müntzer (1993), p. 200
- The Catholic Church was derived from three sources. Its sacred history was Jewish, its theology was Greek, its government and canon law were, at least indirectly, Roman. The Reformation rejected the Roman elements, softened the Greek elements, and greatly strengthened the Judaic elements. It thus co-operated with the nationalist forces which were undoing the work of social cohesion which had been effected first by the Roman Empire and then by the Roman Church.
- Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy (1946), Introduction.
- "Iconoclasm was the central sacrament of the reform," states Eamon Duffy. It is an assertion that is more provocative than strictly accurate, especially in its dismissive use of the term "sacrament" in association with the Anglican Church, but many historians have persuasively presented iconoclastic extremism as a defining factor in the English Reformation. The long struggle over "images" had broad and deep connections with the transformation of English society and the ideologies of selfhood, identity, gender, and sexuality that governed, or as Louis Althusser puts it, "interpelated", men and women into the grand narrative of their culture. Today, some may say the picture of the world advanced by the reformers was maybe no less false, the idolatry of the Word no less pernicious than the idolatry of the Image. Yet Aston confesses that while she believes that historians are "not supposed to take sides," she finds it hard to "sympathize with the reformer's zeal for destruction. Doing without images is one thing, annihilating them is another. Destruction may be exhilarating, but it has an eventual fall-out which is the opposite of life-enhancing."
- Gary Waller, “The Virgin Mary in Late Medieval and Early Modern English Literature and Popular Culture”, Cambridge University Press, (Jan 20, 2011), p. 4
- Internet Archive of Related Texts and Documents
- 16th Century Reformation Reading Room: Extensive online resources, Tyndale Seminary
- The Reformation Collection From the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress
- An ecumenical official valuation by Lutherans and Catholics 500 years later