What Religious Denomination Was Born Out of the Reformation?

What Religious Denomination Was Born Out of the Reformation?

What Religious Denomination was Born Out of the Reformation? | Discover the Thriving Denomination Born from the Reformation

what religious denomination was born out of the reformation

The Protestant Reformation was a significant event in European history that began in the early 16th century. Evidently, it was a time of substantial change in the Christian church, marked by religious and political upheavals that had far-reaching consequences for Europe and the rest of the world. Christians were rejecting the corruption of the Catholic Church and discovering the truth of the scriptures for themselves. The development of the printing press meant the Bible was now being mass-produced in many common languages and available to the average man to read.

During this upheaval, remarkable religious denominations emerged, setting the stage for a new era in Christian worship, beliefs, practices, and traditions. Protestantism encompasses a range of denominations that diverged from the Roman Catholic Church and established their own theological views. Thereupon, the most prominent were Lutheranism, Calvinism (Reformed Church), Anglicanism, Anabaptism, and Presbyterianism.

In this article, we will uncover the answer to the question that has fascinated scholars and believers alike: “What religious denomination was born out of the Reformation?”. We will explore these religious denominations, their historical context, core beliefs, and their influence on other denominations. Read along as we touch on the origins and distinct characteristics of these denominations, so we can better appreciate the diversity of the Christian church and its ongoing impact on society.


During the 16th century, a movement known as the Protestant Reformation arose in Europe, challenging the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. Consequently, Protestant churches emerged as a direct result of this movement, driven by the belief that the Church had drifted away from the true teachings of Christ.

Spearheaded by renowned leaders such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Huldrych Zwingli, Protestants sought to reform the Church by returning to the Bible and rejecting conventional Catholic beliefs, establishing several new denominations across the globe.

The core beliefs of Protestantism are based on the “Five Solas,” which are:

  • Faith alone
  • Grace alone
  • Christ alone
  • Scripture alone
  • Glory to God alone

Protestants believe that believers can be justified by faith alone and that their salvation depends entirely on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Furthermore, the Bible is the sole authority for Christian living and rejects the Catholic Church’s teachings advocating the Pope’s infallibility.

They believe Christian worship should be simple and free from the excesses that characterized Catholic worship in the Middle Ages. Likewise, Protestants promote using vernacular languages in worship, enabling believers to understand the Scriptures better. In addition, they typically reject religious icons, statues, stained glass windows, and other symbols.

Protestantism encompasses various denominations, each with distinct beliefs and practices. Some of the most prominent Protestant denominations include Lutheranism, Calvinism, Anglicanism, and Presbyterianism. Still, all adhere to the core tenets of Protestantism. Today, Protestantism remains a diverse and rapidly growing Christian movement, with millions of followers across the globe.

protestant denominations

What religious denomination was born out of the Reformation? | Lutheranism

Lutheranism finds its roots in the teachings of Martin Luther, the renowned German theologian and reformer. Luther’s courageous actions, including his posting of the 95 Theses in 1517, catalyzed religious transformation during the Reformation.


  • Justification by faith alone. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace. It can be received through faith in Jesus Christ alone rather than through human effort or good works.
  • Authority of Scripture. The Bible is the ultimate source of divine revelation and guidance for faith and life. Moreover, they believe in the priesthood of all believers, affirming that every individual has direct access to God and can interpret Scripture for themselves.
  • Sacramental theology. Baptism is viewed as a means of grace through which individuals are united with Christ and incorporated into the community of believers. Likewise, the Lord’s Supper is seen as a sacred meal where the true presence of Christ is spiritually received.


  • Martin Luther. The pivotal figure of the Reformation, his courageous actions and theological writings laid the foundation for Lutheranism.
  • Philipp Melanchthon. A close collaborator of Luther, he played a crucial role in systematizing and promoting Lutheran theology, particularly through his contributions to the Augsburg Confession.
  • Johannes Bugenhagen, Justus Jonas, and Nicholas von Amsdorf


  • The Augsburg Confession, presented in 1530, serves as a key doctrinal statement for Lutheranism, outlining its beliefs and principles.
  • Lutheranism experienced significant growth and establishment as state churches in various countries, including Germany, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe.

Today, Lutheranism remains a vibrant and diverse denomination, with various Lutheran church bodies and traditions across different regions. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) are prominent examples in the United States, while the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) serves as a global communion bringing together Lutheran churches from around the world. Evidently, its commitment to grace, faith, and the centrality of Scripture resonates with millions of believers, inspiring worship, service, and engagement with the wider community.

What religious denomination was born out of the Reformation? | Calvinism

Calvinism, also known as Reformed theology, was developed from the teachings of John Calvin, a French theologian, pastor, and reformer who was a key figure during the Protestant Reformation.


  • Predestination. God has already predestined who will and will not be saved. Hence, the elects are chosen by God’s grace alone and not by anything they have done or could do. This belief is based on the biblical teachings of Romans 8:29-30, Ephesians 1:4-11, and Acts 13:48.
  • Sovereignty of God. God is in control of everything, including human actions and decisions. Thus, nothing happens outside God’s control; everything is part of God’s greater plan. This belief is based on the biblical teachings of Psalm 135:6, Isaiah 46:9-10, and Job 42:2.
  • Total Depravity. Calvinists assert that humans are born sinful and incapable of saving themselves.
  • Authority of scripture. The Bible is inerrant and infallible, without error or mistakes. Further, it is the ultimate authority for all matters of faith and practice. This belief is based on the biblical teachings of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Psalm 19:7-9, and John 17:17.
  • The Five Points of Calvinism. Summarized in the acronym TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, Perseverance of the Saints), outline key theological tenets of Calvinist belief.


  • John Calvin. The namesake and a key figure of Calvinism, whose writings and teachings laid the foundation for the development of Reformed theology.
  • Theodore Beza. A prominent successor of Calvin, he further developed and expanded Calvinist doctrines, solidifying their influence within the movement.


  • Calvinism emerged in the mid-16th century in Geneva, Switzerland, significantly impacted the Reformation, particularly in Switzerland, France, Scotland, and the Netherlands, and quickly gained traction throughout Europe.
  • Calvinism influenced the formation of many other Protestant denominations, including Presbyterianism, Congregationalism, and the Dutch Reformed Church. Moreover, it played a role in shaping the political landscape of Europe, with Calvinist leaders promoting the idea of a theocratic state.
  • Calvinist teachings profoundly impacted various aspects of society, including ethics, education, and governance, particularly in regions strongly influenced by Reformed theology.
  • One example of Calvinism’s influence on other denominations is the Puritan movement in England. The Puritans were a group of Protestants who sought to purify the Church of England from Catholic practices and beliefs. Accordingly, Calvinism heavily influenced them and significantly impacted American culture and politics.

Calvinism continues to have a significant presence worldwide, with Reformed and Presbyterian churches embodying its teachings and theological distinctiveness. Its enduring legacy prompts us to ponder the complex interplay between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Likewise, it invites us to engage in deep theological reflection.

What religious denomination was born out of the Reformation? | Anglicanism

The Church of England’s split from the Roman Catholic Church led to the formation of Anglicanism. However, Anglicanism represents a unique blend of Protestant and Catholic elements, which values tradition and the importance of the church community. It has influenced other denominations, such as the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada.


  • Scripture and Tradition. Anglicans uphold the authority of Scripture while recognizing the significance of tradition, particularly the teachings of the early Church Fathers and the Book of Common Prayer.
  • The Threefold Order of Ministry. They maintain a threefold order of ministry comprising bishops, priests, and deacons, tracing its roots back to the early Christian Church.
  • Via Media. Anglicanism embraces a “middle way” approach. Thus, they balance Protestant principles with Catholic traditions, aiming to maintain continuity with the historic Christian faith.


  • Thomas Cranmer. As Archbishop of Canterbury, he played a pivotal role in shaping the early stages of Anglicanism. Accordingly, his work on the Book of Common Prayer and liturgical reforms greatly influenced Anglican worship and theology.
  • Elizabeth I. Queen Elizabeth I’s reign was a defining period for Anglicanism. She established a religious settlement that accommodated both Protestant and Catholic sensibilities, solidifying Anglicanism as the established church in England.


  • Anglicanism originated in the 16th century during the English Church Reformation, primarily as a response to the religious and political landscape of the time.
  • The Book of Common Prayer, first published in 1549, serves as a cornerstone of Anglican liturgy and worship, encapsulating Anglican theology and practice.
  • The Anglican Communion is a global fellowship of autonomous churches that share a common heritage and are connected to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Anglicanism continues to evolve and engage with contemporary issues, embracing diversity and fostering dialogue among its members. In addition, they are actively involved in social justice initiatives, ecumenical dialogue, and the pursuit of unity amidst theological diversity.

What religious denomination was born out of the Reformation? | Anabaptism

Anabaptism brings a unique perspective that sets it apart from other denominations of the time. The movement influenced other denominations, such as the Mennonite and Amish communities, who practiced similar beliefs and customs.


  • Believer’s Baptism. Anabaptists advocated for adult baptism, considering it a personal, voluntary expression of faith rather than an infant baptism tied to societal or political structures.
  • Separation of Church and State. They promoted the idea of a voluntary church, separate from the control and influence of the state. Moreover, they emphasize the individual’s commitment to follow Christ in all aspects of life.
  • Nonviolence and Pacifism. They rejected violence, adhering to a commitment to nonviolence and the teachings of Jesus to love their enemies.


  • Conrad Grebel: Considered one of the key founders of Anabaptism. Accordingly, he played a crucial role in establishing the religious movement in Switzerland.
  • Menno Simons: After whom the Mennonite tradition is named, Simons provided significant leadership and theological guidance to the Anabaptist movement. Likewise, his writings and teachings influenced the development of Anabaptist theology.


  • Anabaptism emerged in the early years of the Reformation, primarily in Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands. Thereupon, it was distinguished by its emphasis on personal faith and discipleship, challenging the prevailing religious and societal norms of the time.
  • They faced severe persecution from Catholic and Protestant authorities, as their beliefs and practices threatened the existing religious and political order.
  • The movement splintered into various branches, such as the Mennonites, Hutterites, and Amish, each with distinct practices and interpretations of Anabaptist theology.

Anabaptism is a testament to the power of conviction and the pursuit of a faith grounded in personal commitment and communal accountability. Its story serves as a reminder that the Reformation was not a singular event but a complex movement that birthed a diverse array of denominations, each contributing to the rich tapestry of Christian history.

What religious denomination was born out of the Reformation? | Presbyterianism

Presbyterianism’s development can be traced back to the teachings of John Calvin and the Reformed tradition. Their influence can be seen in other denominations, such as the Congregationalists and some branches of the Anglican Church. The Presbyterian Church has significantly impacted the development of democracy, particularly in Scotland and the United States.


  • Governance by Elders. Presbyterianism is characterized by a system of church governance led by elders, elected representatives responsible for making decisions and guiding the local congregation.
  • Reformed Theology. They adhere to the principles of Reformed theology, emphasizing God’s sovereignty, the authority of Scripture, and the doctrines of grace.
  • Connectionalism. Presbyterianism fosters a sense of connection and interdependence among churches, with higher governing bodies providing oversight and coordination among congregations.


  • John Knox: Considered the founder of Presbyterianism, a Scottish theologian, and reformer who played a key role in shaping the movement in Scotland.
  • John Calvin: While primarily associated with Calvinism, his teachings and influence significantly impacted the development of Presbyterianism, particularly in Scotland and other regions.


  • Presbyterianism emerged in the 16th century, particularly in Scotland and Switzerland, as a response to the reforms initiated by Martin Luther and John Calvin.
  • The Westminster Confession of Faith and other confessional documents are central theological standards for many Presbyterian churches, outlining their beliefs and practices.
  • Presbyterianism’s commitment to education and scholarship has led to the establishment of numerous renowned theological seminaries and educational institutions.

Today, Presbyterianism is a global movement encompassing various Presbyterian and Reformed denominations worldwide. While diverse in practices and cultural expressions, these churches share a common commitment and a sense of connection and mutual accountability.


We have explored the captivating journey of the religious denomination born from the Reformation as we’ve discovered the answer to the question, “What religious denomination was born out of the Reformation?”. These denominations, collectively known as Protestantism, reshaped Europe’s religious, cultural, and political landscape, breaking the Catholic Church’s monopoly, the only church in Western Europe during that time, emphasizing individual faith and direct access to the Scriptures.

The impact of the Reformation extended far beyond religious realms. Moreover, it influenced the formation of nation-states and the pursuit of religious tolerance. As we reflect on the enduring significance of the Reformation and its denominational outcomes, it is crucial to recognize the rich diversity within Protestantism. Whereas each sect holds its theological nuances and contributions to the wider Christian faith.

Understanding the denominational landscape of the Reformation provides valuable insights into modern Christianity and fosters interdenominational dialogue. Indeed, by understanding the historical roots of our beliefs, we can cultivate greater understanding, respect, and unity among believers.

In the words of Martin Luther, “Peace, if possible, truth at all costs”. Thus, let us embrace this call by engaging in meaningful conversations, bridging divides, and appreciating the richness of our diverse Christian heritage. By pursuing a deeper understanding of our faith and its relevance today, we can strive for peace and truth in a world that needs it more than ever.

How did the Catholic Church respond to the Protestant Reformation?

How did the Catholic Church respond to the Protestant Reformation?

The Catholic Church’s Response to the Protestant Reformation: A Comprehensive Overview

The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century was a major challenge to the Catholic Church’s authority and power, which marked a significant turning point in the history of the Christian Church. Led by figures such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, Protestants challenged the authority of the Roman Catholic Church and its teachings, leading to a period of religious upheaval and division. How did the Catholic Church respond to the Protestant Reformation, then?

How did the Catholic Church respond to the Protestant Reformation?
Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms (1521). The Diet of Worms (an imperial assembly at the city of Worms, Germany) was called to deal with Luther. It has come to be synonymous with Luther’s vision and the Protestant Reformation.

The Church Officials launched a series of initiatives and reforms, collectively known as the Catholic Counter-Reformation, in an attempt to reassert its authority and maintain its influence.

In this article, we will explore the Catholic Church’s response, examining its various initiatives and reforms and their impact on the Church and Christian history. We will also analyze this response through a Calvinistic lens, exploring the theological differences between the two perspectives as we highlight the historical significance of this period.

The Context of the Protestant Reformation

The Protestant Reformation was a complex and multifaceted movement that emerged in Europe in the early 16th century. Many factors contributed to the Reformation. This included the 1517 Sale of Indulgences, theological disputes, social and economic change, and political instability. Furthermore, the Reformers reproved certain Catholic doctrines and practices and desired to return to what they perceived as the pure, uncorrupted Christian faith of the early church.

Some key figures and movements of the Protestant Reformation include:

  • Martin Luther, his Ninety-five Theses, and the Lutheran tradition
  • John Calvin and the Reformed Tradition
  • Huldrych Zwingli and the Swiss Reformation
  • The Anabaptist movement
  • The English Reformation was sparked by William Tyndale (Who translated the Bible into English for the first time.)

How did the Catholic Church respond to the Protestant Reformation? In response to the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church initially reacted with resistance and repression. Eventually, they recognized the need for reform within their own ranks. Let us explore these initiatives.

How did the Catholic Church respond to the Protestant Reformation: An Overview

The Catholic Church’s response to the Protestant Reformation can be divided into three broad categories:

  1. Doctrinal Reaffirmation. The Church Leaders sought to reaffirm and defend its theological doctrines against Protestant criticisms.
  2. Structural Reforms. They made significant reforms to its governance and structure to counteract some Protestant objections.
  3. Evangelization and Missionary Work. The Church Officials launched an aggressive evangelization and missionary campaign to reassert its influence in areas where Protestantism had gained a foothold.

Doctrinal Reaffirmation

One major criticism by Protestant reformers was that Catholic Church had strayed from the teachings of the Bible and the early Christian Church. Consequently, they launched a series of initiatives to reaffirm their theological doctrines and defend them against Protestant criticisms. These initiatives included:

  • The Council of Trent. Held between 1545 and 1563, it was a significant event in the Catholic Church’s response to the Protestant Reformation. The Council affirmed the Church’s traditional doctrines and practices. This includes the belief in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, the use of indulgences, and the veneration of the saints. Furthermore, it condemned Protestant beliefs, such as sola scriptura (the belief that the Bible alone is the sole authority for Christian doctrine) and sola fide (the belief that faith alone, not good works, leads to salvation).
  • The Index of Forbidden Books. In 1559, the Catholic Church established the Index of Forbidden Books. This contains a list of books that Catholics were forbidden to read because they were deemed heretical or dangerous. Many of the books on the Index were written by Protestant reformers, and the list remained in effect until 1966.
  • The Roman Catechism. In 1566, they published the Roman Catechism, a comprehensive summary of Catholic theology and practice. Accordingly, the Catechism provided Catholics with a clear and authoritative guide to their faith and to counteract Protestant teachings.

Structural Reforms

In addition to reaffirming its religious doctrines, the Church Offices also made significant reforms to its governance and structure. In an attempt to address some of the criticisms leveled against them by Protestantism, they established the following:

  • Reform of the Papacy. The Catholic Church recognized that the power and influence of the Pope had become a liability. Likewise, some critics assert that the Pope had become too corrupt and worldly. In response, the Church sought to reform the Papacy, emphasizing the spiritual rather than the political power and authority of the Pope.
  • The Establishment of Seminaries. To combat the spread of Protestantism, they established religious schools and seminaries to train priests. Thus, they focused on education to ensure they equipped themselves to defend the Catholic faith and teachings.
  • The Establishment of the Jesuits. In 1540, they established the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits. This new religious order actively devotes itself to evangelization, education, and missionary work. The Jesuits played a crucial role in several aspects of church life and its response to the Protestant Reformation. They traveled to Protestant territories and engaged in debates and discussions with Protestant reformers. They also founded numerous catholic schools and universities, including Georgetown University in the United States.

Evangelization and Missionary Work

How did the Catholic Church respond to the Protestant Reformation? Aside from reaffirming their doctrines and reforming their governance, they also launched an aggressive evangelization campaign and missionary work. To reassert their influence in areas where Protestantism had gained a foothold, they initiated the following campaigns:

  • The Council of the Indies. A governing body, established in 1524 to oversee missionary activities in the New World. The Council played a key role in evangelizing indigenous peoples in the Americas, with Catholic missionaries working to convert and baptize millions of people.
  • The Propaganda Fide. In 1622, the Catholic Church established the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, also known as the Propaganda Fide. The Congregation coordinated Catholic missionary efforts worldwide, which played a crucial role in spreading Catholicism to Asia and Africa.
  • The Establishment of New Religious Orders. They also established a number of new religious orders devoted to missionary work, including the Franciscans and the Dominicans. These orders traveled to remote and dangerous parts of the world, including Asia and Africa, to evangelize and convert non-Christians.

A Calvinistic Analysis of the Catholic Church’s Response

Calvinism emphasizes the importance of faith alone (sola fide) and scripture alone (sola scriptura). From a Calvinistic perspective, the Catholic Church’s response to the Protestant Reformation and its efforts were misguided for several reasons:

1. Failure to address the fundamental theological issues

At the heart of the conflict between Protestantism and Catholicism were significant theological differences. Calvinists believed in the doctrine of sola scriptura, while Catholics placed equal emphasis on tradition and the authority of the Church. Calvinists also believed in the doctrine of predestination, which states that God has preordained who will be saved and who will be damned, while Catholics rejected this doctrine.

From a Calvinistic perspective, the Catholic Church’s response failed to address the root causes of the challenges posed by the Reformation. Instead, it focused on superficial reforms that did not go far enough in addressing the core issues that led to the split in the first place.

2. Overemphasis on external forms of religious practice

The Catholic Church overemphasizes external forms of religious practice. This includes the veneration of saints and the use of sacraments, rather than focusing on the internal transformation of the heart through faith and the vision of Christ.

3. Resistance to the idea of individual interpretation of scripture

The use of the Inquisition and the Index of Forbidden Books represented an unjust and oppressive attempt to silence dissent and control thought; further upholding the authority and powers of the church and its tradition.

4. Lack of transparency and accountability in the church hierarchy

The church hierarchy lacked transparency and accountability, contributing to the corruption and abuse of church practice that fueled Protestant criticism.

Rather than engaging in meaningful dialogue and attempting to understand the concerns of Protestants, the Catholic Church sought to silence them.

The Legacy of the Catholic Church’s Response

The Catholic Church’s response to the Protestant Reformation had long-lasting effects on the Church and Christian history as a whole. Some of the key legacies of the Counter-Reformation include:

  • Reforms within the Church. The Counter-Reformation led to significant reforms within the Catholic Church, including a renewed emphasis on education, a focus on personal purity, and a greater emphasis on the role of the laity in the Church.
  • Increased centralization of power. The Counter-Reformation also led to increased centralization of power within the Catholic Church. The Papal Authority and the hierarchy of the Church became more powerful and less tolerant of dissent.
  • Impact on interfaith dialogue. Today, we can still see the legacy of the Catholic Church’s response to the Protestant Reformation in its approach to interreligious dialogue. While the Catholic Church has made significant efforts to reconcile with Protestant churches and other Christian denominations, some still sense that the Church sees itself as the one true faith and that other perspectives are less valid.


In conclusion to the question – How did the Catholic Church respond to the Protestant Reformation?, the Catholic Church’s response to the Reformation was a complex and diverse series of initiatives and reforms that sought to maintain the Church’s influence in the face of significant challenges. From a Calvinistic standpoint, the Church’s response failed to address fundamental theological differences and sought to silence dissent.

The legacy of the Catholic Church’s response can still be seen today in the Church’s approach to interfaith dialogue and its emphasis on the authority of the Pope and the hierarchy of the Church. While the Counter-Reformation was undoubtedly a significant moment in the history of the Church, its impact on Christian theology and practice continues to be debated and discussed by scholars, theologians, and spiritual leaders today.

Moreover, as we look back on this historical period, it is essential to consider the ongoing relevance of these issues in modern times. How do faith leaders navigate tensions between tradition and reform? What common ground can both Protestants and Catholics find in fighting against the rising threat of modernism, “woke” ideologies, and secular humanism? These are important questions that continue to challenge and inspire Christians today.

Points to ponder:

As we delve into the depths of history, let us remember the words of Jesus, who said, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:25-34

Let His words remind us that our world today is steeped in growing darkness and desperately needs the light of the Gospel. While it is imperative to learn from the past and prepare for the future, we must not lose sight of the present. And in the midst of our learning, it’s essential that we seek to put God first in everything we do. The Scriptures teach us that when we put God first in our lives, we gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and embrace the truth of living as individuals created in His image.

How Did Martin Luther Start the Protestant Reformation?

How Did Martin Luther Start the Protestant Reformation?

The Protestant Reformation was a transformative religious, political, and cultural movement that altered the course of European history in the 16th century. At its heart was a German monk named Martin Luther, whose ideas sparked a spiritual revolution that eventually gave rise to new forms of Christianity.

how did martin luther start the protestant reformation

His defiance against the Catholic Church and his enduring legacy are closely intertwined with those of John Calvin and other key figures in the Reformation movement. This article aims to provide an in-depth analysis of Martin Luther’s journey, his principles, accomplishments, and lasting influence on the Reformation landscape.

The Making of a Reformer: Martin Luther’s Journey

Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483, in Eisleben, Germany. He came from a humble background, with his father working as a miner and his mother as a housewife. Luther’s parents wanted him to become a lawyer, so they sent him to the University of Erfurt for higher education. However, a life-changing event occurred in 1505 when Luther was caught in a thunderstorm and vowed to become a monk if he survived. True to his word, he joined the Augustinian Order and became a monk.

As a monk, Luther grappled with personal struggles, primarily the fear of not attaining salvation despite his religious devotion. His search for answers eventually led him to the doctrine of “sola fide” or faith alone, which held that salvation could only be achieved through faith in Jesus Christ, rather than through good works or following the dictates of the Catholic Church. This belief would later become one of the core tenets of the Reformation.

The Catalyst: Luther’s Ninety-five Theses

In 1517, the sale of indulgences by the Catholic Church to raise funds for the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome stirred controversy. These indulgences granted people the forgiveness of sins and were sold as a means of reducing their time in purgatory. Luther, however, saw the sale of indulgences as a corrupt practice that exploited the faithful and undermined the true meaning of repentance.

On October 31, 1517, Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, which challenged the Church’s authority to grant indulgences and called for reform. The theses were quickly disseminated thanks to the printing press, causing a stir among the clergy and laity alike. This bold act marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

Standing Firm Against the Catholic Church

Luther’s critique of indulgences and his call for reform did not go unnoticed by the Catholic Church. In response, Pope Leo X issued the Exsurge Domine papal bull in 1520, which condemned 41 of Luther’s propositions and demanded that he recant or face ex-communication. Luther refused to back down, famously burning the papal bull in public and maintaining his stance at the Diet of Worms in 1521.

Although Luther was excommunicated and declared an outlaw, he found support in Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony. The prince protected Luther and allowed him to continue his work in relative safety.

Shaping the Lutheran Church: Foundational Principles and Accomplishments

As the Reformation progressed, Martin Luther worked tirelessly to establish a new religious doctrine and organize a church that would later become known as the Lutheran Church. His teachings were grounded in three fundamental principles: sola fide (faith alone), sola scriptura (scripture alone), and sola gratia (grace alone). These principles directly challenged the Catholic Church’s teachings and authority.

One of Luther’s most significant accomplishments was his translation of the Bible into German, which made the sacred text accessible to the common people. This translation not only facilitated the spread of Reformation ideas but also contributed to the development of the modern German language. Luther’s efforts to organize and expand the Lutheran Church resulted in the establishment of new religious institutions, practices, and a distinctive liturgy.

Martin Luther’s Influence on John Calvin and the Reformation Movement

The relationship between Martin Luther and John Calvin, another prominent figure in the Reformation movement, was one of mutual influence and shared goals. Although they never met, their works and ideas helped to shape each other’s theological perspectives. A comparison of their doctrines reveals similarities and differences, with both emphasizing the importance of faith and the authority of Scripture, while diverging on issues such as predestination and the organization of the church.

The Reformation movement was not limited to Luther and Calvin; it involved a diverse cast of key players, including Huldrych Zwingli, John Knox, and Thomas Cranmer. Together, these figures contributed to the religious, political, and social changes that swept across Europe in the 16th century.


The enduring legacy of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation continues to influence contemporary Christian thought and practice. Luther’s defiance against the Catholic Church and his revolutionary ideas contributed to the emergence of new Christian denominations, the democratization of faith-based knowledge, and the gradual decline of the Roman Church’s political power. The principles of the Reformation, such as the emphasis on faith, the Five Solas, and the individual’s relationship with God, remain relevant in the modern world.

To delve deeper into the subject, readers are encouraged to explore the life and works of John Calvin at JohnCalvin.com. Understanding the complex interplay between the ideas and actions of the Reformation’s key figures, including Martin Luther and John Calvin, helps us appreciate the significance of this historical event and its impact on the world today.

Reformed Theology is the simple yet life-transforming truth of biblical Christianity

Reformed Theology is the simple yet life-transforming truth of biblical Christianity

Serving the Lord Jesus is truly an amazing journey, full of happiness, challenges, and adventure. It is a life that teaches us to focus on things of eternal value and to worship the almighty God of the Bible. But the craziness of today’s culture relentlessly promotes a self-centered life that is obsessed with temporal things. It causes people to listen with their eyes and think with their feelings. They exchange the worship of the almighty God for the worship of created things they can see and touch. Pleasure, pride, and self-gratification drive them forward to search for new ways to experience more and more of it.

Look at the current gender identity movement. Clearly, it is a perverse doctrine of Satan. And yet, in a few short years, millions of people, companies, and yes, even churches, now bow before it. The result can be seen in news headlines everywhere: broken people, hyper-sexuality aimed at children, shattered families, a rising epidemic of teenage suicide, and drug addiction. Make no mistake, sin is a brutal killer.

In contrast, Reformed Theology is the vibrant, inspiring, life-giving teaching of the Bible. It is a God-centered theology that places the worship of God as the primary pursuit of human existence. It places our focus first on the doctrine of God, his character, and his nature.

By focusing on God, we discover more about ourselves as men and women created in his image. We are not random, gender-fluid animals. We are human beings–men and women created in the image of God–who are dead in sin and need to be redeemed. The Scriptures teach us that through faith in Jesus alone we can be redeemed from spiritual death (Eph 2:8); we can be born again to live a life that God prepared for us since the beginning of time. This spiritual life can’t be earned by how good you are, purchased with money, or given by anyone but Jesus, our Redeemer.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Eph 2:8-9

How can you expect to dwell with God forever if you so neglect and forsake him here?– Jonathan Edwards

Reformed Theology stands on the foundation of Scripture as God’s inspired Word and divine roadmap for life, salvation, and eternal truth. It considers the teachings of the Bible as the highest authority, higher than the authority of any person, church, or government. This grinds painfully against today’s secular and corrupt religious world, yet it is absolutely true.

At the core of Reformed Theology is the gospel (the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection). At the heart of the gospel, is Jesus Christ. Tracing its roots in the teachings of the early church and the apostles, Reformed Theology teaches that the Christian life is one of saving grace, faith, and God’s sovereign power over all things: a life that glorifies God in everything, every day. How we talk, pray, worship, conduct ourselves, and treat others should all reflect the true teachings of the Bible. We are called to live as lights in a dark world. To live as servants of God and not as servants of self … just like Jesus.

If you’re someone who desires to be transformed from the crazy of this world (like I was), I challenge you to read on. Study the heart-changing doctrines of Reformed Theology and experience the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. Let the pure, simple truth of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection set you free.

Calvin Bryant
Founder, JohnCalvin.com
Post tenebras lux (after darkness, light)

Foundation Truths

Foundation Truths

God’s Sovereignty & the Scriptures

What is Reformed Theology?

– Part One

What do you think of when you hear the words Reformed Theology? Perhaps you remember learning about a monk named Martin Luther nailing a list on a door because he was upset at the Roman Catholic Church. Or perhaps you have heard about the five solas of the Reformation: by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide), in Christ alone (solus Christus), as revealed by Scripture alone (sola scriptura), to the glory of God alone (soli Deo gloria). Or maybe you draw a blank?

In this four-part series, we seek to answer the question, ‘What is Reformed Theology?’ by walking you through the key themes, ideas, figures, and historical milestones of what we call Reformed Theology. We want you to get a basic lay of the land so you can know and love the richness of the historic Reformed faith and the power of the gospel found within its teachings.

Foundational Truths of Reformed Theology

There are many places to start an introduction to Reformed Theology. It is important to grasp what is known as the doctrines of grace (AKA the five points of Calvinism or TULIP). It is good to understand what theologians call the ordo salutis (Latin for the order by which people are saved from sin and death). And it is proper to learn and digest what the big conflicts were between the Medieval Church and the Reformers. We hope to begin scratching the surface on all these points throughout this series, but here in part one, we want to lay out the foundational framework that underlies Reformed Theology.

If you take away anything from this series, it should be these two principles: first, God is in control of all things (this is sometimes referred to as God’s sovereignty or providence); second, God’s word contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments is the only ultimate guide for our lives. In these two truths, you will find the crux of all Reformed Theology—who has authority and by what standard is that authority tested.

God’s Sovereignty

Reformed thought puts God’s glory at the center of all things. God has manifested His glory in all of creation. All you have to do is look up at the sky, witness a gorgeous sunset, or watch a nature documentary to begin to see it.

All living things exist to glorify their creator. Man particularly was created in God’s image to bring Him glory. Christ died, was buried, and rose again to save sinners, but this too was primarily a testament to the wondrous glory of the Triune God.

Part of recognizing this glory is properly grasping God’s authority over all things. God controls time, space, reality, your life, the lives of the people around you, the movement of animals, the setting of the sun, the gravitational pull of the earth, the flow of the ocean waves, the paths of tornados, and on and on. Anything you can see, feel, hear, taste, smell, think, or know is governed by God. He is the supreme ruler. He has complete sovereignty over us in such a way that the Scriptures presume not a hair can fall from our heads without His knowledge and will (Lk 12:7, Lk. 21:18).

The Reformers deeply understood this and emphasized it in their teachings. Reformed Theology declares Christ’s Lordship over every aspect of life, not just salvation. This is good news. God holds everything in the palm of His hand, therefore we can truly rest. We can trust all of our lives to Him. We can put our worries, cares, and decisions in the hands of a good and righteous king. By His grace He saved us, and by His providence He sustains us.

The Authority of the Scriptures

God’s authority over all things means that we are to obey Him in all things. Fortunately, God has not left us without a word from Him. In the Old and New Testaments, we can find everything we need for salvation, obedience, and the glorifying of God every day.

Scripture is the standard by which we must measure everything. The Reformers came against a church that taught that the church itself was supreme, that it had ultimate authority over men, that it was the arbiter between right and wrong, and that it and only it could discern God’s will whether or not it matched up with the Scriptures. The Reformers put that church in its proper place and put the Bible back in the hands of the people. They said to people everywhere, “This is the Word of the Lord, live by it and nothing else.”

This is not to say that the Church as an institution is not important or that church traditions do not rightly shape and guide Christians. But the institutional Church and her traditions must come under the authority of the Scriptures.

The Scriptures are completely unique. Reformed Theology teaches that the scriptures were written by men through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures are God’s spoken word breathed out by Him to us. No church confession, creed, or teaching—no matter how good—can attain the status of the breathed-out word of God. In it we find God’s plan for redemption, we see the blueprints for God’s created order, we discover who Christ is, and we can finally begin to know truth. Because of its uniqueness, Reformed Theology teaches that we are to test everything—even its own teachings—by what God has said to us in His word.

In the Reformation period, there was a Latin phrase used that you ought to remember: Ad Fontes. This meant ‘back to the sources.’ The Reformers called for a renewed subscription to the Bible as the primary authority over a Christian. This means that the Hebrew and Greek scriptures, through a reliable translation, are to guide the Church and its members through all of life. It is the authority by which we are to judge all other authorities. We must always go back to it. This is at the heart of Reformed Theology—who has authority and by what standard is that authority tested?


So, to get a kick start on learning Reformed Theology, read your bible. Drink in the Word of God daily. Learn, understand, and apply His teachings to your life. Taste and see the richness of His love by resting in His providence.

In part two, we will provide a skeletal history of the Reformation, its key leaders, the major branches of Reformed thought, and some of its written confessions. We hope by reviewing the happenings of the 16th and 17th centuries, we can begin to see the tested truthfulness of the Reformed faith and discover why it matters for us today.

In parts three and four, we will dive into two big Reformed distinctives:

  1. Reformed soteriology – a theological term referring to the doctrine of how we are saved by God.
  2. The Reformed doctrine of worship – i.e., how we are to properly respond to God’s salvation.

The great reformed theologian John Calvin taught that on these two distinctives rest the whole of the Reformed faith. He writes:

“If it be inquired, then, by what things chiefly the Christian religion has a standing existence amongst us and maintains its truth, it will be found that the following two not only occupy the principal place, but comprehend under them all the other parts, consequently the whole substance of Christianity, viz., a knowledge, first, of the mode in which God is duly worshiped; and, secondly, of the source from which salvation is to be obtained. When these are kept out of view, though we may glory in the name of Christians, our profession is empty and vain” (Calvin, The Necessity of Reforming the Church).

We pray that by examining these, you will have a closer allegiance to Christ, a greater love for God’s word, and an increasing desire to submit to Him and live for His glory.

The Beginnings

The Beginnings

The Reformation, Martin Luther & John Calvin

What is Reformed Theology?

– Part Two

When we said in part one that we would give a skeletal history of the Reformation, we really meant bare bones. The Reformation was one of the most consequential events in modern history with long-lasting effects on theology, politics, international relations, economics, and more. It was a significant movement that spanned a few centuries. Ph.D. students, historians, and theologians have yet to discover all the wealth of knowledge and repercussions of the Reformation.

We will sketch some of the Reformation’s theological footprints and leave the rest for you to discover on your own. Throughout part two, for the sake of brevity, we will be name-dropping notable Reformed theologians and moving on. Take this as an invitation to google them and dive into the richness of our Reformed heritage.

The Beginnings of Reformed Theology

The beginning of the Reformation era is popularly dated October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther posted his charges—commonly referred to as 95 Theses—on the door of the Roman Catholic Church in Wittenburg, Germany. There is no debate that this sparked a global movement to break from the corrupted Roman Church and get Christians back to the simple truths of the Bible. However, there were rumblings of Reformation for centuries leading up to 1517.

One could write libraries on the figures leading up to Luther, but there are two men worth mentioning briefly: John Wycliffe and John Hus. They both fought for Reformation a century before Luther. During the time when the Bible was only available in Latin, Wycliffe was passionate about translating the Scriptures into English for common use. He was named a heretic and his translation of the New Testament was banned from circulation. Hus publicly condemned the practice of selling indulgences (these were “merits of favor” one could buy from the church to secure personal salvation). He preached the Bible faithfully and explained the moral failings of the Roman Church. He was executed and killed as a heretic. These men paved the way for the giants who later challenged the authority of the Pope and taught ordinary people the word of God.

The Giants

We couldn’t do an overview of the Reformation without discussing the teachings of Martin Luther and John Calvin. These men are arguably the most influential Reformation-era theologians.

Martin Luther

In the 95 Theses, Luther, like Hus, taught that a Christian’s salvation did not depend on the purchase of “merits of favor” from the Church but was secured through Christ alone. Luther was convinced that man could not be saved through any type of merit or effort but only by the act of a gracious God. In his most important work, The Bondage of the Will, Luther argues that man’s will is not ‘free’ to choose God because left to himself man loves sin and death. Luther firmly believed that God freely gives His mercy and Spirit to man so that he may love goodness and life. We are never left to ourselves. Luther writes,

“I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want “free-will” to be given me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavour after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground; but because even were there no dangers. I should still be forced to labour with no guarantee of success. But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. Furthermore, I have the comfortable certainty that I please God, not by reason of the merit of my works, but by reason of His merciful favour promised to me; so that, if I work too little, or badly, He does not impute it to me, but with fatherly compassion pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying of all the saints in their God,” (Luther, The Bondage of the Will. Grand Rapids: Revell, 1957, 313-314).

John Calvin

Calvin is famous for having a whole system of theology named after him. Calvinism taught that God predestined all happenings of history, including who would ‘choose’ to serve Him. Calvin never shied away from people’s concerns that predestination would imply a mean and cruel God. Instead, Calvin taught that predestination displayed God’s glory and mercy. He rightly believed that unrighteous man had no right to question the acts of a righteous and holy God.

Calvin was a lawyer and a pastor with a heart for the layman. He wrote his most famous work, Institutes of the Christian Religion, not as a theological magnum opus but as an ordinary guide to help the everyday Christian understand what the Bible teaches about what man is to believe about God and what God requires of man.

Today, Calvin’s teachings are often distilled to the five points of Calvinism. These are also known as the ‘doctrines of Grace’ acronymized as TULIP:

  1. T – Total Depravity – man by nature is sinful from birth
  2. U – Unconditional Election – man cannot earn his way into the family of God
  3. L – Limited Atonement – God in His wisdom and mercy chose a specific people to save
  4. I – Irresistible Grace – man cannot resist the call of the Holy Spirit
  5. P – Perseverance of the Saints – God will not lose any of His people

These doctrines are true and beautiful, but they do not begin to scratch the surface of Calvin’s teachings. During his time in Geneva, Switzerland, Calvin wrote commentaries and preached through a plethora of Bible passages. He rebuked the abuses of the Roman Church. He designed and supported Christian governments, churches, and societies. And he left a treasure-trove of written work for us to plumb through.

Over and over, Calvin teaches that all of life is under God’s authority. In the Institutes he writes,

“The sum of the whole is this–since the will of God is said to be the cause of all things, all the counsels and actions of men must be held to be governed by his providence; so that he not only exerts his power in the elect, who are guided by the holy spirit, but also forces the reprobate to do him service,” (Calvin, Institutes, Book 1.18.2).

Not Just Luther and Calvin

We would be remiss if we didn’t direct you to the works of Martin Bucer, John Knox, Ulrich Zwingli, Petrus van Mastricht, Francis Turretin, the Puritans, and more modern theologians like Herman Bavinck and our own century’s R.C. Sproul and Sinclair ​​Ferguson. These men are just drops in a bucket full of leaders and preachers we are blessed to stand upon.

As we said before, the Reformation was a huge movement with many branches and it’s hard to find an end date. Some date an ending at the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, which ended the so-called Thirty Years’ War of Religion, but this doesn’t account for the decades of reform that followed 1648. There is another Latin phrase from this time that you should remember: ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda, the church reformed, always reforming.

The Providential Age

The Reformation launched a special time of faithfulness. Some call this a Providential Age. A time when interest in proper Bible translation came at the exact moment of the development of the printing press. Bibles were translated for the first time in people’s own languages and then mass produced and distributed so that the people of God could know firsthand the promises of God found in His word.

Bible reading and literacy led churches to write biblical confessions like the German Helvetic Confessions and the Dutch Three Forms of Unity. Perhaps of most note for us, is the English Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). Formed by a group of delegates known as the Westminster Divines in 1643, the WCF—along with its larger and shorter catechisms and book of church order—has become known as the jewel of the Reformation. It clearly distilled the truths of the Bible and the teachings of the Reformation into a clear and succinct guide for the aid of any church in the faithful proclamation of Christ.


But why does this all matter? Who cares what people in the 15th-17th centuries thought? Well, for one thing, no one today is unaffected by the impact of the Reformation. You cannot live in the modern world without breathing in the air left behind by this social movement. But on a deeper level, we should care because there is no such thing as an isolated Christian.

God designed us for communion with Him and other Christians. We cannot truly understand His word apart from His church. We learn more fully about Him through the study of the works of the brothers (and sisters) that came before us. The Reformation was a providential age of clarity and rich explanation of biblical truth, it is wise to sit humbly at the feet of the preachers and teachers of that time to more faithfully love God.

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