Martin Luther and John Calvin were both very important leaders of the ProtestantReformation. Although they were both against the Roman Catholic Church, they brought aboutMartin Luther founded the group that are today known as Lutherans. He was ordaineda priest in 1507.
He dealt with questions dealing with the structure of the church and with itsmoral values. These questions were important in Luther’s eyes, but the most important was howto find favor with God. Luther tried to pray, fast, and repent, but he never felt self-satisfaction.
He eventually concluded that God’s love was not a prize or a reward to be earned or won, but agift to be accepted.
Luther further concluded that until man stops trying to achieve God’s favorthrough his own achievements he cannot truly understand God’s grace. Luther also had the ideathat one did not need a priest to talk to God, he believed that one could pray and repent withoutthe help of anyone else. This was the idea for which Luther became famous.
In 1517, Luther was involved in a controversy which involved indulgences.
Indulgenceswere the idea that a person could donate money to a worthy cause in exchange for forgivenessof their sins. Luther opposed this idea and stated his beliefs in his Ninety-Five Thesis, which heposted on the castle door in Wittenberg, Germany. In 1519, Luther had a debate in Leipzig with Johann Eck, a Roman Catholic theologian. During this debate, Luther denied the supremacy of the Pope and stated that church councilsIn 1521, Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X.
Luther was then ordered toappear before a council which demanded that he retract his teachings. Luther intern stated thatunless he was inspired to do so by scripture he would not “since it is neither safe nor right to goPossible the most important contribution of Luther to society was his translation of theBible into German. This made it possible for those who were not fluent in Greek to study theWord of God. Luther also wrote another influential work, Small Catechism of 1529, whichwas also known as the layman’s Bible.
It summarized Christian beliefs into clear, simplelanguage and told how they should live. During the Reformation, Luther discovered that he had founded a new church. Hecomplained that his name should not be given to a group whose name should only be taken fromChrist; but Lutherans still believe in the doctrines he originated. John Calvin teachings were especially influential in Switzerland, England, Scotland, andcolonial North America.
Calvin’s followers in France were known as the Huguenots, and inEngland they were know as the Puritans. During the Reformation, the people were insisting that anyone, not just the hierarchy, beinvolved in political and religious policy making. This inspired Calvin’s teachings. The Calvinistsdeveloped political theories that supported constitutional government, representativegovernment, the right of people to change their government, and the separation of civil andchurch government.
The Calvanists originally intended these ideas to apply to the aristocracy,but democracy eventually arose in England and America. Calvin’s basic religious beliefs were the superiority of faith over good works, universalpriesthood of all believers, and the Bible as the basis of all Christian teachings. The concept ofuniversal priesthood was that all believers were considered priests. This was unlike the RomanCatholic Church which had various ranks of priests.
Calvin also believed that men could only be saved by the grace of God. He believedthat only the Elect would be saved and that no one knew who the Elect were. He also believedin Predestination, which is the idea that your entire life is already planned for you. Many of Calvin’s ideas were controversial, but he improved the morals of the Churchdrastically.
Calvin developed the pattern of church government that is today known asMartin Luther and John Calvin achieved great results, but went about it in different ways. Luther was more concerned with his own spirituality, and therefore set an example by changinghimself. Calvin on the other hand, was more concerned with changing society and thegovernment. They both believed in being saved through God’s grace, but Calvin believed inPredestination and the Elect.
Martin Luther and John Calvin were both key assets Protestant
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