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A Ghetto Church
By the end of the "Christian" Middle Ages, hope for a reformed Church that was based on poverty, fidelity to the Bible, and The Imitation of Christ remained unfulfilled The demand for a Church renewed and died many times over, in the bonfires of the Inquisition, until the Augustinian monk Luther took it up in 1517 by posting his famous 95 theses.
After a long siritual pilgrimage, Luther came to the conviction that salvation is by grace, through faith. This led him to protest against the sale of indulgences and against other Church abuses. The energy that he had for theological debates gradually shifted to a controversy with the pope and bishops. Luther got the cooperation of the greedy nobility of Germany, who wanted to free themselves from the power of Emperor Charles V. After long years of political and armed conflict, the Peace of Augsburg was finally reached, whereby Protestant princes were guaranteed their own religion
Another Protestant movement appeared in Switzerland, first under the direction of Ulrich Zwingli, and then of John Calvin. It gave birth to the Churches that we now call "Reformed" and "Presbyterian."
In England, the Reformation started under Henry VII, who got in conflict with the pope about the annulment of his marriage. Under one of his successors, Queen Elizabeth, England adopted a moderate form of Protestantism.
Towards the latter part of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century, the strong convictions of various groups ended up in bloody wars, which decimated the population of Germany and much of the rest of Europe. The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) was the bloodiest war that Europe had ever suffered.
After several attempts that failed, the Catholic Church also arrived at her own reform, in what is called the "Counter-Reformation" The Council of Trent (1545-63) condemned various Protestant positions, reaffirmed Catholic doctrine, and took several steps towards a moral and administrative reformation of the Church. This reform was made possible, largely because of the birth of the new religious orders, among them the Society of Jesus, which became the right arm of the papacy in its struggle against Protestantism.
The Tridentine reform and the revival of religious life, through the new foundation of new religious orders, brought a short period of renewed creativity in the Church. This new creativity led to the great outburst of missionary activity that was just mentioned.
Catholic revival found expression in the new Baroque culture and in the intense search for devotional life and mystical experience, The success of this revival which was chiefly internal, was greatly dependent on the sponsorship of Catholic monarchies, with Spain in a leading role.
A Church turned inward and defensive also failed to appreciate the development of philosophy and science, which started at the time of the Renaissance. The Church's condemnation of the work of Copernicus (d 1543) and Galileo Galilei (d 1642) caused her to stick to an outmoded worldview, until modern times. Her negative response to the Enlightenment also placed the Church outside of the birth of new Europe, which developed without her.
The close link between the absolute monarchies and the Church led to a disaster, when those monarchies and the Church led to a disaster, when those monarchies were questioned by the leaders of the Enlightenment, who attempted to set people free by the use of reason. The revolutionary movement in France turned against the Church, and eventually promulgate the "worship of reason." Similar revolutions in Latin America clashed with the Catholic hierarchy and became strongly anti-clerical. The independence movement in the United States did not turn against the Church. It, however, created a new paradigm for the Church-State relationship, which was separation. It took another century before this paradigm took hold of Europe, resulting the creation of our present-day democratic states.
William Andrew Turingan