My sources are Wikipedia and ‘The World’s Religions’, by Peter Clarke, Reader’s Digest Books, 1993.
In the 16th century, many factors contributed to the erosion of people’s faith in the Roman Catholic Church. This led to the Protestant Reformation, because the reformers ‘protested’ the doctrines, rituals and structure of the Catholic Church.
It was led by Martin Luther, a German monk who rose to become a professor of biblical theology at Wittenburg University. He was appalled by the corruption of the Catholic Church, especially at the church’s sale of ‘indulgences’, by which people could buy salvation and escape the punishment of purgatory.
After studying the letters of Paul in the New Testament, Luther also taught the doctrine of justification by faith alone, meaning that salvation comes only by acceptance of Jesus Christ as savior, not by good works.
Luther was joined by other reformers, but doctrinal and cultural differences between them resulted in the different denominations that still exist today.
If the Bible is a true document, why do differences exist between the Catholic Church, Protestant denominations and others who claim to be Christian churches? Most Christian churches consider the Bible to be the ultimate authoritative word of God, but they may interpret it differently. Also, sometimes they fix upon and emphasize a certain part, and they lose focus on the whole picture. The Bible is a huge book, there are a lot of things that can be isolated and taken out of context.
Past history, even current history, has shown that pastors, bishops, priests, church leaders and even the Pope are fallible people. Even great Bible heroes were not always ‘holy’ and had their faults. If you want to know the truth about the Bible, it’s better NOT to rely ONLY on people (who by nature are fallible), but to read the Bible for yourself, and always consider the whole picture.
Next: Origins of Christmas