The Protestant Reformation
During the 16th century a monk preaching in Wittenberg, Germany, Martin Luther, worried over his own soul and salvation. His reading of a passage in Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Romans would not only end his concerns, but become the seed of a new religious doctrine. Luther interpreted the passage “He who through faith is righteous shall live" to mean faith alone could make a person good and just. His belief became known as justification by faith.
Over time, Luther’s ideas would bring him at odds with the church and pope. He spoke out against the sale of indulgences: They were certificates which guaranteed the removal or reduction of punishment for sins if the sinner honestly repented. The church’s agent for indulgence sales, John Tetzel, issued them to ensure relief of future sins, and those of relative’s passed on.
Luther spoke out against these certificates, and on October, 31, 1517, nailed his Ninety-Five Theses,
or criticisms, of church practices. Copies spread through Germany and indulgence sales fell. Pope Leo X sent messengers to dissuade Luther but he refused. The pope condemned Luther and banned his works in 1520, and in 1521 he excommunicated the monk.