Although religious unrest had been brewing in Western Europe long before Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, historians view this event as the tipping point that shattered the unity of Medieval Catholic civilization. Disillusioned by Church bureaucracy and a papal schism, and encouraged by the formation of early nation states and the rise of Renaissance Humanism, Western Europe was primed for an alternative to the old order. The reforms of what eventually became the Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, and Radical Anabaptists called for a return to scripture and a focus on individual faith. The counterreformation on the part of the Catholic Church brought about a new focus on spirituality that culminated in the Council of Trent. The event that Linder calls "Midwife to the Modern World" still resonates today, in modern spiritual revivals, religious debates, and newer Church reforms. Illuminated by primary source documents from the period, a timeline, a glossary, and biographies of key figures, this volume is an ideal reference source for any student of the past, and the present.
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