Protestant Reformers

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Fictitious dispute between leading Protestant reformers (sitting at the left side of the table: Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Melanchthon, Bugenhagen, and Oecolampadius) and representatives of the Catholic Church, surrounded by important Protestant reformers

Protestant Reformers were those theologians, churchmen, and statesmen whose careers, works, and actions brought about the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. Historically speaking, "Protestant" was the name given to those theologians, magnates, and delegations present at the Holy Roman Imperial Diet of Speyer in 1529 who protested the revocation of the suspension, granted at a prior Diet of Speyer in 1526, of Edict of Worms of 1521, which had outlawed Martin Luther and his followers.

The meaning of the label "Protestant" widened over time to embrace all Western[clarification needed] Christians as distinguished from the Roman Catholic Church, except for the Anabaptists and other Radical Reformers. This reflected the widening spread of the Protestant Reformation over Europe into diversifying movements like Lutheranism, Anglicanism, Calvinism, and Arminianism. Today, all Western Christian denominations other than the Roman Catholic Church are loosely known as Protestant churches.[citation needed]

Precursors[edit]

There were a number of people who contributed to the development of the reformation, but lived before it, including:

Magisterial Reformers[edit]

The Protestant Reformation, popularly thought to have begun on October 31, 1517 with the posting of Martin Luther's 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, divided Western Christendom, as distinguished from Eastern Christendom, into the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant churches.

The Magisterial Reformation connected the visible Christian church with society as a whole, as the Roman Catholic Church had before, thus imposing on the government and magistrates Christian duties, such as supporting the new churches economically and weighing in on issues of doctrine.

There were a number of key reformers within the Magisterial Reformation, including:

Radical Reformers[edit]

Because these reformers were those of the Radical Reformation and the Anabaptist movement, they have not been traditionally listed with the mainline Protestant reformers. (Compare the reformers of the "Second Front" of the Reformation below):

Counter-reformers[edit]

Catholics who worked against the Reformation include:

Second Front Reformers[edit]

There were also a number of people who initially cooperated with the Reformers, but who separated from them to form a "Second Front", principally in objection to the Reformers' sacralism. Among these were:

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • George, Timothy. Theology of the Reformers. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman Press, 1988. N.B.: Comparative studies of the various leaders of the Magisterial and Radical movements of the 16th century Protestant Reformation.