How would I compare and contrast Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Zwingli during the Reformation?

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Protestant Reformation began in the early part of the 1500's. There were many people who are credited with bringing about the reformation. Martin Luther, John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli are the three best known men of the time. They each had their own ways of thinking and wanting change.

Martin Luther was born in Eisleben, Germany in 1483. He was raised a catholic and was living as a monk. in 1517 he wrote a document attacking the Catholic Church's corrupt practice of selling "indulgences" for the forgiveness of sins. He went on to write the 95 Theses. This theses is said to set the world aflame and bring about the reformation. 

John Calvin was born in Noyon, France on July 10, 1509. He was also raised in a religious family and went on the become a pastor. He was also having a hard time with the Catholic Church. Ulrich Zwingli was born in Switzerland in 1484 and went on the become a leader in the Swiss reformation.

All three men were struggling against the ideals of the Catholic Church. Martin Luther more so, because he was raised catholic. The three of them shared a common mission of wanting the Catholic Church to reform on some of their rules and regulations. However, the three of them were very different, as well.

Martin Luther believed that the Bible is the central religious authority and that humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their works. John Calvin believed in predestination. He believed that only a certain few were destined for Heaven, and nothing could change this. Zwingli disagreed with the Catholic Church, concerning the Mass. He believed that the Mass was only a representative and memorial. He did not believe that Christ was present during communion. Martin Luther, even after being excommunicated, still believed that Christ was present during the Mass. John Calvin did communion only once a month as remembrance of Christ. 

All three men wanted to bring about change. They all worked hard for the beliefs they held so dearly to them. They were similar because they each wanted the Catholic Church to change in some of their ways, yet they were different in the beliefs they felt God and the scriptures were telling them. The three of them changed the look of the church forever in history. 

For more information about the Protestant Reformation, take a look at this video: