Martin Luther What were some short term effects, and long term effects of what he did?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
The long term effects of Martin Luther's actions were to creae a schism in the church. It was like opening the door. Since then, religion has been more fluid in the sense that there are many different factions and even knew religions, based on religious and political interpretation.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

By introducing the Protestant Reformation, he gave English King Henry VIII the means to find an acceptable heir.  By establishing the Church of England, of which he, of course, was head, he combined religious and political authority and therefore could grant himself divorces, and continue to have liaisons until he got the male heir he desired.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Luther's rebellion against the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church effected some reform regarding the granting of indulgences and other areas of corruption in Catholicism.  Of course, with the splintering of Christianity into various sects, there were many repercussions. Evangelical sects began to form after the Protestant Reformation, and countries such as France and England were fraught with religious conflicts as the radical Hugenots and the Anabaptists were in conflict with the ruling Catholics and the Anglicans.

The long term effects of the Protestant Reformation have been religious and political, indeed.  One only needs to look at the history of Ireland, once a Roman Catholic country unified, but when the Protestant English came in and dominated, there were longlasting conflicts between Irish Catholics and their oppressors. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

By breaking with the Catholic Church, Luther helped encourage others to do so, leading eventually to a proliferation of many different Protestant sects. Protestants also began to break with other Protestants, leading ultimately to the vast religious pluralism that exists today among many different "kinds" of Christians.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

On a more theological level, Martin Luther made the doctrine of justification by faith a chief tenet among Protestants. As Martin Luther once stated, "the doctrine of justification by faith alone is the article on which the church stands or falls." This legacy can be seen even today in Protestant circles and the debates over justification rage on. Also Martin Luther drove a wedge between the law and grace (again from a theological perspective). Hence, generally speaking among Lutherans the talk of law is very limited as a means of Christian growth. The law is what leads a person to see the need for justification.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Some long term effects of his willingness to stand up to the Catholic Church were felt in the United States during some of the great revivals that occurred in various times.  During the early parts of the nineteenth century, so many different sects of religions were founded because people felt that they could interpret the bible according to their own understanding of it, something that Luther really pioneered and began to make acceptable.  This idea that each person could work out their own sort of religious understanding had grown so common that anyone could embark on starting a religion whether they'd had religious training or not.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the short term, Luther's main impact was to split the church and to cause a great deal of religious warfare in Europe.  He did not really mean to do either of these, but his arguments did have that impact.  In the long term, the main impact is similar in that Luther led to a situation in which Europe was no longer religiously homogeneous.  Some also would say that his ideas and those of other Protestants were instrumental in the development and spread of capitalism.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial