Religion has been around since the beginning of time. Even before there were the dominant religions such as Catholicism and Christianity, the first humans had different things that they served and worshipped. During the evolution of mankind, religion also evolved and transformed. There are many events that have greatly affected the course of religion and has alowed it to blossom into what it is today. Three events that I feel changed the course of religion in history are the Edict of Milan, the production of the first printed Bible, and Luther’s “95 Theses”.
In many instances, certain religions have not always been accepted, as with the case of Christianity. To follow a Christian path would have likely gotten one killed prior to 313. Persecution was common for being a Christian, and martyrdom was not uncommon. During this time, there was not much religious tolerance. However, the Edict of Milan, signed by Emperor Constantine the Great in the West and Licinius Augustus in the East, changed all of that. This agreement allowed for Christianity to be fully practiced without any hindrance. The Edict of Milan helped lead to the merger between the Christian religion and the state. ” ? The edict has demanded the restitution of all confiscated property from Christians. This merger gave way to the rise of Christianity. One of the edict’s key provisions was, “Our purpose is to grant both to the Christians and to all others full authority to follow whatever worship each person has desired, whereby whatsoever Divinity dwells in heaven may be benevolent and propitious to us, and to all who are placed under our authority.
Therefore we thought it salutary and most proper to establish our purpose that no person whatever should be refused complete toleration, who has given up his mind either to the cult of the Christians or to the religion which he personally feels best suited to himself. It is our pleasure to abolish all conditions whatever which were embodied in former orders directed to your office about the Christians, that every one of those who have a common wish to follow the religion of the Christians may from this moment freely and unconditionally proceed to observe the same without any annoyance or disquiet. 2 Though this document may not have been the best, it broke the ice surrounding religious tolerance. It’s creation is possibly one of the main reasons that the people of the world are free to practice whatever religion they please. It helped people to confess their religion without any fear of persecution. The Edict of Milan helped pave the way for universal religious freedom as we know it today. Another great event that contributed to the evolution of religion that changed the world was the production of the first printed Bible.
In 1456, Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press, thus giving way to the first Bible being printed. This led to mass production of the Bible, and now, God’s word could be widespread in a tangible form. Also, people could have their own personal Bibles that were not property of the state. “Books could now be produced in quantities and at prices that made them available to many people, not merely to scholars and monks. ” 3 This led to common folk being able to read the Bible and interpret it themselves.
If not for the mass production of printed Bibles, the Protestant Reformation may have never taken place. “Everything the Reformers said about the priesthood of all believers was rooted in the assumption that people could have access to the Bible in their own language. Thus, Luther and the other Reformers worked to translate the Scriptures so that no priest, pope, or council needed to stand between the plowboy and the Word of God. ” 4 The Christian knowledge spread quickly. With many Bibles being printed, more and more people began reading.
This greatly increased literacy. It was a evolutionary thing to have the Bible readily avaible at your fingertips. This also helped to make Christianity, the main religion of the Bible, universal. “Religion did not have to end at the church door; thanks to the possession of Bibles, every household could become a training ground for faith. ” 5 This outburst of knowledge continues to accelerate in our day where people continue to interpret the Bible for themselves and form their own ideas.
One of the greatest religious events to ever take place was probably Martin Luther’s posting of his “95 Theses” on the door of the Catholic Church at Wittenberg in 1517. Martin Luther took great offense that the Catholic Church selling indulgences, basically false hopes. What makes the events o great and world-changing is that it started the Protestant Reformation, which changed the face of Western Civilization. Luther believed that he was bound by Scripture to do so even though he was aware of what the consequences might be.
His “95 Theses” sparked the movemennt of Protestantism because it “defied the teachings of the Church on the nature of penance, the authority and power of the pope and the efficacy of indulgences. ” 6 Lutheranism also resulted from this event. Even though Martin Luther never intended for his work to be used as an ambush on the Pope and church or a program for reform, the wheels had already been put into motion. Luther’s “95 Theses” basically “expressed the feelings of many of his peers already had about the corruption of Christ’s teachings. 7 Martin Luther “was concerned with the well-being of the Catholic Church and its policy of granting forgiveness through indulgence rather than penance. Luther’s actions were neither cinematic nor groundbreaking. The message of “95 Theses” gave the summary and Luther illustrated the spiritual, material, and psychological truths behind abuses in the practice of buying and selling indulgences. He was not out to pick a fight or to have his own way; his purpose was to uphold the truth, for the cause of Christ. ”