Abstract: 500 Years of Religious Reforms

This summer, I will research various reformation movements throughout Christian history, including the Lutheran reformation, Calvinism, Anabaptism, Protestant Radicalism, the Roman Catholic reformation, the English reformation, and Methodism and the Evangelical Revival. My research will involve formulating my own framework through which to analyze each movement, tentatively as having a strong leader and grievances against the current system (institutional changes), being influenced by the cultural climate of the time, and possessing a unique and separate theology, or at least a distinct change in some significant tenets of the traditional theology. I will be conducting a primary literature review from each movement, as well as a reading of scholarly articles discussing the causes of the reform. I will also spend a week doing on-the-ground research into Martin Luther’s life in Wittenberg, Germany, where he nailed his 95 Theses in 1517, 500 years ago this October. Overall, the question I hope to answer for each religious reform movement is: what were the underlying causes of this reform movement, and how did it influence future movements?

My summer research will culminate in the syllabus for a class offered in the spring, RELG 334: The Protestant and Catholic Reformations. This research will also inform my senior honors thesis, and I delve into modern interpretations of religious reform movements and how they have been influenced by movements over the past 500 years.