During the sixteenth century, there arose a movement in America to challenge the Roman Catholic doctrine and bring change (Foner 880). Martin Luther amongst other reformers braced himself to question the Christian life practices that Papal of the Roman Catholic upheld. According to Martin Luther, the Roman Catholics did not live as per the Bible teachings (Kang 148). He wrote 95 theses and posted them in all church entrance, questioning their practices. This concern was in the hearts of many people who emerged strongly after Luthers actions with an ultimate goal of reforming the church. Papas teachings had corrupted the church.
Controversial practices agitated the reformers to act and bring change to their generation. Papa sold indulgences and robbed people of their money. They had been brainwashed to believe that those indulgences were a means of getting to heaven. Other corrupt practices promoted by Papa were gambling, nepotism, the immorality of the church clerks and drunkenness which made people question his authority (Foner 101). These practices and many others were not in line with the Bible teachings. The reformers arose to actively bring up a generation of true religion; a religion whose focus was not actions but God. Martin Luther and Calvin challenged the taking of sacrament by the Catholics as they stated that it was not scriptural. The kind of attitude held by these colonists rekindled the zeal of reformers to have a change in America (Bessette et al. 143)
These people who stood by the principles of the bible to the letter were not well received. In fact, they were nicknamed Puritans in England (Kang 149). There was a very slow response from the Catholics who had already been brainwashed by Papas doctrine. However, this slow response grew and brought forth various dimensions of change. The effects were undeniable. Despite the separation that arose, there were positive repercussions from the Reformation (Bessette et al. 114-118). It impacted the American culture economically, socially and politically as discussed below.
America is a nation identified to have a high-level of individualism (Kang 149). This is a value that was inculcated to its people during the Reformation period. The reformers were against Pope being a mediator between man and God. They explained it clearly that individuals could personally go before God with no need of the Pope. This inculcated a culture of self-awareness and taking responsibility for oneself. There was an emphasis on respecting one another and being self-reliant. Many churches were opened, and people had freedom to choose where to worship. Christians were set free from the Roman Catholic rules; it was and individual decision to pursue salvation and follow the bible teachings. People were also free to question any practices brought to them, test and ascertain the benefits before being blinded into accepting it.
Kang states that a culture of working hard emanated as Puritans and social activists emphasized the value of hard work. It became a culture among the Americans to strive and acquire wealth (149). This saw in an era of Americans becoming rich and few people living in poverty. As a result, America developed at a faster rate than other nation and gained respect worldwide (Bessette et al. 246). Taking risks and venturing in economically profitable ventures was normal to most of them. Creating wealth was a personal responsibility. Today, America is among the richest nations as a result of its people taking the initiative to work and aim at improving their standards.
Democracy spread in America through reformation by the Puritans (Foner 188). This began when the Christians were allowed to start up churches and appoint ministers at own will. Since the church had a significant impact on political affairs, the same democracy was emulated in politics too. Luther emphasized that it was in the Bible that all people are equal. Nobody should be esteemed more than the other and, therefore, need to have equal rights. The systems of exercising democracy in church management became an American culture. It became an example to all Western nations on how democracy operates (Kang 150).
William Tyndale and Martin Luther desired literacy for their nation that they spearheaded the translation of the Bible to local languages (Kang 150). Together with other reformers, they encouraged literacy so that everyone could read and understand the Bible teachings (Bessette et al. 172). The reformers works were printed and distributed to as many people as it was possible. This would reduce chances of falling stray and follow corrupt teachings again. People devoted themselves to education and learned how to live as Christians. Education became a priority that was passed down to every generation. Henceforth, schools and colleges were opened increasing the level of literacy as children were enrolled to learn (Kang 151). Though at first education was religion based with time they introduced other subjects, and a new literate generation came forth.
In spreading the gospel, America is known as a devout nation in missions. This can be traced back in the history to the time of Protestants Reformation. Puritans who migrated to North America in an escape from persecution believed they had a role to spread the word of God (Foner 116). They developed a culture of reaching out to other people and spread the good news of salvation. These missions were later incorporated in the American nationality. They became famous and bore the name missionaries of spreading liberty and democracy. They desired freedom for Christians from all nations. In the process, their culture became widespread to many nations.
Protestant Reformation had an impact on the women and the have-nots. It saw a change in the course of women history. The role of women was emphasized and highly esteemed than before. Catholics had practices of women being nuns and monasteries. They had no respect for their position. The Reformation came to speak for the women. Protestants emphasized the need for women and girls to acquire an education for a better future. They also had to read their Bibles to understand the role that they had to play in a Christian family set up. They were also against any actions to undermine the poor. Women were respected more and marriages were esteemed. Ministers of the word in the Protestant churches were also allowed to marry unlike in the Roman Catholic. The family was an important unit in the church.
The Puritans who first settled America had a great influence on their culture that has stood to date (Bessette et al. 387). They reshaped the American nation for the better. They acquired their values and distinguished character during the period of puritanism. Its effect has not yet faded away as its impact is felt to date questioning political and ethical stands of this nation (Kang 151). However, there is a notable change in the way of life of Americans that is not in line with the practices of these puritans. This does not alter the philosophy of puritanism. It has enabled us to appreciate the spiritual dimension of the History of America; they did not comprise their stand to ensure a revival in Christianity (Foner 218). The current America has compromised their position, and they should reflect back on their origin to uphold what was the foundation.
Bessette, Joseph M, and John J. Pitney. American Government and Politics: Deliberation, Democracy, and Citizenship : No Separate Policy Chapters Version, Election Update.Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth, 2012. Print.
Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty!: An American History. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2014. Print.
Kang, Ning. "Puritanism and Its Impact upon American Values." Review of European Studies RES 1.2 (2009). Web.
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