500 years ago, an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther discovered that the scripture told of a faith in Christ that brought forgiveness and salvation without price. The church had become an unchecked world power, and the pope allowed people to pay monetary indulgences instead of penance for their sins, a financial penalty instead of any sort of spiritual practice, which served as a sort of Capital Campaign for building St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. On Halloween 1517, Martin Luther posted a document, commonly called the 95 Theses, to spark a debate on the harm of indulgences, arguing that they prevented people from true repentance, as well as from giving to the poor. This small action is considered to be the initiation of the Protestant Reformation.
While indulgences were not Luther’s main beef with the problems in the church, this was the public starting point that moved Luther into the spotlight, where he would be excommunicated in 1521, but supported and protected by princes who wished to be freed from papal supremacy. The rest is history, in fact, it’s your Western Civ. class.