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Throughout the Middle Ages the Catholic Church continued to assert its primacy of position The growth of the papacy had paralleled the growth of the church but by the end of the Middle Ages challenges to papal authority from the rising power of monarchical states had resulted in a loss of papal temporal authority An even greater threat to papal authority and church unity arose in the sixteenth century when the unity of medieval European Christendom was irretrievably shattered by the Reformation Martin Luther was the catalyst that precipitated the new movement His personal struggle for religious certainty led him against his will to question the medieval system of salvation and the very authority of the church His chief opposition was Holy Roman Emperor Charles V who due to multiple circumstances was unable to impede Luthers movement He opposed the Catholic doctrine of faith and good works for salvation instead proposing a doctrine of salvation through faith His publishing of the Ninety-Five Theses which covered the abuse of indulgences is often seen as the beginning of the Reformation movement However the movement was not only confined to Luthers Germany Native reform movements in Switzerland found leadership in Ulrich Zwingli who eventually sought an alliance with Luther and the German reformers and especially in John Calvin whose Institutes of the Christian Religion became the most influential summary of the new theology On most important doctrines Calvin was in agreement with Luther Calvin differed from Luther in his belief in the concept of predestination derived from his belief in Gods supreme authority This concept became the central focus of succeeding generations of Calvinists One of the more radical Reformation groups the Anabaptists set themselves against other Protestants as well as against Rome rejecting such long-established practices as infant baptism and sometimes even such dogmas as the Trinity and denouncing the alliance of church and state They believed in nonviolence and strict separation of church and
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