This semester, my homeschoolers are unofficially taking a GMU class on Religions of the West.  Here’s a list of questions about the Protestant Reformation (and a few other topics) they composed to discuss with their professor during office hours.  Paternal bias aside, I say these are fine issues to ponder.

If you’ve got your own answers to some or all of the questions, please share in the comments.

The Protestant Reformation

1. Why did the Protestant Reformation happen? Standard story or more to it?

2. Largest positive effects of the Reformation?

3. Largest negative effects of the Reformation?

4. Does the corruption of the Catholic church justify the actions of Protestant militants?

5. Calvin (double predestination) vs Luther (single predestination), which has the superior interpretation of the Augustinian tradition? Is either right according to the Bible?

6. Although Martin Luther was early on against violence towards Catholics, he later reversed his position. Why?

7. Does the brutality of John Calvin’s theocratic regime in Geneva render his teachings immoral? To what extent can the murders committed by the founder of a religion and his early followers be used to discredit the idea that said religion is one of peace?

8. Of the wars caused by the Protestant Reformation, to what extent can they be blamed on political motivations rather than religious ones?

9. When John Knox wrote his The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, did he essentially argue that no form of government ruled by a woman is legitimate?


1. How powerful is hindsight bias (the tendency to believe that certain events which happened were inevitable) among historians? Should people stay away from calling historical events inevitable?

2. “Historical relativism.” Do you agree with it?

3. Baron d’Holbach wrote: “All religions are ancient monuments to superstition, ignorance, and ferocity; and modern religions are only ancient follies rejuvenated.” To what extent was he right?

4. On the (earthly) net, would it have been better (measured by the quality/quantity of human lives) if no organized religion had ever existed?