The beginning of the reformation did not occur one cold day when a German monk nailed a revolutionary document to the door of a church in Wittenberg. Its beginning is much more difficult to locate because no single event occurs in a vacuum.
There were influences upon that monk that he probably never considered. Changes in society both political and religious played a role in the dramatic transformation facing the church in the sixteenth century. Neither Martin Luther nor anyone else could have imagined the struggles that the church would encounter as it entered the ìmodernî age.
In order to understand how the reformation would become such an important time in the history of Christianity, one must examine the church and culture prior to the period to determine how the Late Medieval period and the Renaissance period ìprepared the way and made straight the pathsî for the Reformation. Certain practices within the church itself during the Middle Ages would precipitate rebellion against the church and its authorities. Many of the problems associated with the medieval church were a result of the cultural conditions surrounding the church in that period. Thus, in order to better understand the factors that gave rise to the reformation, these factors will be discussed in terms of their relationship to the church. Internal factors such as the great schism and simony impacted the church as well as external or cultural factors stimulated the reformation movement.