In this lesson, students learn about the causes and effects of the Protestant Reformation by taking on roles from the Reformation and conducting a class debate.
A 9 slide powerpoint sets up the Reformation, gives students their directions, and explains a few background details they need to know. Then, students are divided into 6 teams. 3 teams will be debating on the Catholic side and 3 will be debating on Martin Luther's side. Each team is given an article 2-3 pages long that explains the information for the character that their team will role-play and information about the character they are debating. Students then write a speech about why their character believes their side is right and they also craft questions and arguments to use against the character they are debating. I also have my students use butcher paper to draw a poster illustrating their main arguments.
The 3 articles and characters are:
1. Catholic Monk vs Erasmus and Christian Humanism (2 pages)
2. Catholic Archbishop vs Martin Luther (3 pages)
3. Protestant peasant vs Catholic peasant (2 pages)
The articles specifically address the following topics:
a. Daily life of monks
b. How monks sacrificed physical desires to devote themselves to spiritual life.
Erasmus and Christian Humanism
a. How Christian Humanists applied Humanist principles to criticize the Catholic Church
b. How the rules and elaborate rituals that monks and the Church emphasized detracted from Christians focusing on true faith.
a. How the Catholic Church believed that Christians attained salvation.
b. How Christians had to make up for their sins through good works.
c. The role of Purgatory
d. How indulgences were sold by the Church as a substitute for good works.
e. How indulgences helped fund Catholic charity
a. How Luther believed that salvation came from faith alone.
b. How his beliefs invalidated the sale of indulgences.
c. Why he posted his 95 theses and then broke away from the Church
d. How Lutheran churches differed from the Catholic Church by de-emphasizing sacraments and focused on faith alone.
e. How Lutheran churches eliminated the special status of priests.
a. How the Catholic Church angered people through moral corruption such as their practice of simony and nepotism.
a. How the Protestant Reformation led to untold bloodshed and suffering through the wars of religion that resulted.
b. Atrocities that occurred during the Thirty Years' War and French Wars of Religion.
After finishing their presentations, students then present their speeches and posters and then question their opposing characters.