[quote=Christian4life]Okay, well as a Protestant I pretty much know what protestants think about this
Well, Protestants are very diverse and say a lot of different things, actually. It might be worth your while to check up on different Protestant interpretations.
They usually say it was because of corruption and pharisaical tendancies in the Catholic church at that time in history.
Well, actually many Protestants would say that wasn’t the main issue. Catholics, and ecumenical Protestants such as myself, admit that there was a lot of corruption and so on before the Reformation. But there were a lot of different attempts to deal with that. Luther himself said that previous reformers had failed because they focused on moral issues instead of the real problem, which was (in his view) that the Gospel had been corrupted and people were being taught that they could earn their salvation instead of depending on the grace of God. Convinced, hard-core Protestants today still believe that that’s the real issue. Others such as myself have become convinced that while Catholic theology in Luther’s day had its problems, the Catholic Church had not fundamentally abandoned the Gospel (and never has) and separation wasn’t warranted. But of course both Protestantism and Catholicism have developed in different directions in the past 500 years, and we have to deal with that.
There were a lot of other Protestant concerns as well, of course, many of which were (in my opinion) justified. The problem was that Luther and others on the one hand, and the Papacy on the other, refused to compromise, and the people in the middle eventually had to choose sides. It was a long story–it wasn’t until the 1540s that it really became clear that reunion wasn’t going to happen.
I also know that a lot of Atheists were in on the whole deal.
I’m not sure what you mean by that. There’s a debate among historians as to whether there were any atheists in the sixteenth century. Probably there were but they weren’t very influential–atheism was universally reviled.
I’m not sure what sources you’ve consulted. One of the better general books is Euan Cameron’s The European Reformation. The best book on Luther in my opinion is Heiko Oberman’s Luther: Man Between God and the Devil. Some people find it a bit difficult, though–Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand is shorter and more readable if you’re approaching the subject for the first time. I think Oberman has a better interpretation, but I’m biased (my advisor studied with Oberman).
Is it true that only priests were allowed to read the Bible back then,and that some of them weren’t even reading it right?
Not exactly. There was no general rule on the subject. At times when the Catholic Church felt threatened by heresy during the Middle Ages, they sometimes clamped down on vernacular translations of the Bible (in other words, the language of the people–English, French, German–anything except Latin). Most laypeople couldn’t read Latin, so banning vernacular versions meant that laypeople couldn’t read the Bible (bear in mind that many people couldn’t read at all). Usually these were what the Church regarded as unorthodox versions of the Bible, but of course one has to ask why the Church didn’t commission its own translation instead. The two main instances where that happened were southern France in the 13th century and England in the 15th century. The ban on laypeople reading the Bible in English was still in effect at the time of the Reformation. Among English-speaking Protestants, the idea that the Catholic Church “banned the Bible” is particularly strong, because in England at the time of the Reformation it was true. In Germany, on the other hand, there were many translations of the Bible before the Reformation (I think seventeen), and the Church had no problem with it. (You will hear it claimed that Luther was “the first to give the Bible to the German people.” This is utter nonsense; he was simply a very successful translator who helped create the modern German language.) So it really varied from one place to another.