John Calvin, writing in 1543 (26 years after Luther glued the Ninety-Five Theses to the Wittenberg Door in Wittenberg and 25 years after Luther presented the Heidelberg Disputation), explained why the Reformation needed to happen:
At the time
when divine truth lay buried under this vast and dense cloud of darkness;
when religion was sullied by so many impious superstitions;
when by horrid blasphemies the worship of God was corrupted, and his glory laid prostrate;
when by a multitude of perverse opinions, the benefit of redemption was frustrated, and men, intoxicated with a fatal confidence in works, sought salvation anywhere rather than in Christ;
when the administration of the sacraments was partly maimed and torn asunder, partly adulterated by the admixture of numerous fictions, and partly profaned by traffickings for gain;
when the government of the church had degenerated into mere confusion and devastation;
when those who sat in the seat of pastors first did most vital injury to the church by the dissoluteness of their lives, and, secondly, exercised a cruel and most noxious tyranny over souls, by every kind of error, leading men like sheep to the slaughter;
then Luther arose, and after him others, who with united counsels sought out means and methods by which religion might be purged from all these defilements, the doctrine of godliness restored to its integrity, and the church raised out of its calamitous into somewhat of a tolerable condition.
The same course we are still pursuing in the present day.
—John Calvin, “The Necessity of Reforming the Church.”