(Side note: The views of this paper are as recorded by Richard Bulliet, Pamela Crossley, Daniel Headrick, Steven Hirsch, Lyman Johnson, and David Northrup in their book THE EARTH AND ITS PEOPLE: Volume II (c) 2011 being I am not permitted to use any other sources for this particular class.)
Martin Luther did not agree with the way the Catholic church did things. He did not believe one could buy his or her way into heaven, do works to attain a spot, or penance in order to receive forgiveness. His view was more along the lines of serve others out of love for Christ Jesus (truly from the "heart") as opposed to trying to earn the love of Christ Jesus. Further, he did not support the act of having a spiritual father like the Pope. Rather, he contended followers of Christ should be faithful to that which is in the word of God not the authority of a man. The "sale of indulgences" was seemingly the straw that broke the camel's back, setting the wheels of change into motion. Luther responded to the Catholic church with the Protestant Reformation.
This first division of the church was the beginning of terrible wars within the church body and opened the door for many more divisions yet to come. The second to jump on this bandwagon was John Calvin (1509-1564). His views, though similar to those of Luther, differed in that Calvin believed salvation is a gift, from God, of grace. Man does not control whether or not he is saved, rather it was decided before the foundations of the earth...grace by faith alone. Christian marriage was also a focus of Calvinists instead of a dictatorship within the home.
The answer from the Catholic church (1545 - 1563) regarding all of this was to tweak things on their end, as well, and clarify their standing. The Catholic church felt their doctrine was correct and there needed to be correction of Protestant "errors". No to mention there was a desire to solidify the reign of the Pope. The formation of the "Jesuits" by Ignatius of Loyola took place in 1540 created yet another branch of the Christian faith.
A house divided cannot stand against itself and the Christian family was no different. Each crack in the foundation caused more turmoil. This animosity continued until 1648 in western Europe however still causes friction now days, in the United States. Recognition and support of the Reformation flip flopped back and forth with each new monarch pending his views and leniency. King Phillip II of Spain had a no tolerance policy, enforced it heavily, and punishment was severe. Calvinists gained some ground in 1562-1598 and also with the Edict of Nantes however this freedom of religion was then later revoked by Louis XIV in 1598.
Yet more separation from the Catholic faith came during the supremacy of Henry VIII who denounced it and headed up the Church of England. Next, came the Angelican Church and the English Puritans. All of which began with Martin Luther who said enough is enough and stood against the Catholic beliefs. I do believe the Christian faith has the most denominations. Islam has two, as I understand.