REL 316 Luther 95

REL 316 Luther 95 - Tom Hohman Religion 316 Dr. De Boer...

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Tom Hohman Religion 316 Dr. De Boer April 21, 2011 The Political Reformation The Protestant Reformation was perhaps the largest social movement the world has ever seen. It unfolded over the course of hundreds of years and was responsible for many of the Middle Age’s bloodiest wars. It shifted the roles of elite members of society and drove an enormous economy that focused on religious items and practices. In a time in which politics and religion were nearly indistinguishable, the Protestant Reformation was able to change the core fundamentals of European society. Even today, the protestant movement is still strong and changing all the time. There is much evidence to suggest that later in the Protestant Reformation the motivations became more focused on political and social changes. All of these events can be traced back to Martin Luther and his ninety-five theses. But was this intended to be a religious revolution or a revolution against those in power by those who were not? Taking Martin Luther’s 95 theses as my starting point, I will prove that these theses were not only a rebellion against the Catholic Church, but against the government and social issues of the day. To prove this, I will examine Martin Luther’s ninety-five theses to discover his purpose and influences for each. During the early fifteen-hundreds, when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses, politics and the Catholic Church were nearly inseparable. Because of this, Martin Luther’s critique of the Catholic Church is inherently a critique of the government and the rule of law at the time. Because of this connection it was difficult to separate the theses based on the categories of
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religion and politics. They are all inherently religious, but I was able to separate them into a different set of two categories; critiques of theology and critiques of positions of power within the Catholic Church. I found that nearly one third (27) of the theses were directed at the position of the Papacy as well as the positions of the bishops and priests. While the rest are merely theological issues, these are direct critiques of the powers that each position has. In a time where most of the land, wealth and political power rested in the hands of the Catholic Church, refuting the positions of power within it would be akin to refuting the basic fundamental order of society itself 1 . The first thesis that really begins to build a case against the Papacy and, by a matter of association, the rule of the Catholic Church is thesis 21. “Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope's indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved” 2 . Here it is seen that Luther had declared all who preach what the Pope declared to be true are in error. Using this, it can be inferred that Luther believes the Papacy himself to be in error. While indirect, this challenge to the legitimacy of papal decisions is,
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REL 316 Luther 95 - Tom Hohman Religion 316 Dr. De Boer...

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