Political Context for the Reformation
Charles V’s attempted to impose his Catholicism on all the German States.
Charles subordinated German revenue and resources to his primary interests in Spain and Burgandy.
The Hapsburgs were repeatedly at war with the Valois dynasty in France
between 1521 and 1555.
1532: Peace of Nuremberg allows Protestants to practice within their own territories.
Martin Luther Timeline
1517: Luther’s 95 Theses
1519: Charles V Holy Roman Emperor (1519-1556)
Open Letter to Christian Nobility
1520: Excommunication of Luther
: Against the Murderous Thieving Hordes of Peasants
THEOLOGICAL ISSUES FOR LUTHER
Justification by the Gift of Faith Alone
Rejection of “good works” as a means to salvation
predestination and the limitation on free will imposed by sin
condemnation of indulgences
Primacy of Scriptural Authority
Rejection of Catholic Hierarchy in favor of the Church of all believers
Background Aristotelian Political Theory
(a product of reason alone, one of the practical sciences)
1. Personal freedom is required for the pursuit of the good life.
2. "Justice" requires the opportunity to fulfill human potentials.
3. The state should function to provide the conditions necessary for the good life of its citizens.
4. When tyrants abuse power they must be replaced.
5. Aristotelians stressed appeal to history and pagan philosophers.
The Relationship of Church to State: Two Kingdoms
Curtis, p. 238
: “We must divide all the children of Adam into two classes; the first belong to the kingdom
of God, the second to the kingdom of the world.”
: “For this reason God has ordained the two governments; the spiritual, which by the Holy Spirit under
Christ makes Christians and pious people, and the secular, which restrains the unchristian and wicked so
that they must needs keep the peace outwardly, even against their will.”
*: “But the kingdom of the world is a kingdom of wrath and severity. In it there is only punishment,
repression, judgment, and condemnation, for the repressing of the wicked and the protection of the good.
… nothing else than the servant of God’s wrath upon the wicked, …”
Spiritual Freedom is not Political Freedom
Spiritual freedom is relief from the guilt of sin, but does not entail immunity from laws instituted for non-
Curtis, pp. 238-243
“If anyone attempted to rule the world by the Gospel, and put aside all secular law and
the secular sword, on the plea that all are baptized and Christian, and that according to the Gospel, there is
to be among them neither law nor sword, … pray, what would happen? He would loose the bands and
chains of the wild and savage beasts, and let them tear and mangle every one, … Just so would the wicked
under the name of Christian abuse this freedom of the Gospel, carry on their knavery, and say that they
were Christians subject neither to law nor sword.