Believing in rule by divine right ordained by God some Protestants including

Believing in rule by divine right ordained by god

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freedom from the state. Believing in rule by divine right (ordained by God), some Protestants including Luther and Henry VIII affirmed the need to obey civil rulers, yet others came closer to articulating a right of rebellion that helped shape later constitutional governments. The Peasant Wars offer an early example of this tension between the proposed freedom of each believer to interpret the Bible and the idea that nevertheless, there could be errors in reading the Bible. Compared to other reformers, Luther’s social ideas were conservative, meaning that he did not seek to disrupt the social hierarchy or to remake society. Lutheranism was compatible with secular governments but did not seek to use them to order civic life in a particular way to bring salvation. He rejected the electrifying rationales of some of the Anabaptist preachers claiming the serfs were not required by God to serve their earthly lords since this was a form of idolatry the worship of men instead of direct worship of God. Led by Thomas Müntzer, the peasants of the German lands in the Holy Roman Empire rose up in revolt in 1524 1525, a war that was brutally crushed, leaving 100,000 peasants dead. Luther did not support the peasants despite encouraging individual reading of the Bible and belief in the priesthood of all believers (Stayer, 1991). Anabaptists renounced civil society as corrupt and sought to escape it, some as Puritans in the New World. Calvin created a society and government based on his principles of faith; after a false start and initial ejection from Geneva, he did successfully merge church and state in Geneva. Zwingli also sought to create a Swiss state governed by Christian morality, with government as an aid in shaping belief and behavior. For Zwingli, church and state were merged into one, with God as the governor. Calvin taught that all earthly leaders should be followed but not when they disobeyed God’s laws. John Knox promoted this idea in Scotland, as did the Puritans in England. An unjust ruler had no claim to power (Macleod, 2009). While this sounds familiar to students living in 21st century democracies, the goal was not religious freedom but theocracy a religious realm ordained by God. The famous 18th century Enlightenment philosophies and revolutions, including the American Revolution, take this idea a further step toward religious tolerance and separation of church and state, with rights and freedoms God built into the universe. The English Reformation: A Unique Case The political causes and outcomes of the Reformation in England reveal it to be distinct from the Protestant Reformation in the rest of Europe. Independent of much of the critique that generated the above reforms, Henry VIII (1491 1547) rejected the authority of the pope and made himself the head of the Church of England. Historians like Newcombe (1995) see the resulting Church as initially essentially Catholic until subsequent changes were introduced through the influence of Thomas Cromwell and Elizabeth I.
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  • Spring '12
  • Barker
  • Protestant Reformation

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