What Exactly WAS The Protestant Reformation?


#1

Okay, well as a Protestant I pretty much know what protestants think about this. They usually say it was because of corruption and pharisaical tendancies in the Catholic church at that time in history. Apparently there were rumors of people being told (by church leaders) that they could buy thier way out of purgatory if they paid the church enough money and things like that.

I also know that a lot of Atheists were in on the whole deal, and it all became a big bloody mess with people losing thier heads left and right. Forgive me if I’m ignorant but that’s pretty much all I know. Martin Luther and his ideas had a lot to do with it. I tried to look it up myself and found so much stuff I couldn’t possibly make sense of it all.

So here is my question. What exactly was the Protestant Reformation? What and why were they protesting? What did they want to change? Is it true that only priests were allowed to read the Bible back then,and that some of them weren’t even reading it right?


#2

I’ll let others more competent answer you about the nature of the reformation.

But I would like to help you understand how it could come about for indulgences to be sold.

I have read that the selling of indulgences was a poorly conceived idea for the Church to raise money for the construction of a cathedral in Rome.

Now before you scoff at that - and I might add, before any protestant condemns Catholicism as un-Christian - let me note that it is common practice for marrying couples to pay their pastor or priest an offering for their service in performing a blessing. I guarantee you that some deeply spiritual Christians today would be very offended by protestants paying the preacher for a wedding ceremony - i.e., paying money for a grace that can only come from God? “Oh but we’re not paying for the grace, just the ceremony.” Well, same thing with the indulgences.

I’m not here to tell you what is proper or not, I’m just saying in the context of the time, paying money for indulgences was understood by those who tried to understand, and was condemned perhaps by those who were prepared to condemn in the first place.


#3

Essentially the Protestant Reformation was a rejection of the Papacy. There were instances of corruption in the Church – it would be surprising if there were not, since you can find corruption in any large organization (including churches) anytime you go looking for it. Reform was needed.

The fundamental difference between the Protestant Reformation and earlier (and later) reformations in the Church was that it was done externally – by breaking away from the Church and forming new churches.

Part of the reason for this was political (and also economic.) Luther appealed to the North German nobility, which sought to be independent of the South German (Austrian) Emperor. As long as the Emperor was supported by the Pope, the North Germans were in a difficult position. But if they rejected the Pope as well as the Emperor, they could assume a high moral and religious position in their resistance.

In England, things went differently – Henry VIII was a Catholic to the day of his death (but not a very good one.) One of his tactics in his “cause” to get divorces was bribery. He confiscated Church lands and gave them to his supporters. His daughter, Mary, tried to reverse the situation – and the people who had profited used Protestantism to justify keeping what Henry gave them. So there was a strong ecomomic incentive to the development of Protestantism in England.

On the Protestant side, the splitting went on – one Protestant chruch splitting off from another, so that we have literally thousands of Protestant religions today.

On the Catholic side, things were simpler. The Council of Trent (the major event of the Counter-Reformation) examined the problems in the Church and cleansed the Church without damaging the Magisterium, and so maintained a consistent doctrinal position.


#4

Hi-
As the early church grew there were some who had ideas other than preaching the gospel. Some saw it as an opertunity to make money and also to achieve a higher position in the church, they became power hungry. It happends in every aspect of life. In time pride set in and the leaders of the church began to cannonize those who had gone on, they began praying to the saint’s and to Mary, selling of indulgences, selling this and selling that, there are other thing’s as well. One of the leaders in the church by the name of Martin Luther thought this was wrong, which it is by the way, none of those things are in scripture. Luther took the 6 books of the bible that were later added by leaders of the church because he saw that the church had become corrupt and removed them. Now I know that there will be alot of replys to this saying I’m wrong, but I hope that you will ask yourself a few questions. Why would the church tell you that you should NOT attempt to interpret the Bible for yourself? Are they affraid your eyes will be opened to the truth?. Why do they say that the pope is infalable when he is a sinner just like you and me? Why do they have you all call a priest, Father? Why do they want you to confess your sins to them, when we can go straight to the source ourselves, GOD. I know why, it’s because they want and even sometimes demand you respect them ABOVE others. It’s that pride thing. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. They remind me so much of the Pharisees. Luther reformed the church back to the state it was before the pride and corruption ruined the church.http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon11.gif
Dave


#5

There is an interesting sidelight to the problem. It started by recognizing gifts to the Church, usually with a beautifully drawn certificate. These were often true works of art, and proudly displayed. Sometimes, there would be an associated indulgence (a remission of punishment for a sin already forgiven.) Over time, the “selling” of indulgences became a way for the Church to raise money – but it was usually restricted to wealthy people.

The development of printing made it possible to produce these certificates in mass, with the name of the donor left blank. This made it possible to greatly increase the number of such certificates, and many crooks and charlatans began to take advantage of it.

The Church – that is the representatives sent to investigate Luther’s position – agreed with him. But there was a personality clash with later representatives, and Luther broke with the Church.


#6

[quote=oudave]Hi-
As the early church grew there were some who had ideas other than preaching the gospel. Some saw it as an opertunity to make money and also to achieve a higher position in the church, they became power hungry. It happends in every aspect of life. In time pride set in and the leaders of the church began to cannonize those who had gone on, they began praying to the saint’s and to Mary, selling of indulgences, selling this and selling that, there are other thing’s as well. One of the leaders in the church by the name of Martin Luther thought this was wrong, which it is by the way, none of those things are in scripture. Luther took the 6 books of the bible that were later added by leaders of the church because he saw that the church had become corrupt and removed them. Now I know that there will be alot of replys to this saying I’m wrong, but I hope that you will ask yourself a few questions. Why would the church tell you that you should NOT attempt to interpret the Bible for yourself? Are they affraid your eyes will be opened to the truth?. Why do they say that the pope is infalable when he is a sinner just like you and me? Why do they have you all call a priest, Father? Why do they want you to confess your sins to them, when we can go straight to the source ourselves, GOD. I know why, it’s because they want and even sometimes demand you respect them ABOVE others. It’s that pride thing. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. They remind me so much of the Pharisees. Luther reformed the church back to the state it was before the pride and corruption ruined the church.http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon11.gif
Dave
[/quote]

:yawn: This tripe posted by the same individuals has been effectively rebuted so many times in these forums, it is not even funny anymore. At a certain point it doesn’t pay to cast pearls before swine. The earplugs and blinders are too firmly in place.


#7

[quote=oudave]Hi-
As the early church grew there were some who had ideas other than preaching the gospel. Some saw it as an opertunity to make money and also to achieve a higher position in the church, they became power hungry. It happends in every aspect of life. In time pride set in and the leaders of the church began to cannonize those who had gone on, they began praying to the saint’s and to Mary, selling of indulgences, selling this and selling that, there are other thing’s as well. One of the leaders in the church by the name of Martin Luther thought this was wrong, which it is by the way, none of those things are in scripture. Luther took the 6 books of the bible that were later added by leaders of the church because he saw that the church had become corrupt and removed them. Now I know that there will be alot of replys to this saying I’m wrong, but I hope that you will ask yourself a few questions. Why would the church tell you that you should NOT attempt to interpret the Bible for yourself? Are they affraid your eyes will be opened to the truth?. Why do they say that the pope is infalable when he is a sinner just like you and me? Why do they have you all call a priest, Father? Why do they want you to confess your sins to them, when we can go straight to the source ourselves, GOD. I know why, it’s because they want and even sometimes demand you respect them ABOVE others. It’s that pride thing. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. They remind me so much of the Pharisees. Luther reformed the church back to the state it was before the pride and corruption ruined the church.http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon11.gif
Dave
[/quote]

**Dave: **
Perhaps you might read something on the history of the Catholic Church. Believe or not, we are very up front about the things that should’ve been changed back then. Reform was definitely needed but not they way Mr. Luther decided it was to be done. The Reformation threw the baby out with the bath water!


**Poor thing, you are so brain washed by the standard lies that Protestants are famous for spreading. If you do just a small amount of legitimate research, you will find that the things you list above do actually come from Jesus and the Apostles and you can put things like “**Why would the church tell you that you should NOT attempt to interpret the Bible for yourself? Are they affraid your eyes will be opened to the truth?” into perspective. You would know about the heresies coming about and the fact that people like Martin Luther were going about re-interpreting the bible. The only place uneducated and illiterate people could get the truth was the Church. In fact, at no time in history did the Catholic Church ever forbid anyone from reading/studying the bible on thier own. You need history and perspective on this issue.


**From what I can gleen from your post, you don’t seem particularly interested in learning the truth. You’d rather persist in spreading the same old misunderstandings and lies that Protestants THINK is the truth. **


Good thing you’re here on this board so we can show you and teach you the truth. Once we show you the facts and the truth, you will then be obligated to correct any of your brothers and sisters who persist in the same lies you once believed and thus stop the cycle!


I pray that the Holy Spirit will open your mind and your heart to the truth.


**Oh and BTW - Luther did NOT bring the church BACK to what it was. The Church always was and always will be the Chruch Jesus founded before He left this earth guided by the Holy Spirit and incapable of error in matters of faith and morals. Mr. Luther only succeeded in turning the Word of God around to suit HIS theology and not the thrology that Jesus left us as interpreted by the Apostles and handed down through the centuries. He succeeded in driving alot of people away from that very thing that was put here for their salvation and nothing more. **


#8

If you want to read about the Catholic view of the reformation, Hilaire Belloc should be your source. How The Reformation Happened, especially, and also the chapter on Protestantism in his book The Great Heresies.

As for selling indulgences, I have read that it was actually alms being given. Indulgences (the remission of temporal punishments for sins which have already been forgiven) are always attached to some good deed done in a state of grace. Alms counts as such a good deed, and is therefore proper matter for an indulgence to be granted. That is not to say the system was not abused. But it is to say that phrasing it as “selling indulgences” is maybe not the most accurate way to put it.


#9

Dave:

My knowledge is limited on this subject, but I beleive I read this somewhere:

Luther …I thought he and some of the other Reformers accepted the Marian doctrines???

I also thought that those books of the Bible that he removed(from the OT-I understand he wanted to remove many NT books as well) were they there at the Time of Christ–are they quoted in the NT–apparently neither Christ or the Apostles thought they should be removed…may-be Luther knew better???

Pax, chris


#10

[quote=oudave]Hi-
As the early church grew there were some who had ideas other than preaching the gospel. Some saw it as an opertunity to make money and also to achieve a higher position in the church, they became power hungry. It happends in every aspect of life. In time pride set in and the leaders of the church began to cannonize those who had gone on, they began praying to the saint’s and to Mary, selling of indulgences, selling this and selling that, there are other thing’s as well. One of the leaders in the church by the name of Martin Luther thought this was wrong, which it is by the way, none of those things are in scripture. Luther took the 6 books of the bible that were later added by leaders of the church because he saw that the church had become corrupt and removed them. Now I know that there will be alot of replys to this saying I’m wrong, but I hope that you will ask yourself a few questions. Why would the church tell you that you should NOT attempt to interpret the Bible for yourself? Are they affraid your eyes will be opened to the truth?. Why do they say that the pope is infalable when he is a sinner just like you and me? Why do they have you all call a priest, Father? Why do they want you to confess your sins to them, when we can go straight to the source ourselves, GOD. I know why, it’s because they want and even sometimes demand you respect them ABOVE others. It’s that pride thing. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. They remind me so much of the Pharisees. Luther reformed the church back to the state it was before the pride and corruption ruined the church.http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon11.gif
Dave
[/quote]

Why would the Church tell you not interperate the Bible for themselves,:hmmm: perhaps so people won’t go into HERESY!Martin Luther took books out that Jesus Himself refered to.They were NOT afraid of Truth they were afraid of FALSEHOODS!Paul said he was our father are you saying he is in heresy?Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and said “go,forgive mens sins,whose sins You forgive they are forgiven them,those you hold bound are held bound”,what part of that do you not understand?Pride thing,huh?Is it not prideful to NOT do what Jesus said because you don’t feel like you should confess to a priest?Direct disobedience to Jesus.God Bless


#11

I would just like to add that it all started out as the Catholic reformation. Soon after luther split off and started the protestant reformation. The Catholic reformation is still going on. You can read about it on the following links if you wish-
google.com/custom?domains=NewAdvent.org&q=reformation&sitesearch=NewAdvent.org&client=pub-8168503353085287&forid=1&ie=ISO-8859-1&oe=ISO-8859-1&safe=active&cof=GALT%3A%23008000%3BGL%3A1%3BDIV%3A%23336699%3BVLC%3A663399%3BAH%3Acenter%3BBGC%3AFFFFFF%3BLBGC%3A336699%3BALC%3A0000FF%3BLC%3A0000FF%3BT%3A000000%3BGFNT%3A0000FF%3BGIMP%3A0000FF%3BFORID%3A1%3B&hl=en
Also the Bible was not widely available until just before all this started. It would take a Monk etc 8-20 yrs to handwrite a copy before printers came into being. Who could pay for such a book. At $30k wages / yr how much would it cost. Monks have to have money to survive. So the Church just made sure that each parish had a copy at least. Also once it was available cheaply through mass printing the Church had to work out how to introduce it to unlearned Catholics. There was the concern that they would interpret it wrongly. This has been seen in the protestant Church’s where through private interpretation they have split from 5 to 1000’s and will continue to split until there is a Church for each protestant. private interpretation does not work. The bible cannot be infallible without an infallible source to interpret it = the Church.
And what signs did the protestant reformers do so that we may believe and follow them. Since the beginning with the prophets through to the apostles they performed signs and miracles so that people would know there message was sanctioned by God, Luther etc had no authority then and they still don’t.


#12

:hmmm::frowning: :nope: Oudave where are you?:whistle: I guess we have experienced another HIT AND RUN!:smiley: :stuck_out_tongue: God Bless


#13

Here is a good summary of the Protestant belief of the need for the Reformation if anyone is interested.:wink: It seems to be rather irenic in is approach.

the-highway.com/catholic-toc_Armstrong.html

Michael


#14

[quote=vern humphrey]In England, things went differently – Henry VIII was a Catholic to the day of his death (but not a very good one.) One of his tactics in his “cause” to get divorces was bribery. He confiscated Church lands and gave them to his supporters. His daughter, Mary, tried to reverse the situation – and the people who had profited used Protestantism to justify keeping what Henry gave them. ** So there was a strong ecomomic incentive to the development of Protestantism in England.**
[/quote]

I just wanted to re-emphasize this point. There was a strong economic motive to the continuance of the protestant reformation. Once churches, convents, abbeys, and other Church property was seized by the state and given to royal patrons, there was a strong motivation to proceed with protestantism, so as not to have to return this property.

I’ve been reading Hillaire Belloc’s “Characters of the Reformation,” and he makes much of this point. He also believed that, had the reformation not taken hold in England, it would have failed in the rest of Europe, which would have resulted in a united Christian Europe.

Because protestantism succeeded in England (his view) it also succeeded in the rest of Europe, leading eventually to what we have today–a divided, weak, and secularized West.


#15

[quote=Christian4life]Okay, well as a Protestant I pretty much know what protestants think about this. They usually say it was because of corruption and pharisaical tendancies in the Catholic church at that time in history. Apparently there were rumors of people being told (by church leaders) that they could buy thier way out of purgatory if they paid the church enough money and things like that. …

[/quote]

If you have Real Player on your box and want to listen to som e interesting history information go to ewtn.com/, Multimedia, bottom of page to Audio LIbrary which will bring you to the search page. In-put “history”. You will get a number of entries, all which are good but in answer to this question look at “Catholicism- The Heart of History” with Joanna & James Bogle, and you will find a couple shows on that time frame of history. Very interesting. So are the rest of the programs in that series. And also the series w. Harry Crocker who wrote “Triumph” which is a good history of Catholic Church History but by no means all inclusive. I love reading about Church History and can’t seem to get enough of it.

God bless.
Whit - SFO


#16

[quote=michaelp]Here is a good summary of the Protestant belief of the need for the Reformation if anyone is interested.:wink: It seems to be rather irenic in is approach.

the-highway.com/catholic-toc_Armstrong.html

Michael
[/quote]

Hello, MichaelP ,I hope your doing okay:) She said she knows what the protestant take is on it.See there had been many Catholic reformations in the Church,but the split was tragic.Now look:crying: God Bless


#17

[quote=Lisa4Catholics]Hello, MichaelP ,I hope your doing okay:) She said she knows what the protestant take is on it.See there had been many Catholic reformations in the Church,but the split was tragic.Now look:crying: God Bless
[/quote]

Sorry I did not notice. I agree, it was tragic in a very real way.

Things are going well though. Thanks for asking.

Michael


#18

[quote=Christian4life]Okay, well as a Protestant I pretty much know what protestants think about this
[/quote]

Well, Protestants are very diverse and say a lot of different things, actually. It might be worth your while to check up on different Protestant interpretations.

They usually say it was because of corruption and pharisaical tendancies in the Catholic church at that time in history.

Well, actually many Protestants would say that wasn’t the main issue. Catholics, and ecumenical Protestants such as myself, admit that there was a lot of corruption and so on before the Reformation. But there were a lot of different attempts to deal with that. Luther himself said that previous reformers had failed because they focused on moral issues instead of the real problem, which was (in his view) that the Gospel had been corrupted and people were being taught that they could earn their salvation instead of depending on the grace of God. Convinced, hard-core Protestants today still believe that that’s the real issue. Others such as myself have become convinced that while Catholic theology in Luther’s day had its problems, the Catholic Church had not fundamentally abandoned the Gospel (and never has) and separation wasn’t warranted. But of course both Protestantism and Catholicism have developed in different directions in the past 500 years, and we have to deal with that.

There were a lot of other Protestant concerns as well, of course, many of which were (in my opinion) justified. The problem was that Luther and others on the one hand, and the Papacy on the other, refused to compromise, and the people in the middle eventually had to choose sides. It was a long story–it wasn’t until the 1540s that it really became clear that reunion wasn’t going to happen.

I also know that a lot of Atheists were in on the whole deal.

I’m not sure what you mean by that. There’s a debate among historians as to whether there were any atheists in the sixteenth century. Probably there were but they weren’t very influential–atheism was universally reviled.

I’m not sure what sources you’ve consulted. One of the better general books is Euan Cameron’s The European Reformation. The best book on Luther in my opinion is Heiko Oberman’s Luther: Man Between God and the Devil. Some people find it a bit difficult, though–Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand is shorter and more readable if you’re approaching the subject for the first time. I think Oberman has a better interpretation, but I’m biased (my advisor studied with Oberman).

Is it true that only priests were allowed to read the Bible back then,and that some of them weren’t even reading it right?

Not exactly. There was no general rule on the subject. At times when the Catholic Church felt threatened by heresy during the Middle Ages, they sometimes clamped down on vernacular translations of the Bible (in other words, the language of the people–English, French, German–anything except Latin). Most laypeople couldn’t read Latin, so banning vernacular versions meant that laypeople couldn’t read the Bible (bear in mind that many people couldn’t read at all). Usually these were what the Church regarded as unorthodox versions of the Bible, but of course one has to ask why the Church didn’t commission its own translation instead. The two main instances where that happened were southern France in the 13th century and England in the 15th century. The ban on laypeople reading the Bible in English was still in effect at the time of the Reformation. Among English-speaking Protestants, the idea that the Catholic Church “banned the Bible” is particularly strong, because in England at the time of the Reformation it was true. In Germany, on the other hand, there were many translations of the Bible before the Reformation (I think seventeen), and the Church had no problem with it. (You will hear it claimed that Luther was “the first to give the Bible to the German people.” This is utter nonsense; he was simply a very successful translator who helped create the modern German language.) So it really varied from one place to another.


#19

OK, now for your big question: what was the Reformation? Since I’m trying to finish my Ph.D. in this subject, I’ll try to answer. But it’s tough–grad students like myself tend to find it hard to see the forest for the trees. There were a lot of different pressures–religious, social, cultural, political–that led to the Reformation. But I’ll single out three big ones.

  1. Various nations and independent city-states had been trying for a long time to bring the Church under control. The medieval Church was a very powerful institution, with a hierarchy that paralleled the civil government and had many of the same powers, such as
    a.separate courts (which were generally fairer and more lenient than civil courts–they couldn’t impose the death penalty for one thing, though they could hand people over to the secular government to execute),
    b. the right to levy taxes (tithes; but they were legally binding and were basically taxes)
    c. a separate code of “canon law,” which was separate from and independent of the civil law;
    d. freedom (for the clergy) from most taxes and other responsibilities of citizenship. In fact, clergy generally were not citizens of the city where they lived.
    The Church basically functioned as a state within a state, as you can see. It owned a great deal of property, and the civil government’s power over it and its property was very limited. (Sometimes the Church would make an agreement called a Concordat with the government, spelling out just what rights the Church had within that government’s territory.) Civil governments naturally didn’t like this. They thought that they alone were the divinely ordained rulers of the Christian people (which is why I’m saying “civil” rather than “secular” governments–these were explicitly Christian governments). The Church, most governments thought, should be restricted to “spiritual” functions like preaching, providing the sacraments, ministering to the dying, etc.

  2. Many intellectuals and theologians in the early sixteenth century were unhappy with the Church because they believed that it had gotten away from the teachings of the Bible and early Christianity, and was too obsessed with political power, rituals, and complicated dogmas. The most famous of these intellectuals was a guy called Erasmus of Rotterdam, who was respected all over Europe as the greatest scholar of his time. Erasmus made fun of what he thought was superstition among the common people–mostly, he didn’t like the fact that rituals had been cut loose from morality. For instance, while he didn’t think it was wrong to ask the saints to pray for you, he thought that many people were praying to the saints for all sorts of favors instead of cultivating a relationship with God which would make them actually become better people. Erasmus produced editions of the Bible and the early Church Fathers, and he encouraged people to go to these older sources instead of depending on medieval theologians. Erasmus himself never broke with the Catholic Church–in fact he eventually rejected the Reformation and became somewhat more orthodox (or at least more cautious) in how he expressed his opinions. But he had made a lot of younger intellectuals very excited about the idea of restoring early Christianity and getting away from what they saw as the corruptions of the Middle Ages. These young theologians (far more so than Erasmus himself) emphasized the authority of the Bible over against the centuries of church tradition. All they needed was a leader who would be more radical than Erasmus and attack Church teaching outright instead of just trying to correct it in gentle, roundabout ways.


#20
  1. Which lead us to–drumroll–Martin Luther. Without Luther there might well have been a Reformation, but it would have looked very different. Luther’s main concern was how people were saved, and he became convinced by about 1517 that the Church of his day had gotten things badly wrong. (There’s a big debate about whether Luther’s criticism really applies to all forms of Catholic theology. Luther was taught a theology called “nominalism,” which in the long run did not become the mainstream teaching of the Church. However, in Luther’s day the ideas he attacked were very widespread, and some of his criticisms may apply to all Catholic theology.) Basically, the theology Luther was taught was this: you could use your free will to love God with all your heart. God would then give you the grace to do meritorious works which He would then reward with eternal salvation. Sounds complicated, right? Basically it was summed up in the motto, “To those who do what is in them God does not deny grace.” In other words, do your best and God will take care of the rest. Luther thought this was a recipe for damnation and despair. How could you ever be sure that you had done your best? In Luther’s view, human beings without the grace of God were utterly sinful and could do nothing but sin. The only way anyone could be saved was by God’s gracious offer of forgiveness, received in faith. Luther’s early Catholic opponents had trouble explaining just what was wrong with this. There wasn’t anything unorthodox about saying that people were saved by faith. The problem was that Luther was using this to chop away a lot of medieval Catholic piety. He objected to people being made to confess every single mortal sin to the priest (in Luther’s view, all sins were mortal, and the point of the sacrament of penance was to confess that you were a sinner and hear the priest announce God’s forgiveness to you). He came to see the Mass–the basic act of Catholic worship–as blasphemous, because it was seen as a sacrifice in which Christ was being offered to the Father. And, of course, he objected to indulgences, which is what initially made him famous.
    Indulgences were based on the idea that sin had two consequences: eternal separation from God and a “temporal punnishment.” When you repented, your sin itself was forgiven, so you would not go to hell. But the temporal punishment still needed to be worked off. (The best example of this is the story of David and Bathsheba. When David repented for his adultery and murder, he was forgiven, but he was still punished by the death of his son and the rebellion of Absalom.) Normally this meant that you would have to go to purgatory when you died, where you would suffer intensely before being allowed into heaven. Indulgences were like checks signed by the Church transferring the merits of Christ and the saints to your account, so that you no longer had to pay off some or all of your debt of punishment in Purgatory. In Luther’s view, this made no sense, because the Church’s job was simply to proclaim God’s forgiveness and it had no authority over what happened after death and no “treasury of merits” from which to dole out indulgences.

Basically what happened was that the politicians and the young intellectuals latched on to Luther and combined his theology with their concerns. (Luther shared their concerns as well–it was a natural fit.) The Reformation thus had three prongs–a political edge which consisted of taking away the power and wealth of the Church and giving the civil government the responsibiility for reform and godly order; a broad-based program of changing Christian doctrine and practice to conform to Scripture and (secondarily) to the example of the early Church; and spearheading it all, the basic teaching of justification by faith as proclaimed by Luther.

What did the common people think of all this? It’s not always easy to tell. Clearly many people found the Reformation liberating in various ways–the Church hierarchy could be very oppressive economically and politically, and many people resonated with Luther’s doctrine of forgiveness on the basis of faith. But others clung to traditional Catholicism, and resisted the attempts of the governments and the preachers to harangue them into giving up their devotions and their rituals and sitting quietly to hear sermons instead. And still others were quickly disillusioned with the “magisterial Reformation” (Luther etc.) and turned to more radical movements.

Sorry for this wordy account. I hope you find it helpful.

In Christ,

Edwin


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