Where the protestant communities that developed from the Reformation Germanic in culture?

I live in Germany and was talking to a Catholic priest today and we were discussing the cultures that developed in Europe from different beliefs. We were both commenting on Catholic countries such as Italy, Spain and Ireland which developed what we both considered more community based and warm connected cultures compared to the Northern Protestant countries such as Germany and England where individualism was more emphasised. He believed this was due to Germanic culture that existed in what is now modern Germany, Switzerland and Austria which were divided into tiny fiefdoms, cities and towns which each had their own traditions, laws and locally elected mayors and burgers. This priest felt that the secular structures where used for the new models of church. Naturally equality and increased democracy seem like a good thing until they are brought into the church and traditional beliefs are open to change by a show of hands

Do you agree with his thesis and if so do you have any evidence that Protestantism has taken ideas that were originally part of Germanic culture? Were Luther, Calvin and Zwigli all German I’m background?

I think it’s more complex than this, but I do think this may have played a part.

I always found it interesting that Protestantism developed in the parts of Europe which were either never part of the Roman Empire or “front lines” against the Saxons and other Germanic peoples.

I think there was always a cultural (conscience and/or unconscious) distrust of Rome from Northern Europeans that predated Christ. By the time of the Reformation, I still don’t think Germanic peoples were accustom to listening to foreign leaders, even from Rome, where as the Southern part of Europe had been taking orders from Rome for over 1500 years (whether it was the Pope or Julius Caesar), it was part of their culture and their language was very close. The Germanic and Nordic peoples had different language and culture from the south.

So I think, before even looking at theology, so in general, I don’t find it odd how the lines were drawn.

I believe so, and they were almost as much political as religious in nature. Although rebellion against external authority is part of our fallen human condition, the 16th century Germanic cultures certainly seem to have had their share of divisive spiritual influence. By nature of their heritage, Luther, Zwingli and others were of Germanic-based cultures, if not of identical political influence.

I note that there was no “reformation” in southern Europe, or anywhere else on earth until it spread there with (what I see as) its diluted and far easier to accept spirituality. Its beginnings were clearly German, both geo-politically, spiritually, and cognitively. The rather vesuvian Luther being the spark that ignited the flames.

Let us look at the counter-reformation Catholics who fought for reform from within the Church. They are typically found outside of Germanic culture, in areas where political considerations were far different. Most of them are forgotten these days, as not a single one of them has a denomination named after them.

What is so cleverly forgotten today is that Philipp Melanchthon and others went to the Greek Orthodox with the intention of forming an alliance in opposition to the papacy, and with thoughts toward a communion with the Orthodox. Some six years and 400 pages of letters later, the Orthodox rightly and flatly rejected the advances made by the reformers.

They saw that, in essence, the reformers had thrown the baby out with the bath water. The reformers essentially thought that the Orthodox were “too Catholic” in nature.

I don’t think so. There were many reform movements in Italy and France that were effectively crushed by the RC state at the time.

That’s interesting, can you say more about that House?

Quite possibly because they were as heretical as the German rebellion?

What do you know about the internal/counter-reformation? What about those who fought internally in obscurity and did not radically alter the concept of “church”?

Po18guy do you have any book recommendations for this period of history reformation/counter-reformation?

Not precisely reformation era, but off the top of my head, for a resource book, I would recommend Dissent from the Creed by Fr. Richard M. Hogan. It is a good synopsis of all of the major heresies to date, with special emphasis on the “reformation.” It does not sugar-coat either the corruption in the Church, or the substantial and insurmountable problems of the reformation. It addresses Luther from the point of view of the Church who knew and formed him well before the rebellion occurred. It is available from Our Sunday Visitor for an amazingly low price.

This list of counter-reformation Saints is quite good and will give some direction as to reading material: ascentofcarmel.blogspot.com/2013/07/top-10-saints-of-counter-reformation.html

I wish I could be of more help. However, the priest with whom you spoke may have some excellent suggestions.

Thank you, the book in particular looks like a great resource.

It does go into some depth about Luther’s early life and his psychology, as well as the political and religious “climate” which existed at that time. The “reformation” would have gone nowhere without powerful political backing from local and regional lords.

As you have reformation in quotation marks what are alternative names for this historical period so people will know what you are referring to?

Friedrich Nietzsche makes these types of distinctions between Northern and Southern Europe in Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (1882) in his section on the peasant rebellion of the spirit, however Nietzsche emphasizes the northern desire for simplicity and naturalness.

Contrast, for illustration, Danish architecture with that of Italy.

It was a rebellion or a revolution, but has traditionally been called by the rather ambiguous term reformation. It most certainly did change the form of the faith - almost completely in several regards.

Nope. Calvin was French, as was Geneva.

But Calvin was younger than Luther and entered the fray later on - after the momentum had built up. I think the inception was inarguably in Germany.

Ok, sure, but it’s similarly reasonable to say that there may well not have been a Luther without a Savonarola, etc.

What I’d rather dispute is the assumption of a ‘Germanic’ culture over and against Southern European ‘Catholic’ culture. I’m not sure why this would be the case. The small, individualistic city-state with its civic humanism was above all an Italo-German phenomenon, hence Florence, Venice, Geneva, Zurich, Nuremberg, Cologne, etc. Smaller territorial polities were also transalpine: Luther’s Saxony and the Papal States to name a couple. Then there were the larger, more centralised kingdoms: France, England, Castille, perhaps Naples, Sweden. The political and social cultures seem more relevant to me than supposed national characteristics re: Germany and the Germans.

That’s before we get into themes such as class/education, the role of the universities, etc.

If we allow it, it becomes even more complicated than studying the reasons for the sinking of the Titanic.

Indeed - it’s pretty complicated!

Calvin was French…

True! However, he was late to the party, being younger than the primary reformers. At its start, it was a German phenomenon.

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