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In the following work peculiarities of the process known as the Reformation are investigated. The figure of Martin Luther and his importance for the appearance and development of new ideas is described. Moreover, the phenomena of the Peasants War and the Twelve Articles are investigated. Understanding the ideas of Reformation by participants of this war and by Martin Luther is described and compared. The main differences and consequences of various approaches to these ideas are pointed out and analyzed. At the end of the work, conclusions are made.
The Main Body
Society of the beginning of the 16th century was very religious. Every aspect of the life of people, starting with kings and ending with peasants, was determined by religion. The Church was a very powerful institution that dominated the world. Its richness, influence, and territories made the Holy See the most powerful state of the Middle Ages. The Pope had the influence which no one had. However, the rule corrupts, that is why more and more people became unsatisfied with the Church, considering it to become venal and dissolute. Especially revolting was the practice of selling indulgences, which meant the absolution of past sins in return for money. Contradicting to all principles of Christianity, this practice triggered the process which became known as the reformation, which in turn was one of the main reasons for the Peasants War. However, Reformation did not mean total control over the church by common people and revolutionary movements, while participants of this war demanded their ability to interfere in the church affairs, referring to Luthers ideas.
Martin Luther, a priest from Germany, is considered to be the founder of this movement. Being disappointed by the existing Church and its rules, he suggested his idea of divine service which became revolutionary for that time. In general, Luther was sure that the idea that the Church is an integral part of the faith is wrong, as it is the creation of a man. He proclaimed the Bible to be the only source of faith and religion. Being revolutionary, his ideas influenced society greatly, being one of the main causes of the German Peasants War and producing chaos, dissent, and rebellion (Germany During the Reformation, n.d.). However, the understanding of reformation was different. Luther never meant revolutions and conflicts, while leaders of the Peasants War interpreted his ideas in their way. With the development of reformation, even more differences emerged. Luthers words “A Christian man is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none” (Luther, 1916, p. 312) peasants understood directly. The problem was that lower social strata appraised the Reformation as the movement against existing order and traditions, trying to act by principles that Martin Luther had never proclaimed and created.
Twelve Articles can be taken as the highest point of the Peasants War and attempt to create reasonable demands for society, lords, and church. The very first article states that participants of this protest demand the right to choose the priest according to their taste and to get rid of him in case of his inappropriate behavior or his interpretations of the Bible, in correspondence with the ideas of Reformation (“Twelve Articles of the Upper Swabian Peasants”, 1991) as they understood them. However, it was different from what Martin Luther meant. Peasants based their demands on the document known as Sola Scriptura, which stated that the Bible was the only source for a religious denomination. Created by Martin Luther, this principle stated that representatives of the Church had no right to change something in the main rituals of the faith according to their desire or the Popes order. However, Luther did not mean that the Church had no more right to exist and people had the right to interfere in its work. Moreover, Luther condemned this revolutionary movement as it caused hundreds of death and devastation all over the country. Having organized a great number of curacies on these lands after the Peasants War, Luther was shocked by the ignorance of people and even priests, and the way they interpreted his ideas. This fact can serve as the best evidence of controversies that existed between Luther and the creators of the Twelve Articles.
Having analyzed the main ideas of reformation and Twelve Articles, it is possible to come to certain conclusions. Having the main aim to epilogize the strangle of the Church and its interpretation of the basic notions of the faith according to the needs of the Pope or other priests, Martin Luther created his principles which served as the basis for the Reformation. They promoted great mayhems and shifts in society. However, Luther hoped for the peaceful reformation of society and church. Though, being wrongly interpreted, these principles served as one of the main reasons for the war known as Peasants’. Famous Twelve Articles proclaimed the ability of the congregation to rule the work of the church, stating their performance to the principles, described in Sola Scriptura. However, this interpretation of Luthers work was erroneous. Further development of actions showed the aberration of the participants of the Peasants War as even Luther condemned this development of actions, is not able to understand the ignorance of priests and people, which wrung his words from their true mining.
Germany During the Reformation. (n.d.). Web.
Luther, M. (1916). Works of Martin Luther with introduction and notes. Philadelphia: General Council Publication Board.
Twelve Articles of the Upper Swabian Peasants. (1991). In M. Baylor (Ed.), The Radical Reformation (pp. 231 – 238). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press