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  Quote Ottoman Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The Reformation
    Posted: 26-Oct-2005 at 20:28

  What do you think of the reformation?  What do you think of Martin Luther?  What caused the reformation?  Could the pope have stopped it?

 

 



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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Nov-2005 at 13:39
So many questions, so little time.

1. The Reformation was a significant step in the emancipation of "thought" from the restrictions official Christendom had set it for a thousand years or so. After many failed attempts, it was demonstrated that the intellectual monopoly of the Catholic Church could be broken. Even if Luther and the various Protestant Churches regressed into Christian dogmatism after the reformation, an avalanche was set in motion that eventually would liberate intellectual life from religious restrains.

2. Luther was a couragous man , convinced of his own sincerity, but with little understanding of what he had actually started and what possibilities he had opened up.
His significance for Germany is greater, his translation of the Bible into German created an unified German language.
3. Many reasons contributed to the Reformation, the obvious being the total corruption and perversion of the Papacy, that Luther criticised, a redefinition of Christian belief that would demand a more inward looking devotion instead of the worldly displays of Papal power,the decline of the feudal society and the formation of a new economic and social classes in the re-emerging towns and so on. The success of Luther's reformation was also made possible through conflicts between the various German states that supported Luther and the Central authorities of the Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy. The begin of a distinct German nationalism could be traced here.
4. Where his predecessors had failed, Luther or indeed any other who would have tried to reform Christianity was bound to succeed. The time had come.
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  Quote AlbinoAlien Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Nov-2005 at 14:03
indulgences for sale! indulgences! only 80$ per indulgence! garuntee your entrance to heaven! hurry up, there going quickly! the catholic vaults are runnin' low on the dough!
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  Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Nov-2005 at 14:33

I don't want to stop Komnenos Reformation-glorifying rampage here but it is also noteworthy to some of you that the reformation caused the split of Germany in two hostile camps, further undermined the authority of the Holy Roman emperor and last but not least led to many wars that could have been easily prevented if Luther just had reformed the Catholic church (soemthing always claimed by pro-Lutheranians) isnstead of creating a whole new breakaway church (what has happened in fact). because of him, 1/3 of the german population died in the 30 yeas war and led the pope to such idiotic decisicions as the counter-reformation, or caused the death of thousands of Hugenottes in the Bartholomews Night in France...

oh yeah, one more thing, Luther totally opposed the German peasants war that was ongoing at the same time, plus, after realizing the Jews won't even convert to his new church he started to hate them and propagized their persecution...

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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Nov-2005 at 17:54
Originally posted by Temujin

I don't want to stop Komnenos Reformation-glorifying rampage here but it is also noteworthy to some of you that the reformation caused the split of Germany in two hostile camps, further undermined the authority of the Holy Roman emperor and last but not least led to many wars that could have been easily prevented if Luther just had reformed the Catholic church (soemthing always claimed by pro-Lutheranians) isnstead of creating a whole new breakaway church (what has happened in fact). because of him, 1/3 of the german population died in the 30 yeas war and led the pope to such idiotic decisicions as the counter-reformation, or caused the death of thousands of Hugenottes in the Bartholomews Night in France...

oh yeah, one more thing, Luther totally opposed the German peasants war that was ongoing at the same time, plus, after realizing the Jews won't even convert to his new church he started to hate them and propagized their persecution...

Unintended and unknowable consequences are frequently the most profound.  Luther was just a priest, not Nostradamus or Saint Peter.

Martin Luther could not have forseen the Thirty Years War or St. Bartholomew's.  Nor could Luther have "just reformed the Catholic Church."  He was an important historical figure, but don't invest him with such powers.

From some peoples' ideas or ideals, others often fashion their own agendas.  The Elector of Saxony saw wealth in confiscation.  In an age when "heresy" was synonymous with treason, the Guise siezed an opportunity to consolidate power in the French wars and blame their actions on others.

I don't think Luther invented persecution of the Jews.  Like I said, he was a priest, not a saint.

Komnenos and I don't agree on much, but here, I agree with him. 

 

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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Nov-2005 at 00:58
Originally posted by Temujin

I don't want to stop Komnenos Reformation-glorifying rampage here but it is also noteworthy to some of youthat the reformation caused the split of Germany in two hostile camps, further undermined theauthority of the Holy Roman emperor and last but not least led to many wars that could have been easilyprevented if Luther just had reformed the Catholic church (soemthing always claimed by pro-Lutheranians)isnstead of creating a whole new breakaway church (what has happened in fact). because of him, 1/3 of the german population died in the 30 yeas war and led the pope to such idiotic decisicions as the counter-reformation, or caused the death of thousands of Hugenottes in the Bartholomews Night in France...


oh yeah, one more thing, Luther totally opposed the German peasants war that was ongoing at the same time, plus, after realizing the Jews won't even convert to his new church he started to hate them and propagized their persecution...



Just a couple of remarks, first of all Germany or the HRE was hardly a homogenous unit before Luther, but not only split in two but into many camps throughout both entities' history. To say that Luther or the Reformation started the Thirty Years or any other of the so-called religious Wars in the 16th and 17th century, is probably only valid if you subscribe to the theory that there is actually such a phenomena as religious war, and not a conflict that is caused by far more profane issues, and where religion is only used as a pretext. I'm certain the re-distribution of political power in the HRE and Germany would have happened without that the Reformation had supplied the casus belli.
Secondly, you're right to say that Luther didn't cover himself with glory in the peasant war of 1525, where he came out for the feudal lords and against the political demands of the peasants. He wasn't aware of the political implications of his attempted reform of the Church, or the social background on which his success was based. But he isn't the only in this position, many rebellions and revolutions took on a dynamic that soon overtook the intentions of those who initiated them.


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  Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Nov-2005 at 01:35
Originally posted by Temujin

I don't want to stop Komnenos Reformation-glorifying rampage here but it is also noteworthy to some of you that the reformation caused the split of Germany in two hostile camps, further undermined the authority of the Holy Roman emperor and last but not least led to many wars that could have been easily prevented if Luther just had reformed the Catholic church (soemthing always claimed by pro-Lutheranians) isnstead of creating a whole new breakaway church (what has happened in fact). because of him, 1/3 of the german population died in the 30 yeas war and led the pope to such idiotic decisicions as the counter-reformation, or caused the death of thousands of Hugenottes in the Bartholomews Night in France...

This is committing the teleological fallacy.  Of course Luther's ideas caused a maelstorm of religious and political upheaval.  However, he did not stand glibly by while peasants were slaughtered and "Protestant" splinter groups warred with each other in the countryside.  He tried through speech and writing to calm things down and to condemn the horrific violence.  Look at his refutation of Thomas Muntzer and some of Luther's commentaries on the letters of Paul.

after realizing the Jews won't even convert to his new church he started to hate them and propagized their persecution...

Yes, Luther's later polemics against the Jews were blotches on his amazing career.  However, we must keep Martin Luther in his proper sixteenth-century Western European context.  It is useless to make a judgement on his person through 21st century eyes, unless you want to say that anti-semitism in general was/is bad, in which case I think we all would agree.  However,  Anti-semitism was common in medieval Europe from the fall of Rome, through the Crusades, during the expulsion of the Jews from Spain after the Reconquista, and even during the Reformation.  Luther was, in this aspect, an unfortunate product of this medieval mindset towards Jews.  That being said, I think an argument can be made in that by the time he wrote these awful polemics, he was a bitter old man, and he had seen his once fresh and positive Reformation movement hijacked by all manners of radicals and political hacks, who in turn caused so much turmoil and bloodshed in their twisting of his ideas.



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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Nov-2005 at 12:37
Originally posted by Byzantine Emperor

This is committing the teleological fallacy. Of course Luther's ideas caused a maelstorm of religious and political upheaval. However, he did not stand glibly by while peasants were slaughtered and "Protestant" splinter groups warred with each other in the countryside. He tried through speech and writing to calm things down and to condemn the horrific violence. Look at his refutation of Thomas Muntzer and some of Luther's commentaries on the letters of Paul.





What Luther got caught up in , was a different understanding of the aims of Luthers reformation of the Church by those two groups that embraced his ideas most enthusiastically.
While the burghers, merchants and craftsmen, of the German cities saw it as a chance to get rid of those ideological and factual restrictions of the feudal society that severely endangered the broadening of commerce and trade, but needed to keep the basic principles of an unequal and authoritarian society as a protection for their privileges and economic activities,... the rebellious peasants regarded the re-orientation of Protestant religion to content and structure of early Christianity, as the ideology for the only way out of centuries of exploitation and opression, namely an egalitarian, proto-Communist society, as advocated by the more radical Protestant preachers like Thomas Muentzer.
Luther was possibly unable or unwilling to comprehend the conflict, he comes across as a revolutionary by accident, one who is taken by surprise by the implications of his deeds, and thus only reacts instead of being pro-active. Amongst all this there was probably a deep belief in the rightful order of things as they were, after they had been stripped of the worst excesses.
In the end he came out in support of the burghers and the German princes, whose interests were up to a certain point identical.
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  Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Nov-2005 at 13:00

Originally posted by Komnenos

Luther was possibly unable or unwilling to comprehend the conflict, he comes across as a revolutionary by accident, one who is taken by surprise by the implications of his deeds, and thus only reacts instead of being pro-active. Amongst all this there was probably a deep belief in the rightful order of things as they were, after they had been stripped of the worst excesses.

I agree with this.  But still, I think he was pro-active up to a point in trying to calm the violence and the civil unrest.  He wrote against it and preached against it.  However, it did not do much good and the revolutionary groups took on their own character and did what they wanted in the end.  I think this is why Luther was so embittered at the end of his life and directed his anger and frustration at the situation into those horrible polemics against the Jews.

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  Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Nov-2005 at 15:10

look, what i critizise Luther for is that he is nowadays glorified for things he didn't ever do. in fact he could have been one of the most revolutionary characters of mankinds history, but utterly failed at it, what started as a reformation ended in a new schism. isnetad of supporting the case of the common peasantry, he condemned them and indirectly caused worser effects on the common people while he tried to better their situation through religion. and as you said, in an age were persecution of Jews was more common than the exception he was (at first) very open to them, but of course only under the pretext of conversion to christianity, his view of christianity that is. and when he realized his mistake, he started getting ugly on them.

so instead of bringing light in a world of darkness, he further comlicated teh situation for many people and casued somethign really evil, he became the devils handlanger.

 

about religious wars. come on, what you call the Jihad, Intifada, Crusades and so on, I mean look at Charles XII of Sweden, he was a total Protestant fanatic, otherwise he wouldn't have intervened in Saxony-Polands politics as much as he did. and you can't really say it became bigger than uther expected, in the age of inquisition he tried to reform the catholic(!!) church and undermine the authority of the pope?? he must have been near insane! at least he must ahve realized that he was likely not going to suceed.



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  Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Nov-2005 at 17:24
Originally posted by Temujin

look, what i critizise Luther for is that he is nowadays glorified for things he didn't ever do. in fact he could have been one of the most revolutionary characters of mankinds history, but utterly failed at it, what started as a reformation ended in a new schism. isnetad of supporting the case of the common peasantry, he condemned them and indirectly caused worser effects on the common people while he tried to better their situation through religion. and as you said, in an age were persecution of Jews was more common than the exception he was (at first) very open to them, but of course only under the pretext of conversion to christianity, his view of christianity that is. and when he realized his mistake, he started getting ugly on them.

so instead of bringing light in a world of darkness, he further comlicated teh situation for many people and casued somethign really evil, he became the devils handlanger.

 

about religious wars. come on, what you call the Jihad, Intifada, Crusades and so on, I mean look at Charles XII of Sweden, he was a total Protestant fanatic, otherwise he wouldn't have intervened in Saxony-Polands politics as much as he did. and you can't really say it became bigger than uther expected, in the age of inquisition he tried to reform the catholic(!!) church and undermine the authority of the pope?? he must have been near insane! at least he must ahve realized that he was likely not going to suceed.

Which person are you replying to?

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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Nov-2005 at 21:49
I think one important achievement which must be noted is that the reformation finally paved the way towards the nation state. Although "Christendom" as a concept was hardly solid by the 16th century, Luther's doctrine encouraged that final split between the Papacy and a number of royal governments. When Henry VIII effectively removed himself from the threat of damnation, along with his nation, he effectively separated it from dominance by a foreign power and increased the independence of his nation. The Papacy was increasingly marginalised, while the governments themselves assumed far greater power over their peoples. Even in Catholic powers (e.g. 17th century France), the trend caught on and royal government was exalted at the expense of the Papacy.
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  Quote Darryl58 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Nov-2005 at 21:29

Originally posted by Constantine XI

I think one important achievement which must be noted is that the reformation finally paved the way towards the nation state. Although "Christendom" as a concept was hardly solid by the 16th century, Luther's doctrine encouraged that final split between the Papacy and a number of royal governments. When Henry VIII effectively removed himself from the threat of damnation, along with his nation, he effectively separated it from dominance by a foreign power and increased the independence of his nation. The Papacy was increasingly marginalised, while the governments themselves assumed far greater power over their peoples. Even in Catholic powers (e.g. 17th century France), the trend caught on and royal government was exalted at the expense of the Papacy.

Strong nation states were already being established in Catholic Europe long before the Reformation.

Spain and France were both more powerful than the papacy well before the Reformation. In fact, centuries before, Charles V and the French conquest of the city states of what would become Italy, had at one time even led to the papacy being moved to the French territory of Avignon.

These two countries especially, by the time of the Reformation, were in fact for all practical purposes independant of the papacy. Spain itself, breathing down the pope's neck,  pretty much dictated for the pope not to grant an annulment to Henry VIII form his Spanish queen, for example. 

The pope by that time was in no position to do other than what the Spanish monarch willed him to do.

Long before the time of the Reformation, the ability for a pope to rule Europe as a Pope Innocent III may have in the twelth century, had long since passed. The glory days of papal domination over all of Europe had long since gone by the time of the Reformation, and the popes themselves often considered themselves little more than local rules of their own Papal states, with priveleges. In style and culture, the papal princes were already almost indistinguishable from the dukes and th eprinces that were their counter-parts.

Quite the opposite, one of the effects of the Reformation was not the building of strong nation state, but  in central Europe, the continuance of the  fragmentation of the German heartland, now along religious faultlines, was pretty much assured as the result of this religious movement. Such a fragmentation has arguabley continued to this  to this day.

The effect  the Reformation therefore can in no way be considered to have paved the way for the nation state, which was already an established fact long before Luther.

Instead, since the Reformation was above all a religious movement, it would be more pertinent to look in the field of religion to discover the legacy that the Reformation had.

And in the field of religion, what we will discover is that the main effect of the Reformation has been the progressive weakening of the Christian belief system, to the point where it has become for all practical purposes an irrelevant, or secondary factor in the lives in the lands that once called themselves Christian.

In fact, this weakening of religion as the vital lifeline of a people and an individual has gone global, and many of the world's religion are threatened with the same fate as had befell Catholic Europe.

This, of course, is what the modern fundamentalist Moslems both detests and fear the most.  In terms of their own religions fate, in the fall of Christianity, they see the writing on the wall, and are fighting tootha nd nail to turn back that clock.

 

 

 

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  Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Nov-2005 at 14:06

good post!

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  Quote Ottoman Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Nov-2005 at 19:38
  Martin Luther was an important person.  It would of been literally impossible for him to refrom the Catholic church.  He was not insane and did nothing wrong when he denounce the Pope.  The pope is just a man and it would of been and is impossible for protestants and catholics to unite.
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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Nov-2005 at 11:03
Originally posted by Darryl58

Quite the opposite, one of the effects of the Reformation was not the building of strong nation state, but in central Europe,the continuance of the fragmentation of the German heartland,now along religious faultlines, was pretty much assured as the result ofthis religious movement. Such afragmentation has arguabley continued to this to this day.


The effect the Reformation therefore can in no way be considered to have paved the way for the nation state, which was already an established fact long before Luther.



I don't think there can be any doubt that the Reformation and its consequences had strong and positive implications for the definition of the German nationhood. Alone the resistance of the German princes against the demands of a return under Papal and thus Imperial control, was a first stir of the upcoming independence of German states. Although the immediate political consequences may seem negligible, or even counter-productive, its long term effect was the further desolution of the HRE, that especially after 1648, allowed the formation of several independent German states, out of the which the strongest, Prussia would finally achieve the long overdue German nation state.
Even more important were probably the contributions Luther's Reformation made to the cultural unification of Germany, not only in creating a universally understood written German language, that would allow a bloom of both poetic and academic literature after 1648, but also in creating autonomous German Protestant Churches that further accelerated German cultural independency.

Instead, since the Reformation was above all a religious movement, it would be more pertinent to look in the field of religion to discover the legacy that the Reformation had.


And in the field of religion, what we will discover is that the main effect of the Reformation has been the progressive weakening of the Christian belief system, to the point where it has become for all practical purposes an irrelevant, or secondary factor in the lives in the lands that once called themselves Christian.




On the contrary, Luther's Reformation probably saved Christianity in Western Europe from a decline that might have far earlier started if the morode and exhausted Catholic Church had remained the only choice.
The immediate effect of the Reformation was a spiritual renaissance in Central Europe, both in popular beliefs and theological thought.
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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Nov-2005 at 08:14
While it is true that nation states existed before the Reformation, the Reformation itself was a major step towards statism nonetheless. The Pope may not have had all that much real power in terms of armies, but he commanded legitimacy and could decide whether to put entire nations under interdict. Because of this many rulers had to consider Papal desires when making foreign policy and other decisions. The Reformation was important in the formation of a German consciousness, as Komnenos mentioned. To England (and most of Britain) it signalled a break with that continental authority of the Papacy and a move towards the development of the British state (once the Catholics lost control of Scotland). In the Netherlands also the Protestant religion was an essential part of the break with the Spanish crown and the independence of that nation.
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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Nov-2005 at 16:43

Originally posted by Constantine XI

While it is true that nation states existed before the Reformation, the Reformation itself was a major step towards statism nonetheless. The Pope may not have had all that much real power in terms of armies, but he commanded legitimacy and could decide whether to put entire nations under interdict. Because of this many rulers had to consider Papal desires when making foreign policy and other decisions. The Reformation was important in the formation of a German consciousness, as Komnenos mentioned. To England (and most of Britain) it signalled a break with that continental authority of the Papacy and a move towards the development of the British state (once the Catholics lost control of Scotland). In the Netherlands also the Protestant religion was an essential part of the break with the Spanish crown and the independence of that nation.

Constantine:

A very good synthesis.  Certainly in Christendom, the further away from Rome a "state" was, the easier to coalesce around Protestantism.  (Geneva might be an exception)

Two important states that should be mentioned (as far as the XVI and XVII centuries are concerned) are Denmark and Sweden....Lutherans all.

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