Expansion and progress of Lutheranism

Key section 3 of luther exam


Luther’s ideas appealed to both the lay people, scholars and priests Lay people – attracted to possible freedom from financial obligations to local clerics and the Church overallScholars and priests – influenced by the humanist movement and Luther’s theological publicationsPrinces – Luther’s ideas of Church structure would mean an increase in their own personal powerSupporting priests encouraged the spread of Luther’s ideas through their sermons – the spread through oral dissemination

Role of printing.

German nationalism- anger against the Italian abuses in Germany. Luther’s writings ‘tap in’ to this long term resentment. Political structure of the Empire/role of the secular rulers- allows Luther’s ideas to develop. Oral dissemination- preaching. Woodcuts Luther’s protests- 1517-25- impact of Diet of Worms and the peasants’ Revolt. Role of the secular princes

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The Anabaptists

The name “Anabaptists” first given by Zwingli to this group Derived from the fact that most of them practiced adult baptism “Somebody believes in baptism again” Although many individuals and groups categorised under this name, they were NOT an organized group Left the Catholic Church during early stages of the Reformation Did NOT become part of Lutheran or Zwinglian Church Radical religious reformers who were impatient with the moderate practices of Luther and Zwingli Historians tend to consider them as a ‘lunatic fringe group’ because played no major role in shaping Reformation Did not leave any real records and founded no institutions Did not place the Bible in as high regard as Luther and Zwingli Thought God communicated to individual believers by way of the Holy Spirit Some even viewed the Bible as the ‘work of the Devil’

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Because of views on the Holy Spirit, many were susceptible to the ravings of preachers claiming to be God’s chosen messengers 

Many followed long established tradition of millenarianism belief in end of the world and the 2nd coming of ChristSome believed that 2nd coming would only happen if all the non-believers were deadTherefore, set out to do “God’s work” and wash away sins of the world with the blood of the wickedDivided humanity into 2 groups: Saved those who completely agree with them  Damned those who do not fully believe

Only true believers allowed into the Church and those who proved to be less than faithful expelled

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Considered the world to be a wicked place, full of temptationDeliberately marked themselves as different Piety was major distinguishing featureMost Anabaptists refused to recognize any authority save God’s not willing to pay taxes, serve in the army, swear oath of allegiance 

Although early supporter of Luther, Muntzer quickly became the most notorious of the radical revolutionaries When broke from the Church, preached about destroying the wicked to hasten the 2nd coming of ChristAlthough expelled after 3 years of preaching, Peasants War allowed him to put preaching into practice One of the proponents for mindless violence and bloodshed during the war After leading military to defeat, was captured, tortured and killed in 1525.

VERY unpopular with the rich and powerful. Luther and Zwingli found them disruptive.As result, many Anabaptists were persecuted whenever found 

Many executed in Catholic states; many persecuted in Protestant states

However in SOME areas (particularly in Holland region of Netherlands) Anabaptists allowed to live freely so long as they did not antagonise neighbours

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Effects of condemnation of peasants revolt

Before 1525- ‘Fast Track’ popular reformation- ideas but no Lutheran movement.

After 1525- ‘Slow Track’ princes reformation- Lutheranism was installed and monitored by the princes. In 1531 military protection was offered with the formation of the Schmalkaldic League. Also, Luther lost popular support in the countryside and the reformation consolidated in the form of an urban phenomenon.

Luther’s prime motivation was ‘Sola Scripture’- Romans Ch.13- all authority has been ordained by God. Therefore, the peasants have committed blasphemy.   Princes reaction- one of horror. Their concern was that the revolt had theological justification. Luther had to be unequivocal in his condemnation of the peasants; otherwise he would lose their support. Princes support- without their support there would have been no Luther movement. This support would not have been forthcoming if Luther had not been clear about the wickedness of the revolt, but we need to remind ourselves, as the Catholic lawyers at the Diet of Worms knew only too well; namely that the logical consequences of nominalism was chaos and disorder.  

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Albert of Hohenzollern and Philip of Hesse become Lutherans- provided a formidable foundation for the new church. Secular rulers replaced the bishop as the sole authority over church taxes, clerical appointments and discipline. 

Schmalkaldic League offered military protection for the Luther movement. Luther provided the theological blueprint (vernacular translations of the Bible and the Catechism) and the princes administered the church

Does Luther's influence decline after 1525?

YES:Princes Reformation- oversee the development of the Lutheran Church. 1530- formation of the Schmalkaldic League- military alliance of Lutheran princes to protect Lutheranism against Charles V’s imperial forces. Luther is discredited  after the Phillip of Hesse bigamy affair

NO:Luther’s theological writings formed the blueprint for the new Lutheran Church. Luther’s ideas naturally brought many princes on side. Luther develops the catechesis and translates the scriptures into the vernacular.

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