Protestant Reformation

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Why, for instance, did Martin Luther succeed, whereas other important rebels against the medieval church — like John Huss — fail? Well, Luther was successful because printing had been developed by the time he advanced his cause. So his good earthy writings were put into pamphlets and spread so far and wide that the church officials couldn't have stopped the Protestant Reformation even if they had burned Luther at the stake. ~ Isaac Asimov
In the Reformation, text and picture competed with one other as different religious media, in a turn again Catholic visual politics. The Counter-Reformation above all used the weapons of a re-catholicized visual politics that transformed the space of the church into a theatre of heaven. The church directed this strategy against the private reading of the bible propagated by the Reformation. ~ Hans Belting
The Catholic Church was derived from three sources.  Its sacred history was Jewish, its theology was Greek, its government and canon law were, at least indirectly, Roman.  The Reformation rejected the Roman elements, softened the Greek elements, and greatly strengthened the Judaic elements.  It thus co-operated with the nationalist forces which were undoing the work of social cohesion which had been effected first by the Roman Empire and then by the Roman Church. ~ Bertrand Russell

The Protestant Reformation, often referred to simply as the Reformation, was the schism within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Müntzer, Huldrych Zwingli and other early Protestant Reformers. Martin Luther is widely acknowledged to have started the Reformation with his 1517 work The Ninety-Five Theses. The Roman Catholic Church responded with a Counter-Reformation initiated by the Council of Trent.

Quotes[edit]

  • Why, for instance, did Martin Luther succeed, whereas other important rebels against the medieval church — like John Huss — fail? Well, Luther was successful because printing had been developed by the time he advanced his cause. So his good earthy writings were put into pamphlets and spread so far and wide that the church officials couldn't have stopped the Protestant Reformation even if they had burned Luther at the stake.
  • Aniconism is a picture theory under reverse conditions and usually reflects a negative experience with pictures. In the Reformation, text and picture competed with one other as different religious media, in a turn again Catholic visual politics. The Counter-Reformation above all used the weapons of a re-catholicized visual politics that transformed the space of the church into a theatre of heaven. The church directed this strategy against the private reading of the bible propagated by the Reformation. In modern secular society, religious pictures lost their old credibility, which also damaged their status as works of art. So even within the same religious tradition pictures were subject to historical change.
  • The hinges on which the controversy turns are these: first, in their contending that the form of the Church is always visible and apparent; and, secondly, in their placing this form in the see of the Church of Rome and its hierarchy. We, on the contrary, maintain, both that the Church may exist without any apparent form, and, moreover, that the form is not ascertained by that external splendour which they foolishly admire, but by a very different mark, namely, by the pure preaching of the word of God, and the due administration of the sacraments.
  • To understand the change in Protestant thought and practice, we need to understand the Protestant vision of family and fertility, particularly as expressed by Luther and Calvin, and how it has changed over the last hundred years.
    Early sixteenth-century Europe was an era very different from ours. The late medieval Church claimed about one of every four adults in celibate orders, serving either as priests, nuns, or monks or in celibate military and trading groups such as the Teutonic Knights.
    Over the centuries, the religious orders had, through bequests, accumulated vast landed estates and gathered in the wealth that came through this ownership of productive land. The trading orders held remarkable assets in land, goods, and gold. Many orders were nonetheless faithful to their purposes and vows and used this wealth to tend the sick, help the poor, and lift prayers to heaven.
  • While occasionally acknowledging in unenthusiastic fashion St. Paul’s defense of the single life, the Reformers were far more comfortable with the social order described in Luther’s Exhortation to the Knights of the Teutonic Order: “We were all created to do as our parents have done, to beget and rear children. This is aduty which God has laid upon us, commanded, and implanted in us, as is proved by our bodily members, our daily emotions, and the example of all mankind.”
  • According to Harvard University historian Steven Ozment, in his book When Fathers Ruled: Family Life in Reformation Europe: “Never has the art of parenting been more highly praised and parental authority more wholeheartedly supported than in Reformation Europe.” Child rearing, in this view, was not just “woman’s work.” In the Protestant home, father and mother would share the duties of child rearing to an unusual degree.
    Luther saw the years from birth to age six as a time when a child’s reason was “asleep.” During these years, the mother took the dominant role in childcare. But at age seven, fathers should take the lead, with special responsibility for the moral and practical education of children. Inspired by Luther’s message and example, publishers turned out dozens of so-called Housefather books, sixteenth-century “self-help” volumes for dads.
  • Although the reformers-Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox and others-disagreed on many things, one conviction they all shared was that the Pope was the Antichrist and that the Church of Rome was the whore of Babylon.
    • Scott Hahn, Kimberly Hahn. “Rome Sweet Home”. Chapter 3 “New Conceptions of the Covenant”, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993.
  • I remembered how one of my favorite theologians, Dr. Gerstner, once said in class that if Protestants were wrong on sola fide-and the Catholic Church was right that justification is by faith and works-“I’d be on my knees tomorrow morning outside of the Vatican doing penance.” We all knew, of course, that he said that for rhetorical effect, but it made a real impact. In fact, the whole Reformation flowers from this one difference.
    Luther and Calvin often said that this was the article on which the Church stood or fell. That was why, for them this was the article on which the Church stood or fell. That was why, for them, the Catholic Church fell and Protestantism rose up from the ashes. Sola fide was the material principle of the Reformation, and I was coming to the conviction that Saint Paul never taught it.
    In James 2:24, the Bible teaches that “a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Besides, Saint Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:2, “. . if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” This was a traumatic transformation for me to say that on this point Luther was fundamentally wrong.
    • Scott Hahn, Kimberly Hahn. “Rome Sweet Home”. Chapter 3 “New Conceptions of the Covenant”, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993.
  • The family in early modern Europe was a patriarchal unit. This view, confirmed by contemporaries and historians alike, held that the man, as both husband and father, was supposed to rule his wife and the rest of the household. The German pastor Justus Menius stated it trenchantly in 1528: “A husband has two functions: first, he should rule over his wife, children, and servants and be head and master of the entire house; second, he should work and produce enough to support and feed his household.” Theologians and humanists shared this opinion about the man’s role in marriage. In Reformation Germany the model of patriarchy was promoted both by the Hausvater literature and by the pamphlets of Protestant preachers like Menius. These authors, and presumably many of their readers and listeners, believed they were living in a time “when fathers ruled.” Humanists, who admonished men to fulfill their civic as well as their familial duties, argued that a man who could not rule his family was a man who could not exercise authority in the commonwealth.
  • It has often been said that a reformation should begin with each man reforming himself. That, however, is not what actually happened, for the reformation produced a hero who paid God dearly enough for his position as hero. By joining up with him directly people buy cheap, indeed at bargain prices, what he had paid for so dearly; but they do not buy the highest of all things.
  • Lying teachers are rising, introducing ruinous sects, and drawing upon themselves speedy doom. Their tongues are fire, a restless evil, full of deadly poison. They have bitter zeal, contention in their hearts, and boast and lie against the truth.
  • The league at Allstedt wanted to establish this principle, Omnia sunt communia, ‘All property should be held in common’ and should be distributed to each according to his needs, as the occasion required. Any prince, count, or lord who did not want to do this, after first being warned about it, should be beheaded or hanged.
    • Thomas Müntzer in Revelation and Revolution: Basic Writings of Thomas Müntzer (1993), p. 200
  • The Catholic Church was derived from three sources.  Its sacred history was Jewish, its theology was Greek, its government and canon law were, at least indirectly, Roman.  The Reformation rejected the Roman elements, softened the Greek elements, and greatly strengthened the Judaic elements.  It thus co-operated with the nationalist forces which were undoing the work of social cohesion which had been effected first by the Roman Empire and then by the Roman Church.
  • Before the Reformation, the value of sexual intercourse was viewed almost exclusively through the lens of procreation. After the Reformation, the lens widened to embrace the unique joys and pleasures of the covenant companionship marriage provides. Thus, sex could be wholeheartedly enjoyed even if performed without the express intention of conceiving children. This view helped paved the way for acceptance of what are now known as “naturalbirth control methods. Yet, neither the Catholics nor the Reformers could ever have fathomed the numerous other options that would arise in light of modern medical advances.

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