• GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
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  • JOHANNES REUCHLIN
  • THE WEIMAR CONSTITUTION
  • W
  • INFLATION, REPARATIONS, AND
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  • STABILIZATION AND LOCARNO,
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  • ROAD TO DICTATORSHIP,
  • T
  • CONSOLIDATION OF POWER
  • THE NAZI TOTAL STATE
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  • THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN
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  • A
  • ALLIED PLANS AND CONFERENCES
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  • CHARLES V AND THE REFORMATION
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  • GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • P

    style='font-size:31.5pt;font-family:ATClassicRoman;color:black'>ROTESTANT REFORMATION

    translations of the Bible, and the writings of the church fathers. The approach

    of the humanists, however, was overly optimistic about human nature, something

    that Martin Luthers was not.

    The problems in the church were enormous. Lax morality and corruption

    were rife. Ignorance and immorality, pluralism, simony (the buying and selling

    of church offices), and a preoccupation with worldliness were widespread

    among the higher and lower clergy. Papal taxes drained money from Germany,

    and the church came to be seen as oppressing the poor, as was the aristocracy.

    Many Christians who sincerely wanted to feel assured of salvation became disillusioned

    with the clergy who would not live up to their expectations. The horrors

    and catastrophic death rate due to the Black Plague created a fear of death

    that continued to be strong in Germany. It motivated many Christians to seek

    meaningful religious experience and a certainty of salvation. Besides the pious

    experiences associated with the Modern Devotion inspired by the mystical Imitation

    of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, there were other devotions associated with

    pilgrimages and veneration of relics. Perhaps the most controversial was what

    many considered the sale of indulgences. Based on the churchs spiritual treasury

    of merits gained by Christ and the saints, a Christian could gain the remission

    of the temporary penalties of sin that he would have to suffer in purgatory.

    Conditions in the Papal Court in Rome under the Borgia and the Medici families

    were scandalously worldly and at times immoral. When Martin Luther visited

    Rome in 1511, these streams of criticism merged, linking the abuses in

    Germany with the authority of the church. And when Martin Luther in 1517

    indicted the corruption involved in the sale of indulgences by the Dominican

    monk Tetzel, he unintentionally sparked the Protestant Reformation.

    What had prepared Luther for the formulation of his Ninety-five Theses in

    1517 was a new understanding of Scripture dating back to 1512 on the relationship

    between grace, the Scriptures, and salvation. Catholic doctrine had

    long held that both faith and good works were necessary for salvation. Disagreeing

    with Erasmus and other humanists that humans could do good works,

    Luther came to the conclusion that human nature was so depraved that a

    Christian could never produce the good works that were required for salvation.

    Luther wrote that he came to despise the phrase righteousness of God, for it

    seemed to demand of him a perfection that neither he nor other human beings

    could achieve. Through long meditation on the Scriptures, particularly on St.

    Pauls letter to the Romans (1:17) that the just shall live by faith, Luther came

    to the conclusion that salvation did not come from religious works and ceremonies;

    rather salvation was given to the believer standing before God who

    trusted in Christ and was therefore clothed in Christs righteousness. Salvation

    came through faith in the promises of God earned by Christs crucifixion.

    At first neither the archbishop of Mainz, Albrecht von Brandenburg

    (151445) nor Pope Leo X (151321), took Luthers theses seriously, believing

    that the controversy would soon blow over. Yet, after they were translated from

    Latin into German and were printed, they rapidly stirred up great discontent in

    Germany. In December 1517 Archbishop Albrecht condemned Luther as a

    heretic. In October 1518 Luther was called to defend himself at the Diet of

    Augsburg, where the heretical and revolutionary nature of his doctrines

    20 Germany

    became more apparent. There was a pause in the prosecution for two years due

    to political issues concerning the election of a new emperor. In 1520 Luther

    published three pamphlets that openly challenged fundamental Catholic doctrines

    and challenged the authority of the pope. The first was the Address to the

    Nobility of the German Nation, which was a plea to the princes to establish a

    reformed church in Germany. In the Babylonian Captivity of the Church he

    attacked the sacramental system administered by the clergy and demanded that

    clergy have the right to marry. Finally, On the Freedom of the Christian Man Luther

    elaborated on his doctrine of salvation through faith, though he did not deny

    the obligation of Christians to perform good works.

    The seriousness of Luthers disbelief in traditional Catholic teachings finally

    brought a papal declaration of excommunication. In defiance Luther burned it.

    Then he was summoned by the new emperor, Charles V (151956), to defend

    himself at the imperial Diet of Worms (1521). Unwilling to recant, Luther said

    that neither could he violate his conscience nor change his position. The

    emperor Charles responded with the Edict of Worms (1521) demanding that

    Luther be captured and his teachings suppressed. Fortunately for Luther, he

    had the support of Frederick III, the Wise, the elector of Saxony (14861525),

    and was protected in the fortress called the Wartburg. Luthers vigorous defense

    of his beliefs at Worms gained him the support of many Germans who also

    hoped for religious and social reform. A large number of princes proceeded to

    establish state-dominated churches in their territories. Luther also replaced the

    Catholic mass with a new liturgy based on the reading of the Scriptures, preaching,

    and the singing of hymns.

    At the Wartburg Luther began his translation of the Bible. His teachings were

    now spread far and wide among the German people by his followers in the

    Augustinian religious order, the lower clergy, and various humanists. A propaganda

    war now also ensued between Catholics and Protestants. Not only oral

    but especially printed propaganda became a potent weapon. The printing press

    was a crucial medium that placed the dissemination of Lutheran ideas beyond

    the usual control of the church. Luther translated the New Testament in 1522

    and the rest of the Bible by 1534. It is undoubtedly true that the religious revolution

    associated with the Protestant Reformation was due in large part to the

    availability of hundreds of thousands of copies of the Scriptures.

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