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Christianity and the Protestant Reformation. Reformation represented a religious rebirth Before the Reformation: secularization of catholic Church With.

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Presentation on theme: "Christianity and the Protestant Reformation. Reformation represented a religious rebirth Before the Reformation: secularization of catholic Church With."— Presentation transcript:

1 Christianity and the Protestant Reformation

2 Reformation represented a religious rebirth Before the Reformation: secularization of catholic Church With Reformation Religion became (one again for 150 years more) a decisive element in politics Return to a non-corrupted Christianity Process of corruption of Roman Church

3 From spiritual power to political power From political power to Theocracy (with the Crusades) Decadence and bankrupt Avignon (1305-1378) Indulgencies



6 Martin Luther (1483-1546)

7 Augustinian priest professor of theology Most important figure of the Protestant Reformation

8 Life 1 Born 1483 in Eisleben (Saxony) Latin school – his father wanted him to become a Lawyer 1501: entered at the Univ. of Erfurt 1505: got his master's degree He believed that law represented uncertainty and moved to philosophy (unsatisfying) and then theology (Reason could not lead men to God)

9 Life 2 1505: thunderstorm and THE decision. He left law school and entered a closed Augustinian friary monastic life and in 1507 he was ordained to the priesthood 1508: bachelor's degree in Biblical studies and he began teaching theology (Univ. of Wittenberg) 1510: visited Rome and shocked by corruption in high ecclesiastical places 1512: Doctor of Theology 1520: excommunication by Pope Leo X, after His refusal to retract all of his writings


11 Life 3 1512-46: member of the senate of the theological faculty (Univ. of Wittenberg) 1525: Married Katharina von Bora (26 years old). They had 6 children

12 Major Works 1517: 95 Theses 1520: The Freedom of a Christian 1522: translation of the New Testament into German (to make it more accessible to the commoners and erode the influence of priests) 1523: On Secular Authority 1534: translation of the Bible


14 On secular authority (1523) How can a Christian use be made of it and far do Christians owe it obedience?

15 Part 1 Thesis I: our first task is [to find] a firm grounding for secular law and the Sword. Whoever resists the power, resists God’s ordinance How the secular Sword and law are to be employed according to God’s will is thus clear and certain enough: to punish the wicked and protect the just (6)

16 Thesis 2-3: we must divide all mankind into two parts: the first belong to the kingdom of God, the second to the kingdom of the world (8) If all the world were true Christians… there would be neither need nor use for the prince, kings, lords, the Sword or law (9) [Human Nature]: … but since no man is by nature a Christian or just, but all are sinners and evil… (10)

17 Thesis 4: All those who are not Christians [in the above sense] belong to the kingdom of the world or [in other words] are under the law. For the rest God has established another government, outside the Christian estate and the kingdom of God However much they would like to do evil, they are unable to act in accordance with their inclinations, or, if they do, they cannot do so without fear (10)

18 [Human nature]: scarcely one human being in a thousand is a true Christian (10) So God has ordained the two governments: the spiritual [government] which fashions true Christians and just persons through the Holy Spirit under Christ, and the secular government which holds the Unchristians and wicked in check and forces them to keep the peace outwardly and be still, like it or not (10-11)

19 The wicked under cover of the name of Christians, would misuse the freedom of the Gospel, would work their wickedness (11) Therefore care must be taken to keep these two governments distinct, and both must be allowed to continue [their work], the one to make [people] just, the other to create outward peace and prevent evildoing (12)

20 Thesis 5: Christians among themselves and for themselves need no law and no Sword. (…) [but] the Sword is indispensable for the whole world (13) [the Christian serves the authority not] because he himself stands in need of it, but because other do, in order that they might enjoy protection, and so that the wicked might not grow even worse (14)

21 Thesis 6: You ask whether a Christian can even wield the secular Sword and punish the wicked [himself]… If you see that there is a lack of hangmen, court officials, judges, lords or princes, and you find that you have the necessary skills, than you should offer your services and seek office (15)

22 Even though Christ did not bear or teach the Sword himself, it is enough that he did not forbid or abolish but rather confirmed it, just as it is enough that he did not abolish the married state but confirmed it (19) Christian are neither to employ nor to call on the Sword for themselves and in their own concerns. But they may and should use it and call on it for the sake of the others, so that evil may be prevented and justice upheld (21)

23 Part Two How far secular authority extends

24 Now we must establish how long [secular authority] reach is, and how far it may stretch out its arm without overreaching itself and trenching upon God’s kingdom (22) Where secular authority takes it upon itself to legislate for the soul, it trespasses on God’s government, and merely seduces and ruins souls (23)

25 My ungracious lords, pope and bishops, should be [real] bishops and preach the word of God, but they have left off doing so and have become secular princes, ruling by means of laws that concern only life and goods (26- 27) St Paul [did not say] that worldly authority ought to have the right to command faith (28)

26 Secular obedience and power extend only to taxes, duties, honour, fear, outward things (28) Human ordinance cannot extend to heaven and the soul, but only to the earth and the outward dealings of men with one another (28) What od priests and bishops? Their government is not one of superiority or power, but rather a service and an office (33)

27 Their government is nothing but furtherance of the Word of God, guiding Christians and overcoming heresy by means of it. (…) Christians can be governed by nothing except the Word of God alone (33) Those who do not have faith are not Christians and do not belong to Christ’s kingdom, but to the kingdom of the world, to be coerced and ruled by the Sword and by external government. Christians do everything that is good, without any compulsion, and have all they need in God’s Word (34)

28 Part Three How far secular authority extends [and] how a prince should go about exercising it (34) The Christian way is that no ruler is to wage war against his overlord, be he the King, the Emperor, or any other liege-lord (…) For superiors are not to be resisted by force, but only by witnessing to the truth. If they take any notice, well and good. If not you are guiltless and you suffer injustice for God’s sake (39)

29 What if a prince is wrong? People not obliged to obey him As long as [people] do not know and cannot find out [if he is right] … they may obey without danger to their souls (40)

30 A prince ought to comfort himself in 4 ways: 1. towards God with real confidence and heartfelf prayer 2. to his subjects with love and Christian service 3. toward his counsellors and great men, with free reason and unbound understanding 4. toward evil-doers with condign gravity and severity (41)

31 Political Thought (an overview) Theology: only the faith is the key to the redemption After the excommunication Luther went beyond the merely theological-doctrinary dispute and entered in history of political thought Radical break with Roman Church: against the centrality of the priest and of sacerdotal functions (mediation between (wo)men and god

32 Universal priesthood (and only 2 sacraments) Freedom of Christians but – at the same time – duty to obey to political authorities Activism in religious matters but obedience in politics Centrality of the authority

33 The function of the power: in Middle Ages spiritual power of the Church was always beside political power (often in a stronger position) With Luther this disappears (where the Reformation won)

34 Theory of the two kingdoms Importance of the obedience Theory of resistance exclusively passive A new relationship between the freedom of the subject and political power

35 Luther and Peasants’ War 1 1524-25 Peasants’ War: the conflict, occurred in now modern Germany, involved about 300,000 peasant rebels (the Twelve articles) 100,000 deaths. It was Europe's largest and most widespread popular uprising prior to the French Revolution of 1789 Thomas Müntzer was the most important figure Anabaptists: Luther’s reform (he practiced infant baptism) was not radical enough



38 Luther and Peasants’ War 2 May 1525: Luther’s script Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants. He took sides for the authorities against the peasants’ destruction. He condemned the violence as the devil's work, and called for the nobles to put down the rebels like mad dogs In choosing violence over lawful submission to the secular government, peasant were ignoring Christ's counsel to "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's“

39 Luther and Peasants’ War 3 He asked Lords to kill the peasants and completely differentiate himself from rebels Dialectics/Doctrine about the two kingdoms Müntzer: put temporal authority under spiritual authority Luther: in the end he assigned more and more sacerdotal functions to the secular authority (in order to go against Müntzer and anabaptists, he reconsidered the distinctions he highlighted earlier in his writings)

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