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To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation (German : An den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation) is the first of three tracts written by Martin Luther in 1520. In this work, he defined for the first time the signature doctrines of the priesthood of all believers and the two kingdoms. The work was written in the vernacular language German and not in Latin.
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
Martin Luther, was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.
The two kingdoms doctrine is a Protestant Christian doctrine that teaches that God is the ruler of the whole world and that he rules in two ways. The doctrine is held by Lutherans and represents the view of some Calvinists. John Calvin significantly modified Martin Luther's original two kingdoms doctrine and certain neo-Calvinists have adopted a different view known as transformationalism.
The Disputation of Leipzig (1519) brought Luther into contact with the humanists, particularly Melanchthon, Reuchlin, Erasmus, and associates of the knight Ulrich von Hutten, who, in turn, influenced the knight Franz von Sickingen.Von Sickingen and Silvester of Schauenburg wanted to place Luther under their protection by inviting him to their fortresses in the event that it would not be safe for him to remain in Saxony because of the threatened papal ban. Between the Edict of Worms in April 1521 and Luther's return from the Wartburg in March 1522 a power struggle developed of who was to lead the Reformation through its competing possibilities and how the Reformers should follow their teachings. In Wittenberg each interested party – prince, town council and commune – wished to expand its influence on the governance of the church in accord with its own values and needs. Through this the question of authority appeared. The church made a strong attempt at drawing distinct lines on saying who had authority in the spiritual sphere and its matters. This division of Christians into spheres motivated Luther to write on the "three walls" the "Romanists" created to protect themselves from reform, this was the letter "to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation"
Johann Reuchlin, Count Palatine by Imperial and Papal Authority was a German-born Catholic humanist and a scholar of Greek and Hebrew, whose work also took him to modern-day Austria, Switzerland, and Italy and France. Most of Reuchlin's career centered on advancing German knowledge of Greek and Hebrew.
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, known as Erasmus or Erasmus of Rotterdam, was a Dutch Christian humanist who is widely considered to have been the greatest scholar of the northern Renaissance. Originally trained as a Catholic priest, Erasmus was an important figure in classical scholarship who wrote in a pure Latin style. Among humanists he enjoyed the sobriquet "Prince of the Humanists", and has been called "the crowning glory of the Christian humanists". Using humanist techniques for working on texts, he prepared important new Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament, which raised questions that would be influential in the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation. He also wrote On Free Will,In Praise of Folly, Handbook of a Christian Knight, On Civility in Children, Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style, Julius Exclusus, and many other works.
Ulrich von Hutten was a German scholar, poet and satirist, who later became a follower of Martin Luther and a Protestant reformer.
Under these circumstances, complicated by the crisis then confronting the German nobles, Luther issued his To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation (Aug. 1520), committing to the laity, as spiritual priests, the reformation required by God but neglected by the pope and the clergy.This treatise, which has been called a "cry from the heart of the people" and a "blast on the war trumpet," was the first publication Luther produced after he was convinced that a break with Rome was both inevitable and unavoidable. In it he attacked what he regarded as the "three walls of the Romanists": (1) that secular authority has no jurisdiction over them; (2) that only the pope is able to explain Scripture; (3) that nobody but the Pope himself can call a general church council.
In religious organizations, the laity consists of all members who are not part of the clergy, usually including any non-ordained members of religious institutes, e.g. a nun or lay brother.
A priest or priestess is a religious leader authorized to perform the sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities. Their office or position is the priesthood, a term which also may apply to such persons collectively.
|Separation of church and state in the history of the Catholic Church|
The first wall of the "Romanists" that Luther criticized was that of the division of the spiritual and temporal state. Through this criticism Luther states how there is no difference among these states beyond that of office. He elaborates further by quoting Saint Peter and the Book of Revelation stating that through baptism we were consecrated as priests. Through this statement he attempts to diminish the Church's authority significantly and describes priests as nothing more than "functionaries". Luther provides the example of "if ten brothers, co-heirs as king's sons, were to choose one from among them to rule over their inheritance, they would all still remain kings and have equal power, although one is ordered to govern."From this statement Luther calls for religious office to be held by elected officials, stating that "if a thing is common to all, no man may take it to himself without the wish and command of the community." Therefore, through this criticism of the first wall one can see Luther taking authority from the Church by saying that everyone is a priest and giving more authority to govern to the temporal sphere. The problem that arises out of this can be found in a letter written by an anonymous Nürnberger, "Whether Secular Government has the Right to Wield the Sword in Matters of Faith." This article raises the question of how much governing control was acceptable for the temporal authorities to have over the spiritual sphere. From Luther's letter temporal authorities took too much control and were executing and banishing for reasons of faith, but at the same time the papists were burning and hanging "everyone who is not of their faith." Thus, the question of who was to have authority to govern the spiritual sphere.
Saint Peter, also known as Simon Peter, Simeon, Simon, Sham'un al-Safa, Cephas, or Peter the Apostle, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, and the first leader of the early Church.
The Book of Revelation, often called the Book of Revelations, Revelation to John, the Apocalypse of John, The Revelation, or simply Revelation, the Revelation of Jesus Christ or the Apocalypse, is the final book of the New Testament, and therefore also the final book of the Christian Bible. It occupies a central place in Christian eschatology. Its title is derived from the first word of the text, written in Koine Greek: apokalypsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation" (before title pages and titles, books were commonly known by the incipit, their first words, as is also the case of the Hebrew Five Books of Moses. The Book of Revelation is the only apocalyptic document in the New Testament canon The only extended passage in the Old Testament is in the Book of Daniel.
In the second part of the letter to the Christian nobility of the German nation, Luther debates the point that it is the Pope's sole authority to interpret, or confirm interpretation of, scriptures, the large problem being that there is no proof announcing this authority is the Pope's alone and thus assuming this authority for themselves.Through this criticism, Luther allows the laity to have a standard to base their faith on and not an official's interpretation, thus detracting more from the Church's control over the sphere. This criticism, unlike in the first wall, supported a strong base of the reformation, the break away from the rules and traditions of the Catholic Church. The Reformation was based on setting the standard on the Scriptures, not on church dogma. Through this reformers were able to have a standard to look to for laws and regulations concerning their faith.
|Papal primacy and infallibility|
This final part to Luther's letter is the largest demonstration of his desire to see authority in control over the spiritual sphere shift to the temporal sphere. The Church was able to protect itself by preventing anyone other than the Pope from calling a council to discuss spiritual affairs. To this, Luther states that anyone should have the ability to call a council if they find a problem or issue of the spiritual sphere. Further, Luther delegates the "temporal authorities" to be best suited for calling a council as they are "fellow-Christians, fellow-priests, sharing one spirit and one power in all things, and [thus] they should exercise the office that they received from God."This shift in power to the temporal authorities in faith matters became a larger problem later in the Reformation. Confrontations arose as to who had the right to interfere in matters of faith, such as at what point is it acceptable for the government to stop a new religion from forming. An example of this confrontation can be found in a document by an unknown Nürnberger entitled "Whether Secular Government has the Right to Wield the Sword in Matters of Faith." This document asked if military force employed to stop uprising violence, whether applied by the government or the church, is the Christian thing to do. Some believed that violence begot more violence, that "those that lived by the sword would die by the sword;" others believed it was the secular sphere's duty to protect its people and stop new faiths from forming. They made use of the Old Testament as proof for their statements, thus relying on old tradition and papal interpretation.
Therefore, it was through criticisms of these walls that Luther broke down the spiritual sphere's influence as a separate sphere that was more important than the temporal sphere; thus he was able to shift its power to the temporal authorities. This letter broke down the barrier between the spiritual and the temporal sphere and thus had a large impact on the laity, giving them control over their own faith and detracted control from the pope and the church. The statement that everyone was their own priest sent shock waves through the reformation which gave Luther his push for a faith based on the standard of the scripture which allowed people to interpret the scripture themselves. There were reactions to the shift of power to the temporal authorities, and questions of how much governing power they should receive, but this shift was the beginning of a new reformation controlled by the state and based on accessible scripture that every Christian was able to interpret.
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Sola Scriptura is a theological doctrine held by some Christian denominations that the Christian scriptures are the sole source of authority for Christian faith and practice.
The Great Apostasy is a concept within Christianity, identifiable at least from the time of Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation, to describe a perception that the early apostolic Church has fallen away from the original faith founded by Jesus and promulgated through his twelve Apostles. Protestants used the term to describe the perceived fallen state of traditional Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic Church, because they claim it changed the doctrines of the early church and allowed traditional Greco-Roman culture into the church on its own perception of authority. Because it made these changes using claims of tradition and not from scripture, the Church -- in the opinion of those adhering to this concept -- has fallen into apostasy. A major thread of this perception is the suggestion that, to attract and convert people to Christianity, the church in Rome incorporated pagan beliefs and practices within the Christian religion, mostly Graeco-Roman rituals, mysteries, and festivals. For example, Easter has been described as a pagan substitute for the Jewish Passover, although neither Jesus nor his Apostles enjoined the keeping of this or any other festival.
The Ninety-five Theses or Disputation on the Power of Indulgences is a list of propositions for an academic disputation written in 1517 by Martin Luther, professor of moral theology at the University of Wittenberg, Germany. They advanced Luther's positions against what he saw as the abuse of the practice of clergy selling plenary indulgences, which were certificates believed to reduce the temporal punishment in purgatory for sins committed by the purchasers or their loved ones. In the Theses, Luther claimed that the repentance required by Christ in order for sins to be forgiven involves inner spiritual repentance rather than merely external sacramental confession. He argued that indulgences led Christians to avoid true repentance and sorrow for sin, believing that they could forgo it by purchasing an indulgence. They also, according to Luther, discouraged Christians from giving to the poor and performing other acts of mercy, believing that indulgence certificates were more spiritually valuable. Though Luther claimed that his positions on indulgences accorded with those of the Pope, the Theses challenge a 14th-century papal bull stating that the pope could use the treasury of merit and the good deeds of past saints to forgive temporal punishment for sins. The Theses are framed as propositions to be argued in debate rather than necessarily representing Luther's opinions, but Luther later clarified his views in the Explanations of the Disputation Concerning the Value of Indulgences.
The Diet of Worms 1521 was an imperial diet (assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire called by King Charles V. It was held at the Heylshof Garden in Worms, then an Imperial Free City of the Empire. An imperial diet was a formal deliberative assembly of the whole Empire. This one is most memorable for the Edict of Worms, which addressed Martin Luther and the effects of the Protestant Reformation. It was conducted from 28 January to 25 May 1521, with the Emperor Charles V presiding.
John Jewel of Devon, England was Bishop of Salisbury from 1559 to 1571.
Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants is a piece written by Martin Luther in response to the German Peasants' War. Beginning in 1524 and ending in 1526, the Peasants' War was a result of a tumultuous collection of grievances in many different spheres: political, economic, social, and theological. Martin Luther is often considered to be the foundation for the Peasants' Revolt; however, he maintained allegiance to the Princes against the violence of the rebels. Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants typifies Luther's reaction to the Peasants' War, and alludes to Luther's concern that he might be seen to be responsible for their rebellion.
Protestantism originated from the Protestation at Speyer in 1529, where the nobility protested against enforcement of the Edict of Worms which subjected advocates of Lutheranism to forfeiture of all of their property. However, the theological underpinnings go back much further, as Protestant theologians of the time cited both Church Fathers and the Apostles to justify their choices and formulations. The earliest origin of Protestantism is controversial; with some Protestants today claiming origin back to groups in the early church deemed heretical such as the Montanists.
On the Bondage of the Will, by Martin Luther, was published in December 1525. It was his reply to Desiderius Erasmus' De libero arbitrio diatribe sive collatio or On Free Will, which had appeared in September 1524 as Erasmus' first public attack on Luther after Erasmus had been wary about the methods of Luther for many years. At issue was whether human beings, after the Fall of Man, are free to choose good or evil. The debate between Luther and Erasmus is one of the earliest of the Reformation over the issue of free will and predestination.
Synod of Homberg consisted of the clergy, the nobility, and the representatives of cities, and was held October 20–22, 1526. The synod is remarkable for a premature scheme of democratic church government and discipline, which failed for the time, but contained fruitful germs for the future and for other countries. It was suggested by the disputations which had been held at Zürich for the introduction of the Zwinglian Reformation.
Lutheranism as a religious movement originated in the early 16th century Holy Roman Empire as an attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church. The movement originated with the call for a public debate regarding several issues within the Catholic Church by Martin Luther, then a professor of Bible at the young University of Wittenberg. Lutheranism soon became a wider religious and political movement within the Holy Roman Empire owing to support from key electors and the widespread adoption of the printing press. This movement soon spread throughout northern Europe and became the driving force behind the wider Protestant Reformation. Today, Lutheranism has spread from Europe to all six populated continents.
The theology of Martin Luther was instrumental in influencing the Protestant Reformation, specifically topics dealing with Justification by Faith, the relationship between the Law and the Gospel, and various other theological ideas. Although Luther never wrote a "systematic theology" or a "summa" in the style of St. Thomas Aquinas, many of his ideas were systematized in the Lutheran Confessions.
The doctrine of the Trinity, considered the core of Christian theology by Trinitarians, is the result of continuous exploration by the church of the biblical data, thrashed out in debate and treatises, eventually formulated at the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325 in a way they believe is consistent with the biblical witness, and further refined in later councils and writings. The most widely recognized Biblical foundations for the doctrine's formulation are in the Gospel of John.
The theology of Huldrych Zwingli was based on the Bible, taking scripture as the inspired word of God and placing its authority higher than what he saw as human sources such as the ecumenical councils and the church fathers. He also recognised the human element within the inspiration noting the differences in the canonical gospels. Zwinglianism is the Reformed confession based on the Second Helvetic Confession promulgated by Zwingli's successor Heinrich Bullinger in the 1560s.
Propaganda during the Reformation, helped by the spread of the printing press throughout Europe and in particular within Germany, caused new ideas, thoughts, and doctrine to be made available to the public in ways that had never been seen before the sixteenth century. The printing press was invented in approximately 1450 and quickly spread to other major cities around Europe; by the time the Reformation was underway in 1517 there were printing centers in over 200 of the major European cities. These centers became the primary producers of Reformation works by the Protestants, and in some cases Counter-Reformation works put forth by the Roman Catholics.
In 16th-century Christianity, Protestantism came to the forefront and marked a significant change in the Christian world.
The Augsburg Confession, also known as the Augustan Confession or the Augustana from its Latin name, Confessio Augustana, is the primary confession of faith of the Lutheran Church and one of the most important documents of the Protestant Reformation. The Augsburg Confession was written in both German and Latin and was presented by a number of German rulers and free-cities at the Diet of Augsburg on 25 June 1530.
Famuli vestrae pietatis, also known by the Latin mnemonic duo sunt, is a letter written in 494 by Pope Gelasius I to Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I Dicorus which expressed the Gelasian doctrine. According to commentary in the Enchiridion symbolorum, the letter is "the most celebrated document of the ancient Church concerning the two powers on earth." The Gelasian doctrine articulates a Christian theology about division of authority and power. All Medieval theories about division of power between priestly spiritual authority and secular temporal authority were versions of the Gelasian doctrine. According to the Gelasian doctrine, secular temporal authority is inferior to priestly spiritual authority since a priestly spiritual authority is responsible for the eternal condition of both a secular temporal authority and the subjects of that secular temporal authority but "implies that the priestly authority is inferior to the secular authority in the secular domain."
The Obedience of a Christen man, and how Christen rulers ought to govern, wherein also thou shalt find eyes to perceive the crafty convience of all iugglers. is a 1528 book by the English Protestant author William Tyndale. Its title is now commonly modernized in its spelling and abbreviated to The Obedience of a Christian Man. It was first published by Merten de Keyser in Antwerp, and is best known for advocating that the king of a country was the head of that country's church, rather than the pope, and to be the first instance, in the English language at any rate, of advocating the divine right of kings, a concept mistakenly attributed to the Catholic Church.