History: Christian/Luther's Movement Of Liberation term paper 13403

History: Christian term papers
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Luther's Movement of Liberation Luther's teachings opened up an entire new freedom to the peasant class. The peasants were now free from the bonds of rigorous catholic doctrine that had kept them at the mercy of the Machiavellian papacy, who passed law not for the good of the masses, but to please their own ends. The revelation that Luther brings to light is that the Christian soul only needed faith, and faith alone to reach heaven. During the passages, Luther never speaks of the catholic purgatory to atone for the sins after death; instead, Luther believes just what is says in the Bible that Jesus Christ died for our sins. If true faith on Christ exists, one moves directly into heaven without pause. Such an angle upset a church that made money of the selling of indulgences, lessening the punishment of purgatory to the highest bidder. By this time, indulgences were also being purchased at the lowest levels of peasants by traveling preachers who scared them into the purchase with speeches of damnation and eternity, swinging within the balance of heaven and hell. Pope Leo X himself wanted rid of the sale of indulgences, until he saw what a lucrative business the afterlife was. People truly believed the same idea Christopher Columbus's had; gold made the man in this life as well as in the next. Such obvious hypocrisy tormented Luther; he wanted to reform the church from the inside. He was not out to split from the church. Luther wanted to shift the teachings back to the original texts, the Bible, and not concentrate heavily on the traditions of the Catholic Church. Luther begins to spread the message of faith. Luther tells the reader on page 8 in "Freedom of a Christian Man", to "remember what has been said, namely, that faith alone, without works, justifies, frees, and saves." Faith is the key issue. This shifts the thought that the church laws decide whether you go to heaven or hell to the idea that individuals decide on their faith; the individual is the judge on whether he will be saved, not a high church official. This shift promotes nothing but absolute personal freedom in deciding religious matters. Individuals were encouraged to read the Bible and come to their own conclusions and interpretations of how the Bible guides one to live their life. "That which is impossible for you to accomplish by trying to fulfil all the works of the law-many and useless as they all are-you will accomplish quickly and easily through faith," states Luther. This statement brings more freedom because individuals are not bound by law, they are bound by their own faith. "Law is not laid down for the just," according to Luther as he quotes from 1 Timothy 1:9. Those who have faith are free from the law, for they are just. Those with faith are also free from works; according to Luther, a man is not faithful because of the good works he performs. An evil man is just as likely to be capable to do good works, but not for the right reasons. This further unties the peasants from the leaders of the Catholic Church.

It is clear to Luther "that no external thing has any influence in producing Christian righteousness or freedom, or in producing unrighteousness or servitude," especially the government. The governmental authority for every soul is not the Holy Roman Emperor, the King of France, or the Pope. "Let every soul be subject to the governing authority, for there is no governing authority except from God." This was the deciding factor for the peasants' freedom from the Catholic church. They no longer had any ties to secular laws or Catholic doctrines; those with faith needed to only answer to God, for he is the ultimate authority. In fact, Luther extends this to mean that all souls are under the government of God. He has two separate governments: one is spiritual that makes righteous Christians and a temporal government that restrains the wicked and keeps peace. It is only the Holy Spirit that holds such power. "A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none," states Luther in his opening of "Freedom of a Christian Man". The peasantry finally had the freedom to be their own lords and rule their own lives according to their individual faith. The peasants were no longer accountable to the secular and Catholic governments; they were only accountable to God and his supreme governing. They are given the freedom to interpret the Bible as they wished and choose their own minister. Psychologically, the peasants are free from purgatory and the thought of hell because of their newly found faith. Their souls were "free lord[s] of all," but their bodies were to be "servant of all, subject to all." The goodness of a Christian was not measured on their good works; although many good Christians did good works-they are servants and subject to all. This Lutheran philosophy was so different and profound from the Catholic doctrine that there was almost no way that the Catholic Church could have reformed to these new standards. Lutheran philosophy contradicted many ideas that had been in place for centuries in the Catholic Church. Such reform was destined to end in a split.Note: The citations are all from a single text: The Protestant Reformation (book), Edited by Hans J. Hillerbrand, Harper & Row: New York, 1968. The two specific readings are "Freedom of a Christian Man" and "On Govermental Authority".


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