“Luther was both a revolutionary and a conservative.” Evaluate this statement with respect to Luther’s responses to the political and social questions of his day.
Martin Luther was one of the greatest monks, priests, and theological teachers of Germany, along with being the symbol of the Protestant Reformation. He did not start off so religious however. One day he was caught in a frightening and dangerous storm. He prayed to God begging not to be killed, and vowed to become a monk if he survived. He did live, upholding his word to the lord, and joined a monastery. He joined an Augustinian friary in 1505, where he suffered from anfechtung, or spiritual anxiety. He never knew if he was doing enough good works to achieve salvation and gain entrance to the kingdom of heaven, as it was believed by the Catholic religion that it took good works along with faith in order to enter. To take his mind off of his religious worries, he was recommended to a teaching post at the University of Wittenberg. There, he taught theology and was quite popular among his students. Luther suffered from constant constipation, so he often read the bible while on the toilet. One day while doing this a certain passage from the epistle of St. Paul to the Romans: “the just shall live by faith,” which led to Luther’s core belief of sola fide, or faith alone. Through this belief, Luther believed that the only thing needed to achieve salvation was to live by faith alone, which challenged the Roman Catholic Church’s theology that both faith and good works were necessary. Luther shared his beliefs with the people of the Holy Roman Empire, demanding change to the way theology was widely taught. He agreed with parts of the current teachings and was conservative, wanting to keep parts of the religion the same. He kept the sacraments, however reduced the amount of them from 7 to 2. He was also like many Roman Catholic religious figures, anti-Semitic. Lutheranism, as his religion came to be called, became more submissive to the state as well. However Luther also had many revolutionary ideas, which angered those of the RCC. In response to the political problems, he wished to do away with the process of indulgences, which were no more than pieces of paper in his eyes as works had nothing to do with salvation. His nailing of the 95 Theses highly angered the church authorities, as it went against everything they taught and believe. However in his response to the social problem of the Peasant’s Revolt, he told the princes to crush those who rebelled, as social revolution was not his intention. After careful evaluation, Martin Luther has proven to be both a revolutionary as well as a conservative. Luther proved himself time and again of his revolutionary approach to religion. His best example of this was the 95 Theses. Johann Tetzel, a German Roman Catholic priest, was selling an expensive indulgence as a fund-raising idea of Pope Leo X to finance the building of St. Peters basilica. When one of Luther’s parishioners came to confession, he presented an indulgence he had paid for, claiming he no longer had to repent of his sins, since the document promised to forgive all his sins. Luther was outraged, and wrote up the Ninety-Five Theses, protesting the sale of indulgences, which he proceeded to nail to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg Germany. He did this on a major Catholic holiday, All Saints Day, which struck at the core of the Catholic religion. The most prominent, challenging, and well known was Theses 86 which read "Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of Saint Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?" He said indulgences did not do what the Church said it did because salvation was granted by sola fide. The ideas in the Ninety-Five Theses quickly spread throughout Europe via the moveable...
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