Essay on The German Reformation

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The German Reformation

The Reformation of the Catholic Church was always going to happen; it was just a question of when? For centuries the Church had been fighting off herises. In Germany between 1513 and 1530, it just so happened that a number of key factors for the Reformation co-insided. The clearly corrupted church and papacy; the development of printing; the arrival and actions of Martin Luther and public opinion; the absence of the Emperor in the 1520’s and the way Erasmus and his writing had opened up the criticisms of the Papacy, these were all key factors of the German Reformation. I will examine these key factors.

In the 1420’s the people of the Holy Roman Empire were encouraged to
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It was this, which got Luther noticed. The people in Germany were feeling ‘Anfechtung’ tension between society and the Church. ‘Anfechtung’ was the spiritual anxiety felt by a lot of Germans. The German Church lacked leadership and it resented giving all their money to the Papacy, who were mostly Italian. When Luther wrote the theses he was seen as a prophet who had come to lead the way for the arrival of Christ. Luther was seen as a ‘John the Baptist’ character.

With the development of printing, Luther’s ideas were spread a lot quicker throughout Germany and beyond. In the 1520’s Luther wrote three pamphlets, which expressed his ideas on Catholicism. The first was; ‘Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation.’ This pamphlet emphasised the corruption of the Papacy, with their sexual permissiveness, luxury and evil notions. The Church was more about money than God. Luther also made clear that priests were ordinary men, not closer to God, or to God’s representations. The first pamphlet also introduced the idea of ‘sola fide’ to the ordinary Germans. This is the idea that by faith alone, you will go to heaven.

The ideas of the first pamphlet were very successful, because it was what the German people wanted to believe. No longer were they condemned in eternal hell, or paying
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