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Martin Luther’s To the Christian Nobility Of the German Nation effectively questions why religious clergy are superior to the common man. In this Luther is effectively inciting the Protestant Reformation. Not only does this train of thought represent the changing western mind, but it sets the stage for the eighteenth century Age of Enlightenment further down the line, impacting history forever. The Protestant Reformation shows how the common people over time have become more frustrated with the imbalances of rights and liberties within religious freedom. By the early sixteenth century these people are starting to take action for themselves.
One important improvement in the history of religion that has had significant consequences on Western civilization was the Protestant Reformation. In order to understand the historical context, we need to go back to 1517. Luther proclaimed “Again, it is intolerable that in the canon law so much importance is attached to the freedom, life, and property of the clergy, as though the laity were not also as spiritual and as good Christians as they”, he is essentially protesting what he perceived as immorality and incorrect education at the Church, but this change he began came to have wider social and social ramifications. The Protestant Reformation led to this revolutionary belief that ordinary people would have the political voice, and finally hastened the development of democracy, capitalism, and philosophy among others. Later Luther quotes St. Paul “All that the canon law has said to the contrary is sheer invention of Roman presumption. For Thus says St. Paul to all Christians: Romans 13:1, 4, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers;” By using St. Paul’s own quote against him he is able to expose the flawed logic of the Clergy being subject to the same higher powers as the regular citizens but for some reason maintaining a higher power during their time here on earth. Along with the Protestant Reformation, there was also the Counter-Reformation, also called Catholic Reformation. The Roman Catholic efforts conducted in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries both against the Protestant Reformation and toward inner restoration; this Counter-Reformation took place roughly around the same period as the Protestant Reformation.
Martin Luther was born into a world dominated by the Christian faith, which carries religious dominion over all the countries of Europe. Luther, the church’s hope of redemption is overwhelming-caught in the storm, terrified by the prospect of impending death, he vows to turn into a monk. With the insight, he turns on the religion, attacking its practice of dealing Indulgences at the known 95 Theses. Martin Luther nearly single-handedly causes this Protestant Reformation with his 95 Theses. In his 51st thesis he explains, “Christians are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his own money, even though he had to sell the basilica of St. Peter,” Martin Luther is clearly making fun but being entirely serious at the same time. He’s pointing out that the power of the church is very immense and they have such valuable objects yet they do not contribute as much as the people who struggle each day to get by. Similarly in his Address to the nation, he laments very similar themes throughout. One quote in particular “Why are your life and limb, your property and honor so free, and mine not? We are all alike Christians, And have baptism, faith, Spirit and all things alike.” By asking these simple questions he both gets the society upset at their apparent inequalities and the attention of the Clergy by directly calling them out. Luther sees that historically what his people do is often think about themselves as someone they’re not or as something they’re not a part of. He wants his people to have a positive outlook and see the flaws of the system; to give them power.
Given the current political climate of Europe in the given time, a document like this was bound to come eventually, the strategies used by various of the European powers onto the people guaranteed it so. Economically, it was very obvious that Europe was capable of sustaining itself. However, the social and political structure of Europe is what made it so easy for this struggle to escalate. Through Luther’s cries for solidarity and unification help us understand the historical significance, today as readers we are given just a small sliver as to exactly how it felt for these people in this time.
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