Luther’s theological development, 1517-30 Richard Fitzsimmons Strathallan School
Theological development <ul><li>All through his life Luther suffered from pangs of self-doubt and spiritual temptation – s...
The 95 Theses ( Oct.1517 ) <ul><li>Written as a response to Luther’s revulsion at the claims Tetzel and others were making...
Theological principles … <ul><li>These had been honed through discussion with Cajetan in 1518, debate with Johannes Eck at...
On the Papacy in Rome  ( June 1520 ) <ul><li>Written in German </li></ul><ul><li>Written in response to an attack by the L...
An Appeal To The Christian Nobility of the German Nation ( August 1520 ) <ul><li>This was Luther’s most popular treatise o...
The Babylonian Captivity of the Church ( September 1520 ) <ul><li>Written in Latin and intended for an academic audience <...
The Freedom of a Christian Man ( Nov.1520 ) <ul><li>Written in German and Latin, perhaps a work of conciliation towards Po...
Against the Murdering and Thieving Hordes of Peasants ( May 1525 ) <ul><li>Written at the height of the Peasants War in re...
Biblical Translations In terms of their effects, and the amount of work he put in, these are perhaps Luther’s finest achie...
What had Luther done ? <ul><li>Of primary importance for an understanding of Luther’s theology is an appreciation of the p...
What had Luther done ? <ul><li>He had placed the Papacy at the centre of matters; having begun with a rather low-key invit...
Luther’s theology: an overview Priesthood of all Believers Rejection of Transubstantiation Justification ‘ Sola Fide’ Emph...
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Luthers Theological Development

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Luthers Theological Development

  1. 1. Luther’s theological development, 1517-30 Richard Fitzsimmons Strathallan School
  2. 2. Theological development <ul><li>All through his life Luther suffered from pangs of self-doubt and spiritual temptation – some have tried to argue that he was psychologically unstable </li></ul><ul><li>His early theological development is due to two factors – the counselling of Johan Staupitz, and his own study of Hebrew (from 1509) </li></ul><ul><li>Even at this early stage he began to emphasise the Biblical relationship between God and Man </li></ul><ul><li>BUT , the real difference came with his appointment as Doctor of Theology in 1512, which brought preaching responsibilities at Wittenberg University </li></ul><ul><li>1513-17: lecture series on Psalms, Romans, Galatians, Hebrews </li></ul><ul><li>He abandoned the idea of God as vengeful deity, and came to see Christ as a symbol of hope = God wants to give people salvation, rather than exacting punishment and then giving it. All a man had to do was accept God’s freely given gift </li></ul><ul><li>Justification by faith alone = sola fide </li></ul>
  3. 3. The 95 Theses ( Oct.1517 ) <ul><li>Written as a response to Luther’s revulsion at the claims Tetzel and others were making for indulgences </li></ul><ul><li>Appeared after his sermon against indulgences of Oct. 1516 </li></ul><ul><li>Attacked the doctrine of the Treasury of Merit – and said that indulgences could only be used to forgive sins against Church law </li></ul><ul><li>Indulgences cannot be bought or sold, as God’s forgiveness and salvation are not as commodities for sale </li></ul><ul><li>Said the Pope had no power over souls in purgatory </li></ul><ul><li>Said that the true penitent would not seek to evade punishment for his sins, nor are indulgences necessary as God’s forgiveness is automatically available </li></ul><ul><li>This also sees his first real emphasis on the preaching of the Gospel, and the authority to be found in the Scriptures </li></ul>
  4. 4. Theological principles … <ul><li>These had been honed through discussion with Cajetan in 1518, debate with Johannes Eck at Leipzig in 1519, and through his writings on Indulgences </li></ul><ul><li>He had attacked the authority of the Papacy and the Church - that they could make mistakes, whereas Scripture was the only source of true authority. He had emphasised the authority of Scripture more than previous ‘reformers’ </li></ul><ul><li>He had become convinced that Rome was the city of evil, Babylon and the Antichrist </li></ul><ul><li>He believed that the only certain way to salvation was through Justification by faith alone – this was the so-called ‘Tower experience’ derived from St Paul’s letters </li></ul>
  5. 5. On the Papacy in Rome ( June 1520 ) <ul><li>Written in German </li></ul><ul><li>Written in response to an attack by the Leipzig Franciscan theologian Augustine Alveld </li></ul><ul><li>Argued that Christendom was a congregation of all believers on earth </li></ul><ul><li>Publicised his attack on the Papacy’s claim to be head of the Christian church </li></ul><ul><li>He said that the Church’s spiritual and physical power ought to be separated </li></ul>
  6. 6. An Appeal To The Christian Nobility of the German Nation ( August 1520 ) <ul><li>This was Luther’s most popular treatise of 1520 and was dedicated to Nikolaus von Amsdorf – 4000 copies sold in 2 weeks </li></ul><ul><li>Written in German and directed at the rulers of Germany’s many states, including the Emperor Charles V – invited them to take the initiative in the reform of Church and Society (had Luther already abandoned any notion of reforming the Church from within ?) </li></ul><ul><li>Sharp criticism of Rome – Papacy had built 3 walls to protect itself (superiority of spiritual authority, claims of popes to interpret Scripture, assertion that each pope was superior to a Church Council) </li></ul><ul><li>Argued that the Papacy had abrogated its responsibility to repress abuses in the Church </li></ul><ul><li>Luther condemned the idea of a separate spiritual domain, and argued for a ‘priesthood of all believers’ in which each man could help determine his own path towards salvation </li></ul>
  7. 7. The Babylonian Captivity of the Church ( September 1520 ) <ul><li>Written in Latin and intended for an academic audience </li></ul><ul><li>Argued that the papacy held the Church captive with man-made beliefs and practices, rather than basing teachings on Scriptures </li></ul><ul><li>He saw the 7 sacraments as a ‘tyranny’ perpetuated by ‘anti-Christs’ who had set themselves in Christ’s place </li></ul><ul><li>He reduced the number of sacraments to 2 – Baptism and the sharing of the bread and wine (Eucharist) – the only two that could be justified by the New Testament – the other 5 were invalid, though he thought that penance still had a place in the practices of the faithful </li></ul><ul><li>He argued that forgiveness of sins was a matter between the individual and God, not the priest </li></ul><ul><li>He said that priests were no different to other people, but that they had to be authorised by the community to carry out certain functions – henceforth Lutheran priests/ministers would be chosen by their congregations. </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Freedom of a Christian Man ( Nov.1520 ) <ul><li>Written in German and Latin, perhaps a work of conciliation towards Pope Leo X, though it gives notice that he will not recant and is distancing himself further from Rome </li></ul><ul><li>Contained a call for the summoning of a general council of the Church </li></ul><ul><li>Developed further his idea of ‘Justification by faith alone’, and clarified his opinions on the worth of doing ‘good works’ … </li></ul><ul><li>Contained the sum total of what Luther wanted to teach about Christian Life </li></ul><ul><li>‘ A Christian is a perfectly free lord, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.’ </li></ul>
  9. 9. Against the Murdering and Thieving Hordes of Peasants ( May 1525 ) <ul><li>Written at the height of the Peasants War in response to the outrages and excesses of the peasants, not least the opposition and insults thrown at Luther by Thomas M ü ntzer </li></ul><ul><li>He said the rebels deserved death, ‘…for they have forsaken their vow of obedience and struck out at legitimate authority. They are makers of sedition, blasphemers of God, masking their deeds under the pretext of the Gospel.’ </li></ul><ul><li>He believed that in rebelling against legitimate authority, the peasants were placing themselves above God. </li></ul><ul><li>This was the pamphlet that persuaded the city authorities and nobility that Luther was somewhat of a social conservative at heart – the peasants, on the other hand, thought he had betrayed his own social order. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Biblical Translations In terms of their effects, and the amount of work he put in, these are perhaps Luther’s finest achievements. Even Catholics used his translation 1522 – the ‘September Testament’ was published – Luther’s translation of the New Testament which was enormously successful – 85 editions over 11 years (200,000+ copies) 1534 – his translation of the Bible appeared greatly strengthened the place of the German language in literature
  11. 11. What had Luther done ? <ul><li>Of primary importance for an understanding of Luther’s theology is an appreciation of the pamphlets of 1520, and the principles which underpinned them. </li></ul><ul><li>Luther did not intend to set up an alternative Church system or theology. Through the reaction to the 95 Theses of October 1517, the conversations with Cardinal Cajetan and others in 1518, and most importantly through the Leipzig Disputations of 1519, Luther found himself refining his theological beliefs and moving in what could be perceived as a more radical direction. </li></ul><ul><li>By the end of 1520, after the completion of his four major pamphlets, his ‘new theology’ was almost complete, though details still had to be argued over, refined or defended. The process was unsystematic and the result of Luther’s spontaneous responses to ideas, events and his opponents. </li></ul>
  12. 12. What had Luther done ? <ul><li>He had placed the Papacy at the centre of matters; having begun with a rather low-key invitation to academic debate over the efficacy of Indulgences in October 1517, he had been led in the direction of the assertion that the Papacy was analogous to the Anti-Christ. </li></ul><ul><li>He had advanced the idea that all one needed for salvation was faith ( sola fide )  </li></ul><ul><li>He had placed an emphasis on the spiritual authority of Scriptures that no-one else had advanced to the same extent ( sola scriptura )  </li></ul><ul><li>He had developed the idea of the ‘Priesthood of all believers’ which attacked the role of the priest as developed in late Mediaeval Catholic doctrine  </li></ul><ul><li>He had attacked the 7 Sacraments and reduced their number, first to three and, subsequently, to two (baptism and the Eucharist)  </li></ul><ul><li>He had rejected transubstantiation  </li></ul><ul><li>He had developed the meaning of Christian freedom. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Luther’s theology: an overview Priesthood of all Believers Rejection of Transubstantiation Justification ‘ Sola Fide’ Emphasis on Scripture Gospel –v- tradition Rejection of good works as means to salvation Rejection of penitential cycle/reduction of sacraments Attack on role of the priest Vernacular Scripture Emphasis on lack of Free Will Sacrifice of the Mass not necessary: already done

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