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Lecture 7

RLGA02 – Lecture 7.docx

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David Perley

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RLGA02 – Lecture 7  There are 3 reformations: Magisterial, Radical, Counter Reformation (catholic response to the protestant reformation)  Magisterial Reformation - Luther (1483-1546) 1. Freedom in devotion  What kinds of technology was present at the time and how does the technology facilitate the success of Luther  Printing press – invaluable for Luther to get his ideas across to other people  “The press is mightier than the pen” “the pen is mightier than the sword” o Knowledge is more powerful than physical force  Luther is essential for us to understand the protestant reformation, so he’s the trigger for what happens and really once we have the trigger for protestant reformation it is the beginning of a whole new way of orienting Christianity and triggers a whole bunch of denominations and groups that come from this  Early Christianity – different gospels, different communities but eventually by the 4 thcentury it gets funneled down to a relatively consistent document  Nicene Creed  Eventually you have the east and the west split by the th 11 century th  From the 11 century, in the west the Latin church has been semi-unified monolithic consistent church, another thing to think about the protestant reformation church is the 16 thcentury explodes this view in Latin Christianity that there’s one singular faith – the catholic church, it’s gone after that  Luther in his earlier days speak of the Christian as a quote “free lord of all, subject to none or subject to nobody” but also a Christian is “dutiful servant of all subject to all” o Should sound like a somewhat of a contradiction, in one hand you’re a free lord, subject to nobody on the other hand you are also subject to everything or somebody/some group o The first one focuses on individuality and the second one is on community and in another way of thinking about community is selflessness so as a member of the community you’re identity is, the focus is not on you as the individual but as a member of a community  By combining the 2 concepts, Luther gets this idea of freedom and devotion, he wants to place emphasis on both the need or the individual to be autonomous to be an individual but also the need for these people to be part of a community  He says community but what may be the Christian word? Church  When he’s talking about freedom and devotion, he’s talking about freedom from certain things/people  freedom from the people of authority, freedom from the catholic church  When he’s saying subject to all, he means still being subject to some Christian communities just not the institutionalized, bureaucratic one that he is at the time reacting to  So I’m free then to devote myself to God and there’s no one else who had sort of ultimate control and power over me  celebrating autonomy, and in some ways in historical Christianity this is really important because we’re now talking about an individual relationship with God (one on one  take responsibilities for it by reading scripture) 2. Mediation  What is Luther reacting to, think of his issue as an issue of mediation on a whole bunch of different levels st  What does this word mean in the 21 century context o Solving a problem, so there’s usually maybe a problem and a mediator comes in to smooth over o On the one hand our general popular cultural usage a mediator is someone who kind of roughs things over, conflict resolution and we might think of that in terms of a religious tradition where the priest smooth over and helps facilitate the relationship between God and the human beings o But for Luther, mediation is an obstacle o Mediation theoretically means something stands between two things (something in between God and the person, whether it be a priest, ritual etc.) o In a positive sense that thing in between helps me to get to where I want to go, so it helps me to connect to God o But with Luther he starts to see the Church developing to this point where this is an obstacle, where its blocking us from the divine o By the 16 , 15 thcentury the Roman catholic church has undergone massive evolution, its got a whole bunch of rituals and activities to sort of slowly add on to it over time including things like the worship of saints, veneration of relics like literally their rituals surrounding the veneration of bones of certain saints or artifacts known to be in the possession of certain saints or Jesus o By the 16 thcentury there are popular things like pilgrimages, monastery, nunneries the whole leading up to into a contemporary contexts, kind of this academic culture where just sort of getting there in European culture  everything’s getting a lot more complicated o Besides that, Church is getting ridiculously rich  th how does the Church make money back in the 16 century? » Taxes, indulgences » We have a classic practice within the Church and Luther reacts to this practice in particular and writes an essay about it, but its not just the indulgences that are an issue for him, its what it leads to; it’s the idea that the sale of indulgences becomes a major distraction that gets in the way of worshipping the divine » What are the sale of indulgences? you have to imagine wealthy people, positions of power and lots of money donating money to the church and the church then transforms that money into spiritual mere and then the church applies it to the ancestors or relatives of that aristocrat  pay in order to secure salvation of a relative » For Luther, it is a perfect example of obstacles, so now we’re relying on priests, we have to pay the money to help navigate our way towards heaven » Luther believes that that is so far off the map from what he believe to be the truth, mediation is an obstacle for Luther to the relationship that he sees necessary between human beings and God o Ultimately Luther rejects all the things he sees as obstacles » He rejects the power ad authority of the pope, ritualistic activities surrounding saints and the relics, he will close down monasteries and nunneries in the region in which he secures power  radical within the christen church o Luther in some ways puts his money where his mouth is, he tries to suggest that there can be far less mediators o Luther triggers reform but he can’t consistently reforming and have to be conservative at some point o So if we’re removing some of these things within the classic traditions that are sources of authority, we had to replace them, Luther suggested reason with a conscience and scripture are the two key things we need to be a Christian o Luther was presented as a reformer but we don’t want to presume that he was the only one doing this and that he discovered reformation o At this time there were some people within the catholic church that were extremely dissatisfied with it and they were sighting criticisms and voicing their opinions as well o Luther stands out because the conflict gets so bad that he cuts himself off from the church and literally starts a whole new thing whereas the people that remained within the church like the Franciscans – an order of priest that make a vow of poverty and are completely against the wealth of the church o He’s removing obstacles to our relationship with God then he’s emphasizing that Christianity should be a more direct encounter between the people and God 3. Social, economic, political context  There are social, economic, political contexts that help lead to Luther’s success, if these factors weren’t there, the success of Luther would have gone very differently  Feudalism is really the default kind of economic structure, what is feudalism? o Surfs are like the workers and they produce stuff and they got to give a certain of what they make to the Lord o About land ownership, the rich lords own the land and get other people to work the land o We switch from feudalism to capitalism » We have primarily in urban areas the manufacturing class, so now we have people who get other people to make things in an urban setting instead of having them work the land » By the 16 thcentury you have to imagine people making stuff (hands and tools) » We have a shift from feudalism and an agricultural society to capitalism and a manufacturing class » But the people who are running these factories aren’t classic like aristocrats and landowners, they are these new group of people that suddenly start generating wealth in a completely new and different way, so they challenge the traditional nobility as merchant class, they become powerful and wealthy » In this new class of feudalism there’s nowhere to put them, they don’t fit. The magistrates that support Luther are these people » The shift in economic power is tied into a shift in religious power » The magisterial reformation means it’s the reformations that were sponsored by magistrates and for our purposes it’s a silly old English word that refers to this merchant class » They supported Luther and his reforms for their own reasons and he supported them o Politics » At this time here, the holy roman empire in th the 16 century is really if you go straight up from Rome up into Northern Europe is sort of like a band, its not really a broad expansive empire anymore » By the 16 thcentury it’s undergoing some pretty radical decentralization (the central roman axis – Rome) » With decentralization it means that Rome becomes increasingly difficult for them to control what’s going on in all regions of the empire » So you get all these rogue states that begin breaking off and breaking away » Especially in the North in the region we call Germany there are these little city states and regions that are breaking off, if they’re breaking off politically or geographically really what they are doing is that they stop paying the taxes » Merchant class hangs on to the money and Luther’s class hangs on to its money as well o The role of language and the growth of vernacular language in terms of their use in religion » Vernacular language – everyone talking the same language » What was the vernacular in ancient Jerusalem in the 1stcentury as Christianity is emerging? Greek » The growth of vernacular language in this context means Luther shifts Christianity away from being tuck in his mind in Latin » Opportunities for meaning was not really there, Luther turns heads as people actually have to understand what this book is about so one of the first things he wants to do is to translate it into a vernacular form of German, a form of language that a lot of people will understand » Don’t presume that there are a lot of people that are illiterate. Why would this still be important? » Even if you can’t read you can hear it
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