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Reformation, Lutheran.

1. Reformation in this sense involves improvement by correction and presupposes formation and deformation.

2. In ch. hist., the Reformation is the 16th-c. movement to restore the ch. (founded and formed by Christ; deformed mainly by the papacy) to its early condition; it resulted in separation of a great part of the W ch. from the medieval ch. of Rome.

3. Before the Reformation, humanism* provided freedom of thought and learning; to some extent it absorbed the pagan philos. of the ancient classics; where it fostered study of Scripture it promoted only moral and ethical reformation. Univs. led in demanding reform but were only intellectual centers. Mysticism demanded inwardness of religion and a personal relationship bet. creature and Creator (in contrast to the externalism and institutionalism of the ch.), but became wholly subjective. Growing nationalism helped prepare for the Reformation by arousing (a) violent criticism of, and opposition to, the arrogant claims and demands of the pope as a “for. prince”; (b) willingness to protect a fellow citizen against attacks from abroad.

But more was needed, because the root of corruption was not recognized.

4. The doctrine of the merit of good works denied the Gospel and made necessary such a thorough reformation as had been attempted by such “reformers before the Reformation” as P. Waldo (see Waldenses). J. Wycliffe,* J. Hus.* See also Brethren of the Common Life; Jerome of Prague; Wessel; Savonarola, Girolamo.

5. The ch. used the interdict* effectively against reform efforts.

6. The Reform Councils (see Councils and Synods. 7) failed to recognize the root of corruption; the hierarchy* wanted no reform.

7. The man of the Reformation was M. Luther.* The beginning of the Reformation may be traced to his question, “How do I obtain a gracious God?” and the answer he found ca. 1514 in Ps 31:1; 71:2; Ro 1:17.

8. When Luther found that through indulgences the people were taught a false way of salvation, he posted 95 Theses (see Theses, Ninety-five, of Luther) on the door of the Wittenberg Castle Ch. October 31, 1517. There followed the Leipzig* Debate 1519 and the trilogy 1520: An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation Concerning the Reform of the Christian Estate; The Babylonian Captivity of the Church; On the Freedom of a Christian Man. The Diet of Worms* 1521 was a bench mark in hist. Scripture was Luther's standard also in dealing 1522 with inconoclastic radicals (Ger.: Bilderstürmer) who, among other things, sought to remove images and organs from chs. in Wittenberg.

9. Papal action against Luther began soon after October 31, 1517, culminated in the bulls Exsurge, Domine (1520; threatened excommunication) and Decet Romanum Pontificem (1521; excommunicated him). The emp. added his condemnation of Luther in the Edict of Worms.*

10. The Reformation spread rapidly, entering various lands mainly through Luther's writings. The only attempt to impose the Reformation by force was made in Den. by Christian* II for pol. reasons and proved unsuccessful; but by 1530 Den. was gained for the Reformation by preaching (see also Denmark, Lutheranism in, 2).

11. At times pol. and personal reasons helped motivate efforts to introd. the Reformation in some lands. But occasional use of Prot. force was usually in defense against RC attacks or in suppression of RC plots against govt. authority.

12. By 1540 RCm had lost all N and most of cen. Ger. and all Scand.; in Poland, Boh., Moravia, Hung., and Transylvania nine-tenths of the pop. was said to be Luth.; Luth. influence was strong in S Germany. Eng. had separated from Rome and, though still Cath., was beginning to lean toward Protestantism.

RC response was first partly conciliatory (see Hagenau Colloquy; Regensburg Conference; Worms, Colloquy of), then turned to open and violent attack, led by the Society* of Jesus and resulting in wars of religion in most of W Eur. (see France, 9–10; Huguenots; Schmalkaldic War; Switzerland, 2, 4–6; Thirty Years' War; William I (1533–84).).

Calvinism began to supplant Lutheranism in some Ger. states partly because Calvinism was more aggressive against RCm.

13. The Luth. Reformation led to all other true modern reform efforts. Divisions in Protestantism are not a result of the Reformation but of replacing Scripture with rationalism and/or subjectivism.

14. The Reformation is justified by the higher moral life and culture of its followers and by resultant improvement in the RC Ch. TH

See also Denmark, Lutheranism in; Formal Principle; Germany, B; entries beginning Luther …; Material Principle; Norway, Lutheranism in, 1–3; Sweden, Lutheranism in, 1.

J. Mackinnon, Luther and the Reformation, 4 vols. (London, 1925–30) and The Origins of the Reformation (London, 1939); P. Smith, The Age of the Reformation (New York, 1920) and The Life and Letters of Martin Luther (Boston, 1911); T. M. Lindsay, A History of the Reformation, 2 vols. (New York, 1906–07); J. T. Köstlin, The Theology of Luther in Its Historical Development and Inner Harmony, 2 vols., tr. C. E. Hay from the 2d Ger. ed. (Philadelphia, 1897); T. v. Kolde, Martin Luther, 2 vols. (Gotha, 1884–93); publications of Verein für Reformationsgeschichte; A. C. McGiffert, Martin Luther: The Man and His Work (New York, 1910); A. H. Böhmer, Road to Reformation, tr. J. W. Doberstein and T. G. Tappert (Philadelphia, 1946); B. K. Kuiper, Martin Luther: The Formative Years (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1933) and a shorter version under the same title (Grand Rapids, 1943); The Cambridge Modern History, II–IV, ed. A. W. Ward et al. (Cambridge, Eng., 1903–06); E. G. Schwiebert, Luther and His Times (St. Louis, 1950); R. H. Bainton, The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century (Boston, 1952); H. J. Grimm, The Reformation Era 1500–1650, rev. ed. (New York, 1965); H. Bornkamm, Luther's World of Thought, tr. M. H. Bertram (St. Louis, 1958); C. L. Manschreck, Melanchthon: The Quiet Reformer (New York, 1958); É G. Léonard, A History of Protestantism, 1: The Reformation, ed. H. H. Rowley, tr. J. M. H. Reid (London, 1965); Illustrated History of the Reformation, ed. O. Thulin, tr. J. E. Nopola, H. C. Oswald, P. D. Pahl, and O. E. Sohn (St. Louis, 1967); G. Rupp, Patterns of Reformation (Philadelphia, 1969).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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