To What Extent Could Luther Be Called A Revolutionary?

1833 words - 8 pages

To what extent could Luther be called a revolutionary?
A revolutionary is someone who desires or causes a complete or dramatic change, in this case a change in religion, whereas a radical is someone who wants to bring something back to its roots and return it to how it had been. Whilst it can be argued that Luther was a revolutionary because he ultimately caused a revolution to occur, it can also be argued that he was not a revolutionary because he never intended for that to happen and he only had the basic idea to bring Christianity back to its roots, making him a radical.
One way in which it can be argued that Luther was not a revolutionary was because he did not intend for a revolution ...view middle of the document...

This would have been completely normal behaviour in the University and many people had put up notices similar to Luther’s. For example, Andrew Carlstadt had put up his own 151 Theses only a few months earlier in April 1517, which Frederick the Wise had accepted and a debate was held. This therefore shows that Luther was not a revolutionary because his intentions were simply to have a debate, a very normal practise, and it was clear to see that when a revolution began to occur Luther had no plans to back up his words which in itself created many difficulties.
Another way in which it can be argued that Luther was not a revolutionary was because Luther would have denied that he was a revolutionary, as he would have probably called himself a radical. It can be argued that Luther was a radical because he believed in sola scriptura (by scripture alone), which is a very conservative traditional view that brings Christianity back to the very basics and rejects ideas such as all 7 sacraments (Luther at first believed in 3, and reduced it further to only 2 sacraments: baptism and mass). Sola scriptura is not revolutionary because it is an ad fontes idea that returns Christianity back to basics and how it was in the beginning. Luther also believed in sola fide (faith alone), which showed Luther’s theory of the inefficacy of good works. Luther is quoted as saying ‘Works are necessary for salvation but they do not cause salvation; for faith alone gives life’. Luther was also known to have said that there is no need to do good works because if a person follows the life of Christ and lives their life by the Bible then they will naturally do good works. This also shows that he was a radical not a revolutionary because the idea of good works and indulgences were a modern idea that Luther believed was created by Rome to exploit a weak Germany, therefore meaning that he wanted to reduce Christianity back to the basics with no influence from the Pope and less money that had to be paid by the peasants to get time off purgatory. Additionally, compared to some other people Luther had very conservative principles, which would therefore cause him to not be a revolutionary. For example, Luther suggested that Baptism should only happen at infancy whereas a revolutionary such as Müntzer believed that Baptism should only happen in adulthood when the person had been able to make their own decision on whether they wanted to be a Christian or not. In addition, Luther was not a revolutionary compared to Zwingli because Luther suggested a change from transubstantiation to consubstantiation, whereas Zwingli believed that Christ was not present at all and that the Eucharist is just in memory of Him. One last way in which Luther was not a revolutionary compared to Zwingli was because Luther believed that statues should be removed from Churches to help people focus on the teachings whereas Zwingli believed that all decoration should be removed and the Church should be completely...

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