Happy Reformation Day!
Thus began the Protestant Reformation.
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Martin Luther was a German priest and professor of theology who disputed the claim of Johann Tentzel that the forgiveness of sins could be purchased from the church.
Luther challenged the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, by insisting that church doctrine must find its justifications from only once source - the Bible.
His translation of the Bible into the language of the people (instead of Latin) made it more accessible, causing a tremendous impact on the church and on German culture. It fostered the development of a standard version of the German language, added several principles to the art of translation, and influenced the translation into English of the King James Bible..
In 1517, literacy was low, but the printing press had been invented around 1440. When new information was received, people would gather round and listen while the message was read.
This wasn't so different from what happend with Paul's letters that became part of the new Testament. What was new was that a printing press could duplicate 3,600 pages per day.
Imagine what would happen if Luther were alive today and could publish his ideas on the internet!
Martin Luther was opposed to the Catholic church because it was effectively religion distorted for the financial interests of ruling church leadership, but at the same time he did not support the Peasant's revolt of 1524-1525 because he believed that Romans 13:1-7 supported the Divine rule of Kings.
There was a lot going on at the time, and a complex class sytem that was responding to these changes:
- The princes were finding their administrative and military costs rising and passed the increased costs on to the peasants through higher taxes and the selling of indulgences. They also found it economically advantageous to break from Rome and become independent.
- For the lesser nobility, evolving military technology was reducing the value of knights and castles. Inflation and urbanization also contributed to the Knights Revolt of 1522.
- The clergy were losing their priveleged postion, and divided between the aristocratic clergy that were well-positioned within the church and those poorer and more rural clergy.
- the peasants were coming under increasing financial pressure, through increasing taxes, and the privatization of common fields, forests and waters. If they wished to marry, they had to had their Lord's permission, and pay a marriage tax.
In Plato's dialogues, a character named Thrasymacus puts forward that, not just in religion, but generally, the "strong" shape the rules in their own interests.
- Thrasymacus argues that the strong are able to enact laws that are to their advantage
- The public identifies justices with the obeyance of laws.
- Therefore, justice is nothing but the advantage of the "strong".
James Sinclair, an attorney in North Florida writes:
"Both are popular uprisings against powerful-but-nebulous entities believed to be responsible for America economic struggles. Both are defined not by easily-identified leaders, but by the sum total of countless unique viewpoints, and thus are not capable of articulating their goals with any cohesiveness or specificity (nor should they be expected to). And both movements, to borrow the classification scheme created by Bill O'Reilly, are teeming with both pinheads and patriots."
They agree on the problem
We do not have government by the people for the people.
"The greatest threat to our economy is neither corporations nor the government. The greatest threat to our economy is both of them working together. There are currently two sizable coalitions of angry citizens that are almost on the same page about that, and they're too busy insulting each other to notice.""
..but not the solution
To generalize: The Tea Party tends to believe that the solution is more limited government, while the Occupy Wall Street crowd tends to seek more of a role for government regulation.
Sinclair volunteers that he is simplifying, and it's worth considering what some of the other factors are that may be contributing the the social and economic pressure that people feel.
The Declining Attention Span
But unfortunately the average attention span is not what it used to be in 1517.
This article has already drug on long enough, only made bearable by the addition of:
- bullet points,
- pictures, and
- and video
In a future article, I'll consider what a modern-day 95 theses would look like.