Freedom of a Christian: the Lutheran Reformation as Revolution
John Witte Jr.
Emory University School of Law
Journal of the Historical Society, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 109-121, Summer 2001
The Protestant Reformation began as a religious reform in Germany and ended in political revolutions on both sides of the Atlantic. The early Reformation ideas of human freedom, equality, and dignity, advocated by Martin Luther and his co-religionists, helped paved the way for later democratic revolutions. Particularly influential were the early Reformation ideas of liberty of conscience and freedom of religious exercise, the rights of everyone to a vernacular Bible and to a proper education, and the rights of all fit adults, clergy and laity alike, to marriage and divorce. None of these ideas came to full institutional expression in the sixteenth century, but they created ripples that helped lead to the tidal wave of democratic revolution that swept across the Western World in succeeding centuries.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 13
Keywords: Protestantism; Reformation; Democratic Revolution; Germany; Martin Luther; Political Freedom; Spiritual Freedom
Date posted: May 26, 2011 ; Last revised: October 3, 2014