Freedom of a Christian: the Lutheran Reformation as Revolution
Journal of the Historical Society, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 109-121, Summer 2001
11 Pages Posted: 26 May 2011 Last revised: 14 Jan 2020
Date Written: 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.
Keywords: Protestantism; Reformation; Democratic Revolution; Germany; Martin Luther; Political Freedom; Spiritual Freedom
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