Martin LUTHER : Martin Luther : Selections from His Writings

Edited and with an Introduction by JOHN DILLENBERGER

Publication Information : Book Title : Martin Luther : Selections from His Writings. Contributors : John Dillenberger – editor, Martin Luther – author. Publisher : Doubleday. Place of Publication : Garden City, NY. Publication Year : 1961.


It would be as wrong to attribute the breakup of the medieval world and its consequent course to the genius of Luther as it would be to interpret Luther himself as just a product of the forces then bringing a new world into being. The corporate world of Christendom, once exhibited in church, state, and culture alike, was being undermined as the result of a variety of factors. Such divergent movements as mysticism, with its emphasis upon the direct encounter with the divine, and nominalism, with its stress upon the concrete and discrete, inadvertently challenged the hierarchical and corporate claims of the Church. Humanists, with the enthusiasm of their new discoveries in the field of classical learning, favored the culture of Greece and Rome rather than the studied subtleties of the scholastic theologians. The empire itself was beset with the self-consciousness of rising ethnic and national feelings. The consequence was that the demands of empire frequently had to be adjusted to the aggressive demands of such new groups, which, in German lands, were usually represented by princes and nobles. In the social context, the feudal system was challenged by the rise of a middle class interested in trade and commerce. Small towns became urban centers, and there was a new feeling of independence from the feudal lords. Peasants dissatisfied with their lot were ready to revolt, and did so in the period of the Reformation.

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