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Matin Luther And Thomas More

Luther began his ecclesiastical career as an Augustinian Monk in the Roman Catholic Church. Consequently, Luther was initially loyal to the papacy, and even after many theological conflicts, he attempted to bring about his reconciliation with the Church. But this was a paradox not to endure because in his later years, Luther waged a continual battle with the papacy. Luther was to become a professor of biblical exegesis at Wittenberg where, in 1957, he posted his critique of the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings and practices.

This is otherwise known as The Ninety-Five Theses, which is usually considered to be the original document of the Reformation. Basically, this document was an indictment of the venality of the Roman Catholic Church, particularly the widespread practice of selling indulgences in association with the sacrament of penance. Luther’s beliefs on the matter were that after confession, absolution relied upon the sinner’s faith and God’s Divine Grace rather than the intervention of a priest. At this point, Luther did not advocate an actual separation from the Roman Catholic Church.

Instead, Luther felt his suggested reforms York-3 could be implemented within Catholicism. If this had taken place, the Protestant Reformation would probably not of ever seen the light of day–nor would it have been necessary. But the theological practices being what they were in the Roman Church, there was little chance at that time for any great variations to occur within its folds. The Church of Rome was thoroughly monolithic and set in its ways and was not about to mutate into something else. The turning point of the Reformation and of church history in general is the experience of an Augustinian monk in his monastic cell–Martin Luther. Martin Luther did not merely teach different doctrines; others had done that also, such as Wyclif. But none of the others who protested against the Roman system were able to break through it. The only man who really made a breakthrough, and whose breakthrough has transformed the surface of the earth, was Martin Luther. . .

He is one of the few great prophets of the Christian Church, and his greatness is overwhelming, even if it was limited by some of his personal traits and his later development. He is responsible for the fact that a purified Christianity, a Christianity of the Reformation, was able to establish itself equal terms with the Roman tradition\” (Tillich 227). Tillich’s York-4 main emphasis, then, is not on Luther as the founder of Lutheranism, but as the person who broke through the system of the Church of Rome. Luther shattered the theological restraints and distortions of the Roman Catholic religion.

This accomplishment amounts to the establishment of another religion known as Protestantism, a faith that was generated from the Reformation, with its advocates such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Knox. However, Luther stood out as one of the Reformation titans in a most unique manner. Roland H. Bainton suggests the following concerning Luther’s reforms with regard to the Catholic sacraments; \”But Luther’s rejection of the five sacraments might even have been tolerated had it not been for the radical transformation which he effected in the two which he retained.

From his view of baptism, he was not a second baptism, and no vow should ever be taken beyond the baptismal vow. Most serious of all was Luther’s reduction of the mass to the Lord’s Supper. The mass is central for the entire Roman Catholic system because the mass is believed to be a repetition of the Incarnation and the Crucifixion. When the bread and wine are transubstantiated, God again becomes flesh and Christ again dies upon the altar. This wonder can be performed only by priests empowered through ordination. . . His first insistence was that the sacrament of the mass must be not magical but mystical. He, too, had no mind to subject it to human frailty and would not concede that York-5 he had done so by positing the necessity of faith, since faith is itself a gift from God, but this faith is given by God when, where, and to whom he will and even without the sacrament is efficacious; whereas the reverse is not true, that the sacrament is of efficacy without faith. ‘I may be wrong on indulgences,’ declared Luther, ‘but as to the need for faith diminished the role of the priests who may place a wafer in the mouth but cannot engender faith in the heart\” (Bainton 107).

For Luther, the Holy Eucharist of Lord’s supper was really a symbolic act rather than an actual instance of transubstantiation in which the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ. That was a magical aspect to this sacrament, which Luther could not accept. The power of the Roman clergy could not exist if Luther’s concepts were to be accepted. Because the principal sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church is the Holy Eucharist of Holy Communion, the fact that Luther was tampering with it could not help but be looked upon by the Roman clergy with great dismay.

Luther generated the Protestant belief that this sacrament is a commemoration through which clergy and communicants raise their spirits by symbolic remembrance of Christ’s life and death. In contrast, according to the teachings of the Roman Church, Christ’s human body and blood are actually present in the consecrated bread and wine. As Bertrand Russell states: \”Even more important in the Middle Ages, was transubstantiation; only a priest could perform the miracle of the mass.

It was not until the eleventh century in 1079, that the doctrine of transubstantiation became an article of faith, though it had generally been believed for a long time\” (Russell 408). As Luther saw it, no sacrament is effective by itself without listening to the Word associated with the sacrament, and the faith that believes in it. There is no magical element to any sacrament, including the doctrine of transubstantiation. Consequently, Luther’s teachings on the sacraments took away the power of the priests and the special nature of the Holy Eucharist.

Lawyer, negotiator, legislator, humanist, scholar; Sir Thomas More served the English people in each one of these capacities. Mores intellectual skill, when combined with his sharp personality, made him Englands most versatile public servant in the early sixteenth century. More was one of the most successful men in English history, as his efforts for various causes propelled him to the forefront of English society. The article, A Saint in the City: Thomas More at Mercers Hall, tells the story of Mores rise to power and his role in Englands trade policy. Born the son of a lawyer in 1478, More was schooled at St.

Anthonys and then worked as a servant for Cardinal Morton, archbishop of Canterbury. Morton subsequently sent More to study at Canterbury College. After a short stay at the school, More returned to London, becoming a member of Lincolns Inn. This was the beginning of Mores great legal career. In 1504, More began his service in Parliament, which sat at Westminster. From the beginning, Mores talents were recognized by the leaders of the country: King Henry VII and his minister, Edmund Dudley. In 1509, More was admitted membership into the privileged Mercers Company.

More was returned to a new parliament in 1510 and was elevated to the position of burgess of the city. In September of the same year, More took the position of under-sheriff, continuing to follow in the legal footsteps of his famed father. This position entailed appearing in the royal law courts for the city when it was engaged in litigation and sitting as judge in the Sheriffs Court. When Luther appeared before the Diet of Worms, he was asked by Eck, an official of the Archbishop of Trier: \”I ask you, Martin–answer candidly and without horns– do you or do you not repudiate your books and the errors which they contain? Luther replied, \”Since then Your Majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason–I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other–my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for us to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen\” (Bainton 144). Essentially, Luther provided the Christian with a degree of freedom not at all present in Catholicism.

Luther dared to defy the might and authority of the Roman Catholic Church, and the Reformation was born. York-13 More wrote much of his masterpiece, Utopia. Mores success at Bruges once again brought his skills to the attention of English leadership. This time, it was King Henry VIII and Thomas Wolsey who recognized Mores abilities and extended him an invitation to move from working for the city to working for the king. This article chronicled the life of Thomas More very favorably. The author made Mores skills and talents very clear. However, the writing in the article was very difficult to follow.

It was obvious that the intended audience for the article consisted of scholars of English history. Nevertheless, I found More to be a very intriguing character. Mores personal, negotiating, legal, labor, and linguistic skills seem to show that he represented all that was good within the borders of England. While these various positions add to Mores genius, it was his work for the Mercers that brought him his greatest fame. The Mercers were comprised mainly from two groups of the cloth industry: the Merchant Adventurers, shippers of cloth to the Netherlands, and the Staplers.

Conflict between those two groups first developed in 1493, when a fallout between Henry VII and the house of Burgundy caused the Englishmen who sold cloths in the Netherlands to relocate to the safety of Calais. Friction between the two companies endured until it came to a peak in 1512. That year, each company was summoned to speak its case before the kings council in the Star Chamber. The council allowed eight representatives from both the Merchant Adventurers and the Staplers to speak.

The list of speakers for the Merchant Adventurers included the governor of their fellowship, two other Mercers, a haberdasher, a skinner, a draper, a grocer, and a tailor. The list of speakers for the Staplers included seven wool merchants and Thomas More. It was clear throughout the meetings that More was the most articulate and persuasive member of either group of representatives. Mores goal was to resolve the differences of the two companies. The efforts of more were met with success, as the two groups conciliated and conflicts between the two would be non-existent for several years.

Mores negotiating skills were needed again by England in 1510. This time, international trade was the focus of events. A conflict with the Netherlands ensued in the city of Antwerp. The collections of customs and the lack of warehousing space in the city were the source of the problems. A Pensionary was called in to arbitrate the meeting between the English officials and those from the Netherlands. The meetings took place at Mercers Hall in London. Because the Pensionary was unable to speak English, the negotiations were in Latin.

Records of the minutes from this meeting show that, once again, More dominated the negotiations. More served in many capacities throughout the meeting, acting as both a negotiator and as an interpreter. The results of the meeting stood heavily in Englands favor. The Pensionary assured that the clothing fleets from England would sail freely from the Thames River to Antwerp for the next mart. I find Martin Luther more respectable because he started a new religion by publicly defying papal authority. Mores work serving the King of England does not go unmentioned however.

Both I feel are geniuses of their own ages. Luther successfully translated the bible from Latin to German. More was a martyr for his faith. Defying the leader of a nation is nothing compared to defying the Pope, leader of most of Europe at that time. Both show intelligence and capability in their work, and they both deserve respect, that is why they are still remembered to this day. Utopia describes a semi-ideal society with an emphasis on the criticism of European society that ideal represents, and it is a commentary on itself and its themes.

Utopia is the labors of a profound thinker who was still constructing his thoughts. The book can be paradoxical, just as More himself: a man who preached religious toleration and methodically persecuted Protestants, who decided to remain a lay Christian rather than enter the priesthood but ultimately died a martyr for his faith. Utopia is a book that attempted to navigate a meandering trail through reality and the surreal, between a desire to create perfection and the pragmatic understanding that perfection is impossible.

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