Introduction to the Protestant Reformation: Varieties of Protestantism (part 3) An Introduction to the Protestant Reformation: Varieties of Protestantism (3 of 4) Speakers: Dr. Steven Zucker & Dr. Beth Harris
Introduction to the Protestant Reformation: Varieties of Protestantism (part 3)
- So to recap from the last video,
- Luther refused to renounce his teachings at the Diet of Worms
- and was kidnapped as he left the Diet of Worms by the Elector of Saxony,
- and secreted away in a castle,
- where he translated the New Testament into German.
- This is an enormous undertaking, which he completes in a matter of months;
- and it's important to Luther because it means
- that everyone can read the Bible for themselves.
- Luther's main ideas are Scripture Alone and the Priesthood of All Believers.
- So you don't need to go to the Church to understand the Word of God,
- to understand the path to salvation;
- all you need to do is to read the Bible - Scripture Alone.
- So, putting the Bible in the hands of everyone.
- This other idea - the Priesthood of All Believers -
- is this notion that we can have a direct relationship with God
- that's unmediated by the priest,
- by local bishop, or by the Pope;
- it's just us and our Creator.
- So we've come across three major ideas, then, from Luther:
- Faith Alone, Scripture Alone, and the Priesthood of All Believers.
- Now, these ideas - that we can look directly at the Scriptures,
- that we can have that kind of direct relationship with God -
- means that lots of people can come up with slightly varying understandings
- of what that relationship is.
- Right. As soon as the Word of God is not mediated by the Church,
- as soon as everyone can read it for themselves,
- it becomes clear just how ambiguous
- much of what's in the New Testament and the Old Testament really is,
- and how differently it can be interpreted by different people.
- And that's why we have so many different Protestant sects.
- Immediately, Luther's words spread very quickly.
- If we go to Zurich, to Switzerland, we find Zwingli.
- Like Luther, he looks to Scripture as the sole authority -
- not the Church, but Scripture.
- Now, he differed from Luther in one important regard: the Eucharist.
- Now, Luther had already broken with
- the Catholic Church's understanding of the Eucharist,
- that there was transubstantiation: that is,
- that the bread and the wine was, by miracle,
- transformed into the actual flesh and the actual blood of Christ.
- Luther believed that the blood of Christ and the flesh of Christ
- was present in the bread and the wine,
- but not that the priest had this kind of special power
- that allowed for the transformation itself.
- And then Zwingli changes that interpretation,
- and says that the Eucharist is entirely symbolic,
- and that there is no actual blood and no actual flesh present in the church.
- Right. And actually,
- Luther and Zwingli got together to debate this issue,
- to try to create a more unified Protestant church,
- but they were unable to agree.
- So you can see these very serious doctrinal disputes
- that are going on during this time. Everything is being questioned.
- Well, in Zurich at the same time,
- also we have another group, the Anabaptists.
- And they're fascinating, because they take issue with the practice of baptism
- close to birth: that is, an infant is brought and baptized.
- They look back to the belief that Christ was baptized as an adult:
- that is, he was baptized of his own free will;
- and they were called the Anabaptists by people who didn't like them,
- because they sought this kind of spiritual awakening later in life,
- when we could take responsibility for our spiritual lives.
- Right, and "Anabaptist" actually means "re-baptism,"
- which was completely against Catholic Church doctrine.
- And the Amish and the Mennonites actually come directly from the Anabaptists.
- And those may be more familiar to us.
- John Calvin, another really important reformer during this period,
- who we might know for his doctrine of predestination.
- This is really following very much what Luther also taught,
- that all you needed to have was faith.
- God had already decided, for Calvin, from the beginning of time
- who was elect: in other words, who was blessed,
- who would go to Heaven, and who would go to Hell.
- In other words, completely disregarding the possibility
- of free will, of choice.
- It's interesting, because we generally think that we have some agency,
- that we can make our way into Heaven if only we are really truly good.
- But Calvin and Luther are both saying,
- "No, this is entirely God's will; and we only enact it."
- God exists in the eternal realm,
- and so it's not like God woke up on Monday and said,
- "You're damned; and you over there, you're going to Hell,"
- but something that's predetermined.
- Now, Calvin was French. He was a lawyer originally, but he fled to Switzerland.
- But let's go to England. What's happening there?
- Well, Henry the Eighth wants an annulment from his first wife,
- Catherine of Aragon, because she's failed to produce any male heirs to the throne.
- Well, she had produced - or I should say, they had produced - male heirs,
- they just hadn't survived infancy.
- And so, Henry the Eighth applies to the Pope for an annulment.
- And the pope is actually worried about offending the Holy Roman Emperor,
- and there's all sorts of political issues, but he says
- "Sorry, I can't grant you an annulment."
- So Henry then goes to the head of the Church in England and says,
- "Will you grant me an annulment?" and that is granted.
- And so, the power of the Pope is usurped in this case.
- And soon after that, an Act of Parliament makes the king -
- the monarch of England - the head of the Church in England.
- But I think we need to be careful, because
- we don't want to say that the Anglican Church - that is,
- the Church of England that Henry is now heading -
- is entirely the result of his desire for divorce, or an annulment.
- There are strong spiritual and also political issues here.
- Just like in the Germanic countries,
- many felt that the pope had too much power.
- And Henry was not only getting his annulment,
- he was also getting the lands of the Church.
- Protestantism is spreading in primarily German-speaking countries,
- up in Scandinavia and England and Scotland, in Switzerland;
- but if we look to Southern Germany and Italy,
- or France or Spain, those countries remain predominantly Catholic.
- All true. But focusing too much on the politics,
- and focusing too much on Henry's marriages - because, you know,
- ultimately Henry the Eighth will have six marriages -
- is to miss the brutality, the violence of this period.
- On both sides, Catholics and Protestants.
- Thousands of people were hanged, burned at the stake,
- tortured, simply because of their beliefs.
- And each side was convinced that they were in the right,
- and the other side was not only in the wrong,
- but actually somehow in the power of the Devil.
- This was one of the most violent periods in Europe,
- and some of the worst violence took place in France.
- Now, the French Protestants were known as Huguenots.
- And initially there was some tolerance, but that ended fairly quickly,
- and the Huguenots were declared, en masse, heretical.
- That is, Protestantism was outlawed in France.
- And there was a civil war in France
- for much of the end of the sixteenth century.
- But just like in the German countries, and just like in England,
- the issues were not only spiritual, they were also political.
- And so, what you had is an alignment of the ruling families of France
- pitted against each other on both the Protestant and the Catholic sides.
- We also see attempts at tolerance.
- So for example, in the German States,
- the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 establishes this principle of
- "Whose Realm, His Religion,"
- this idea that the local princes in the Holy Roman Empire
- could choose the religion for their area.
- In other words, they could choose between Protestantism and Catholicism.
- It's not going to be declared by the Holy Roman Emperor;
- the ruler of each region is going to get to decide.
- And similarly in France, we have the Edict of Nantes in 1598,
- which establishes a principle of religious toleration.
- So that really ends this long period
- in the second half of the sixteenth century
- known as the French Wars of Religion, and finally there is some peace.
- But ultimately, things just got worse.
- By the early seventeenth century,
- we see the beginning of the Thirty Years War,
- which pitted Protestants and Catholics against each other,
- especially in the Holy Roman Empire.
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