How has the Reformation changed society?

Aug 28, 2017 by

by Sarah Williams, Idea:

If we believe that all human beings are created equal, that they are free to act according to conscience, to speak freely, to be treated fairly before the law; if we believe that rulers should obey the same laws as their subjects, that oppression should be resisted; that leaders should be held to account, that differences should be tolerated within civil society – then the Reformation is something we must celebrate. 

The 16th century Reformation went far beyond correcting the doctrines of the Church, to address the fundamental shape and structure of the Western world. It established the moral, philosophical and political foundations of the modern liberal tradition upon which our own society is built.

There were four dimensions to the Reformation process. The Lutheran Reformation brought the scriptures to bear on the relationship between the Church and the state. It placed the vernacular Bible in the hands of ordinary men and women. The Calvinist Reformation applied the scriptures to the laws and customs of daily life, and – by the end of the 16th century – the Catholic Reformation heard the rebuke of scripture and put its own house in order.

In short, the Reformation in all its varied expressions, was a great deal bigger than a brave monk nailing 95 contentious statements to a door in Wittenberg.

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