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THE CONFESSIONS OF AUGSBURG On 31 October 1517, Dr. Martin Luther, professor of theology at the Saxon University of Wittenberg, nailed a paper of Ninety-five Theses to the door of the

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Introduction

THE CONFESSIONS OF AUGSBURG On 31 October 1517, Dr. Martin Luther, professor of theology at the Saxon University of Wittenberg, nailed a paper of Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle Church. These theses attacked the practice of selling indulgences. At the time Luther had no thought breaking away from the Church of Rome. However, this date is celebrated as the anniversary of the Reformation and signalled the beginning of the end of the medieval Church and the supremacy of the pope. Sixteenth century Germany proved to be fertile ground for the rapid spread of Luther's teachings with political, social and economic factors all contributing to the conditions in which his ideas flourished. Ever since 962AD when Otto I revived the Holy Roman Empire, there had been an ongoing continuous contest for supremacy between popes and emperors, which eventually resulted in the papal side being victorious. However, it created bitter rivalry between Rome and the German empire, which increased during the 14th and 15th Centuries due to the development of German nationalism. . As early as the 13th Century, the papacy started to become vulnerable to attack due to the greed, immorality and ignorance of many of its officials in all ranks of the hierarchy. The vast tax-free possessions of the Church, which consisted of about one-fifth to one-third of the lands of Europe, incited a huge amount of envy and resentment among the peasantry. ...read more.

Middle

The Church reacted by trying to silence Luther. In January 1521, Luther was condemned by the Pope and declared a 'heretic'. In May of that year, Luther was summoned to the 'Diet of Worms' ( 'Diet' meaning 'general assembly'), where he was supposed to retract his teaching. Luther refused and the Emperor declared him an outlaw. For almost a year he remained in hiding, protected by some of the German princes, writing pamphlets explaining his principles and translating the New Testament into German. Although his writings were prohibited by imperial edict, they were openly sold and the invention of the printing press allowed Luther's ideas and works to flourish and spread rapidly throughout Europe and the Holy Roman Empire. Early in 1530, Emperor Charles V went to Augsburg where he wished to secure unity and prepare a force against the Turks who were advancing dangerously close to the Holy Roman Empire. He hoped that Germany would see that their country was in danger and, therefore, they would be willing to help fight against the enemy. The Lutherans thought of establishing the foundations for the debate by sending some articles which Luther had written in order to clarify where they stood. However, Charles waved them aside and began proceedings at the 'Diet of Augsburg', requesting a new statement showing the Protestant's position in order for the debate, which he hoped would lead to reconciliation, could begin. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lutheran religious services were no longer held in Latin so that everyone could understand them. Church revenues were confiscated and the money used for the relief of the poor, the establishment of schools and for the salaries of pastors. Church courts were replaced by civil courts. However, religious intolerance continued and all the sects continued to persecute one another and between 1546 and 1555 a bitter civil war was waged. Peace was established at Augsburg which provided that each of the rulers of the German states could choose between Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism, which was by then the religion of about half of the population of Germany and it gained official recognition. The ancient concept of the religious unity of a single Christian community in Western Europe under the supreme authority of the pope was destroyed. . Today it is widely believed, among Lutherans and Catholics, that if there had been a willingness to listen to what the other side was saying, there is a distinct possibility that the break away would not have been so severe. Some of the religious differences remain but religion does not play such an important role in modern society. The Augsburg Confession was a "revolutionary" document at the time but history has been full of such works which have transformed the course of history but they are always replaced by another one. ?? ?? ?? ?? 042955106 1 1 04/05/2007 ...read more.

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