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To what extent was Luther pushed by his Catholic opponents into the extreme position he adopted in 1521?

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Introduction

To what extent was Luther pushed by his Catholic opponents into the extreme position he adopted in 1521? Until 1517 Luther had shown no inclination towards a rebellion with the papacy but was in fact rather humble towards the authority of the Pope and respected him greatly. The purpose of Luther's 95 theses of 1517 was to bring to the Pope's attention the abuses being committed in his name thinking that the Pope, Leo X, did not know of the dealings of his clergy. This rather naive belief in the purity of the Pope shows just how much Luther respected his authority in 1517. But this was all to change due to the events that take place between 1517 and 1521, ending with Luther calling the Pope an Antichrist, dismissing the Pope's assumed role as God's representative on Earth and completely breaking away from the Church. Such an extreme attitude meant that he was easily identifiable in those times as a heretic and so liable to be put to death and yet Luther would not recant being so convinced that his position was the right one in God's eyes. From this we are able to see the differences in the Luther of 1517 and of 1521, but what were the events and who were the people that played a part in effecting such a dramatic change in the Augustinian monk? ...read more.

Middle

So much so, that even when Prieras, a rival Dominican, attacked Luther in his "Dialogus" of 1518, Luther was able to dismiss him saying "His ideas are his own, that is laid down without scripture." Such allegations against the Church were bound to make the Pope act and he did with his efforts to try and get Luther to recant. In Augsburg, 1518, Cajetan was sent to lead Luther's disciplinary hearing. Luther attended believing that he would be given a fair chance to explain his arguments, but Cajetan had other ideas; he was under the Pope's directive to either get a retraction form Luther or to arrange his arrest and so, Cajetan in his confrontational questioning of Luther at the hearing, forced Luther to admit that he believed papal decree was not sufficient authority, that the Pope was fallible and even say that the Pope was an Antichrist. Luther based all these statements on Scripture, taking his stand here more than ever. Luther's further dealings with the papal system caused him great disillusionment with the papacy. After Augsburg, he tried to appeal directly to Leo X but this was met by the papal bull of Nov 1518 condemning the errors of "certain monks" and with the dispatchment of Carl Von Militz to try to arrest Luther. ...read more.

Conclusion

From this we can evaluate the extent to which the Church itself and Luther's catholic opponents pushed him away and how much Luther himself pulled away to take the stand that he did in 1521. It is evident that Luther's various opponents between 1517 and 1521 played a massive role in pushing him towards searching for alternatives to what the church was offering. The Church's rough handling of Luther also caused him to resent it. It was very confrontational and this forced Luther to react, which he did by forming his own ideas about God and faith. I think that the biggest factor of the schism between the Church and Luther was the debate at Leipzig with Eck. There, Luther was forced to make a stand on many issues and was now openly attacking the Church. But Luther's own personality played a part in his stance against the Church. Had Luther not been so religious and fervent in his beliefs, once he realised them, then he would have had no motivation to take on the immense strength and power of the Church. His unfaltering belief that he was doing as God intended him to do meant that as much as the Church pushed him away, Luther could only react by also pulling himself away. In other words, Luther himself had to have wanted to break away from the Church eventually, and this was enabled and partly caused by the opponents he came up against. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rania Kashi 14/11/00 ...read more.

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