Friday, March 3, 2017
Why did Martin Luther come along when he did and have such influence? Why the Reformation at that particular time? Nation building. In earlier times it was religion, and Roman Catholicism which gave people a sense of unity and safety amidst wars among European feudal Lords. Religion was the glue. No matter our differences, we had ONE religion, and where that was threatened by alternative beliefs, those beliefs were persecuted. By the time of Luther, something new had begun to develop: the Nation. France, Germany, Prussia, Austria, Britain were being formed. These were secular entities that gave us a new sense of unity and thus safety. Catholicism was no longer a necessity for unity and security. At first, whatever the ruler believed, everyone followed in his realm or emigrated. But with time, some toleration of differences were permitted where the state felt strong in its "National" unity. You could be Catholic or Lutheran because you were German. There was such a thing as "German" as a nation and not just an ethnicity or language. Where the national sense of unity weakens, you will have more persecution over differences in religion, ethnicity and language. This may be why, in our own country, we have a growing intolerance, as people feel deep divides in such areas as economics and wealth. With a sense of division, fear finds a place to grow. Bad stuff happens when fear reigns.