What Factors best explain the popularity and survival of Luther's ideas? (AS grade A essay)

Essay by the_beer_barronHigh School, 12th grade October 2006

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There are many perspectives on why Luther's ideas gained so much popularity and why they were able to survive the Pope's and Emperor's attempts to silence them. The best explanatory factors lie with the swift delivery of Luther's message across a fragmented Germany through the printing press and clamorous sermons to an audience of people whose minds had already been broadened by the humanist movement. The people who chose to follow the Lutheran movement were often very aware of social and economic advantages that it would bring them. This contrasts with the Catholic church who may have been seen as the main withdrawers of wealth from the empire and also as the deprivers of the more pure Lutheran faith. However with out the protection of Frederick the Wise or the inadequacies of the Pope and Emperor in handling the situation it is likely that Luther's ideas would not have had any longevity.

Luther would have been burned as a heretic soon after his refusal to apologise for his renouncement of indulgences in 1517. This would have prevented any evolution of his innovative approach towards the future of the Catholic church, leaving Western Christendom largely unscathed.

One of the most important factors in explaining the popularity of Luther's ideas was the attractiveness of the theology which he presented to the German people, many of whom were alight with religious zeal. The central point of the Lutheran theology was that 'sola fida,' faith alone would gain you entry to a heaven. This removed the visceral sense of debt and burden which the Catholic church focused its teachings upon. Luther taught that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross had in God's eyes already removed the cost of sin making indulgences and other unbiblical doctrines promoted by the church worthless. The presentation of radical ideas...