The social implications and telesis of the reformation as reflected primarily in the writings and works of Desiderius Erasmus and Martin Luther



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Purpose: It was the purpose of this study to make an objective analysis of the existing social, ethnic and cultural conditions prior to, during and after the Reformation period, in Europe as a whole and England in general. It was further intended to evaluate and correlate the impact of the above mentioned conditions and the resultant social manifestation, changes and improvements directly and indirectly attributed to the writings and works of Martin Luther and Desiderius Erasmus. Methods: The following method was used in obtaining data for this study: (1) reference books, translated works, articles and pamphlets were used as source information. Findings: From the evidence presented in this study the following conclusions appear to be valid: 1. That the social implications of the Reformation exceeded the religious implications. 2. Literature played a tremendous part in creating “social awareness” throughout Europe. Martin Luther and Desiderius Erasmus were two of the most prominent writers of the period. 3. Europe during the Reformation period was extremely class-conscious. 4. Martin Luther believed in religious freedom and the right to express it. He considered the moral aspects of most issues. 5. Luther denied the infallibility of the pope and denied his jurisdiction in governmental and temporal matters. 6. Erasmus was unwilling to jeapordize his position as a scholar, or minimize his social prestige by aligning himself with Luther and the other “revolutionaries”. 7. Erasmus was a humanist and Luther was a humanitarian. 8. The Catholic Church was oppressive in its dealings with its members. The church used the sale of indulgences to raise large sums of money. These were purchased mostly by the poor who could not afford the indulgences. 9. The establishment of “the absolute power of the monarch” occured during the Reformation period, under the reign of King henry VIII. 10. Basic changes occured in the economy of England during the Reformation. Capitalism replaced the agrarian society with the advent of commerce and industry. The change in the economy resulted in money becoming the medium of exchange, replacing the “share”. 11. Social, economic and political mores of the long standing disappeared during the Reformation, being replaced by new theories and process that, for the most part, proved good for the countries. 12. New philosophies of education were introduced during the Reformation. Luther’s philosophy was to educate so that the masses might be relieved of their oppressions. Erasmus’s philosophy was to educate so that the students might be worthy leaders and teachers. 13. Erasmus and Luther were two of the first advocates of compulsory education. Luther believed the education of the children was the responsibility of education lay within the individual families; and the “tutor” system was the best way to educate children. 14.Erasmus was primarily responsible for the establishment of the fundamental philosophy of the English grammar school. Classical literature played an important role in the foundation of present-day English grammar school curricula.



Reformation, ethical conditions, social conditions, Europe, England, Martin Luther, Desiderius Erasmus