MARTIN LUTHER’S PARADOX
(ON RELIGION, CAPITALISM AND GLOBALISATION)
Luis Francisco Martínez Montes
Statue of Martin Luther in Dresden, Germany.
History is neither Theology nor Geology.
Last October 31st the Protestant world commemorated the 500 years since Martin Luther allegedly nailed his 95 Thesis on the door of Wittenberg’s Castle Church criticising the sell of indulgences by the Vatican. According to standard historiography, that symbolic act of rebellion, in fact there is no evidence that Luther nailed any paper on any door on that precise day, ushered in a new period in Western and world history, a brave new era characterised by the rise of individualism, free thinking and the gradual demise of intolerance and intellectual oppression as exemplified by the control exercised by the Pope and his clergy on Christians’ minds and conscience.
History is, of course, never so simple. The current Quincentenary has been the occasion to revisit some of the topics adhered both to the significance of the Reformation and of the man Luther himself. This is welcome and will merit a commentary once the commemoration will be a thing of the past so that the passing of time can give us a better perspective on the avenues open by the most recent scholarship. But one thing is to let this opportunity to ponder on the Reformation and its main protagonists pass by and another one is to turn a blind eye to the ideological uses and abuses that, as of lately, some interested parties have made of them.
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