Young Luther and His Ninety-five Theses. Part 1

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Chief Research Fellow
Affiliation: Department of Western Philosophy of Institute of Philosophy Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameVoprosy filosofii
EditionIssue 12

The article is the response to the 500th Anniversary of Reformation, celebrated in 2017. The author tries to reveal the deep – in terms of civilization renovation – meaning of young Luther’s theology, polemically presented in his Ninety-five Theses on indulgences (1517).

The first part of the article is an attempt to present the socio-philosophical analysis of the Reformation era. The author believes that it is possible to interpret it as an epoch of commercialism the beginning of which could be defined as commodity exchange leading over commodity production. Society has been under the power of the cynically-merchant feudalism which not only did not give chance to survive the newly born manufacture craft production but was in some way similar to the formation of a supranational system of profitable serfdom, resembling an Ancient Roman plantation slavery. Commercialistic economic cynicism has caused demoralization which afflicted all traditional estates of the realm. The natural reaction to that has become a protest by God-fearing laymen against “the rule of mammon” that by the beginning of the 16th century took apocalyptically severe forms. The Late Medieval Church has not been able neither heal nor reduce these ailments. In the status of supranational church-state it itself has gone through a phase of merchandised-feudal corruption. The ultimate expression of this process became a trade of scapegoats (indulgences). Deadlock spiritual situation of the soteriologically concerned Christian could not be overcome by any rational means discussed in the theories of ideology. The way out became possible thanks to the paradoxical teaching of the faith which Luther began to construct and which proved to be adequate to wrenching moral and religious searching typical for epoch of commercialism as well as to objective historical challenge.

KeywordsMartin Luther, Reformation, church, theology, commercialism, indulgences, good deeds, faith, consciousness, sin, salvation
Publication date20.12.2018
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