How would German—and indeed European—history have turned out if it hadn’t been for Martin Luther? In Luther’s day, the Renaissance and humanist movements had evolved critical thinking to spawn a more self-confident conception of mankind. Luther’s critique had an electrifying impact on the whole of the western world, offering the chance for a fundamental reformation of the Church.
But Luther went from reformer to fundamentalist, fulminating against the rebellious farmers, stirring up hatred against the Jews and alienating both his disciples and adversaries with his intractable obstinacy. If it hadn’t been for Luther, the church schism and the disastrous conjunction of political power and religious confession which ultimately led to the Thirty Years War would never have come about.
• a provocative contribution to the 2017 Luther Year
• a critical perspective on the Reformation and its consequences