In 1517, German monk Martin Luther cited his grievances as he nailed the 95 Theses to the wall of the church in Wittenberg. Luther’s complaints centered around his disapproval of the selling of indulgences, as the clergy asked for gifts and money in exchange for the remission of one’s sins and to lessen one’s suffering in purgatory or even the chance of eternal life. The citing of these grievances is believed to have begun the Protestant Reformation, with the intention of recreating the Catholic Church. However, Luther was a very controversial figure of the Reformation as he would often contradict himself in various speeches and written works and allow himself to appear as a hypocrite regarding his own beliefs. I argue that In Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants, Martin Luther unjustifiably takes on the responsibility of God himself, as he advocates against the peasants and proposes their murder as a solution; although Luther attempts to justify himself in both of the analyzed works, he is plagued by multiple self-induced paradoxes and contradictions within his works as he commits multiple deadly sins, including going against his own explained words of God, which is best evidenced by the aforementioned In Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants as well as his pamphlet called Freedom of a Christian. Additionally, Luther’s hypocrisy allows for his himself to emerge as selfish and deceitful and willing to go to seemingly any extent to spread the Protestant Reformation in circumstances that will be most beneficial to himself by appealing to the people he desires, and even disregarding mass deaths as a possible consequence in the process.
As both Dr. Reynolds and Forbes mention in their lecture, Martin Luther was initially a supporter of both the peasants and their grievances, which largely included their inability to hunt and fish for food and resources (Forbes; Reynolds). Luther’s support was not lasting however, evidenced in May 1525, when he wrote Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants, where he no longer sided with the peasants and instead explains how these same peasants whom he once supported have actually committed “terrible sins against God and man, but which they have abundantly merited death in body and soul” (Luther 121). In actuality, Martin Luther is committing a terrible sin against God and doing an injustice to the peasants by taking authority into his own hands and attempting to explain right from wrong. Luther explains in the work his desire for all people to abide by the philosophy of “’Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s’” meaning to follow Romans XIII, “’Let everyone be subject unto the higher powers”’ (121). Furthermore, Luther believes that because the peasants are revolting, they are going against God and thus lose the capability of being both inner and outer men. Luther previously explained this concept of an inner and outer man in his pamphlet The Freedom of a Christian. An inner man is the soul and spiritual side of man, whereas the outer man is the bodily, flesh side of humanly nature (Luther 33). Also, the only element in character that one must have for being a Christian is “righteousness and freedom” (34) and he goes on to say that a “Christian is perfectly free lord of all, subject to none” (33-34), thus explaining that there is no need for the guidance of the Pope when you are a Christian.
Luther believes in Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants, that the peasants revolting meant that they “are setting themselves against the higher powers” and “they have forfeited body and soul” (121). The ironic aspect prevalent here is that Luther himself is not subjecting himself to the higher powers. However, if you leave God’s will in the hands of God himself than Martin Luther does not have the right to advocate against the rebellion of the peasants. He needs to allow God to take care of the situation himself,...
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