It is estimated that religion has been a part of society for over 30,000 years (Leroi-Gourhan and Michelson, October 1986, p.6), throughout that time many religions have been founded; Hinduism, Judaism, which are believed to be some of the earliest religions, and bizarrely Jediism which is thought to have been founded as recently as 2001 (Seibold, 2016). However, in our western culture, one appears to have had greater presence in society since it was established; Christianity.
The history of the first world has been governed by Christianity, whether it be the dissolution of the monasteries under King Henry VIII, or the horrific treatment of Christians under the rule of Emperor Nero, and many more examples besides ref?. Yet throughout this same history, Christianity has been moulded and perceived in multiple ways by various esteemed people, arguably pioneers of religion in their day, thus transforming their society as a whole, and in many cases remodelling their religious practices and beliefs. Certainly English history seems to have been dictated by religion, seen most clearly during the reign of the Tudors when the inconsistent religious standing of the throne cost many civilians their lives and cost the country her status ref needed. This isn’t true of only the 16th century, the conflict in Israel, which is on-going to this day, relies on the conflicting religious beliefs from both aggressors ref needed.
Clearly, religion is, – and has been – a major part of society as a whole and had large influence on individual, so consequently, would be taken seriously by all. A part of this is the willingness to mould one’s self to new religious breakthroughs whether they are adopting them themselves or not. Those that follow religious practices are the community that are, understandably affected the most by these changes, yet are often the group in society than cause the most uproar in response to them.Throughout the past millennium, the new religious revelations have been met predominantly with either reluctance or resistance, and using my question, I am going to investigate how just three of these revelations have been met by society and whether society has changed as a result. In order to achieve this, I have conducted some thorough research to discover both the general consensus of my three factors and the opposing view to decide whether society was changed at all by these amendments, and if so, to what extent. In October 1517, Martin Luther, a monk from Germany (Peregrine, 2017) nailed what would later be known as his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg. These theses ‘attacked the Catholic Church’s corrupt practice’ (History.com staff, 2009) and would later become the basis for the growing popularity of protestarianism.
This seemingly menial act would become the ‘foundation of the Protestant Reformation’ (History.com staff, 2009) and would change the relationship both in the church, and between the church and the state, which would consequently affect the perception of religion for many years to come. He proclaimed “I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith”, inspired by Romans 1 verse 17 see Appendix 1?, (Holman Reference, 2000) he set out to deliver the truth to those who had been blindly taught of penance and purgatory;those who thought ‘Forgiveness was bought’ meaning ‘people were caught in an endless cycle of needing to do more’ (Contagious Bible Ministries,2016), those who spent six hours in confession as he did (Heck, 2017), and those who made an idol out of their priests. Luther, after spending time as a catholic monk, now saw just how alleviated his life would be if his realisation was true, and so, was encouraged to make his discovery public. He was certain in what he had discovered, and was recorded saying “I cannot and will not recant, because acting against conscience is unsafe and threatens salvation.” ‘If what he said was accepted, there would be no need for families to endure poverty to pay for their sins, nor for the congregation to feel inferior than their priest who would be the only person in the church who could read the latin bible and convey it’s truths (Luther’s work would then go on to inspire William Tyndale to translate the Bible to English so many more people would be able to read it for themselves (BBC, 2010)) . Luther’s work gave the people of Wittenberg a new-found freedom and opened their eyes to the real Word of God, not what was told to them by the greedy clergymen of their day.
His work would completely change society’s attitudes towards religion, predominantly due to their controversial nature, but nonetheless, humanity would face new challenges as a result that would dictate their religious stance for good.