• From Gospel to Law: The Lutheran Reformation and Its Impact on Legal Culture

    Author(s):
    John Witte, Jr. (see profile)
    Date:
    2016
    Subject(s):
    Church history, Law, Religion, Canon law
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Tag(s):
    Martin Luther, Civil Law, Two Kingdoms Theory, Marriage and Family, Law and Religion
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/q4dq-zp15
    Abstract:
    The Lutheran Reformation transformed not only theology and the church but also law and the state. Despite his early rebuke of law in favor of the Gospel, Martin Luther eventually joined up with various jurists and political leaders to craft ambitious legal reforms of church, state, and society on the strength of Luther’s new theology, particularly his new two kingdoms theory. These legal reforms were defined and defended in hundreds of monographs, pamphlets, and sermons published by Lutheran writers from the 1520s onward. They were refined and routinized in hundreds of new reformation ordinances that brought fundamental changes to theology and law, to church and state, marriage and family, criminal law and procedure, and education and charity. Critics have long treated this legal phase of the Reformation as a corruption of Luther’s original message of Christian freedom from the strictures of all human laws and traditions. But Luther ultimately realized that he needed the law to stabilize and enforce the new Protestant teachings. Radical theological reforms had made possible fundamental legal reforms. Fundamental legal reforms, in turn, would make palpable radical theological reforms. In the course of the 1530s onward, the Lutheran Reformation became in its essence both a theological and a legal reform movement. It struck new balances between law and Gospel, rule and equity, order and faith, and structure and spirit.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Book chapter    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    7 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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