Martin Luther And His Writings In The 12 Articles History Document Study

1291 words - 6 pages

Document Study
The Twelve Articles
Martin Luther
Sophia Khan
CHY4Ue- World History Since the 15th Century
November 8, 2017
Instructor: T. Gunn
Khan 1
Twelve Articles was a German religious document drafted by the lower class during the
German Peasants’ War of 1525. These articles written by the peasants were considered the first
draft of human rights and secular freedoms in all of Europe. The peasants drew up Twelve
Articles as an appeal to their lords that grounded their requests in the theological work of Martin
Luther1; a German theologian and religious reformer that brought about the Protestant
reformation.2 Luther upheld a new view of theology that rested on God’s gracious activity in
Jesus Christ rather than in human works.3 Even though the peasants considered his work
foundational, Luther did not support their rebellious uprising and believed that the peasants
should obey secular authority throughout their religious journey.4 Martin Luther argues
throughout Twelve Articles that the peasants do not ground their arguments in God’s word and
will; but in their own rage and struggle against the divine word and natural law. This is shown
through the strength of Luther’s counter- arguments of article seven, in which the peasants
address their oppression, and in article twelve, where the peasants assert their requests purely in
God’s divine word and natural law.
In the 16th century, there was a gaping divide among the social classes. The peasants of
Germany were the lowest strata of society, and were the property of the individual(s) in charge of
them. In the seventh article, the peasants detail their oppression by the hands of their Lords. The
seventh article states:
In the future we will not allow ourselves to be further oppressed by the lords. Rather, a
man shall possess his holding according to the terms on which it has been granted, that is,
according to the agreement between the lord and the peasants (Luther 3).5
Luther counters this by stating:
Khan 2
[Y]ou say that the rulers are wicked and intolerable, for they will not allow us to have the
Gospel, they oppress us too hard with the burdens they lay on our property, and they are
ruining us in body and soul. I answer: The fact that the rulers are wicked and unjust does
not excuse disorder and rebellion, for the punishing of the wickedness is not the
responsibility of everyone, but of the worldly rulers who bear the sword. Thus Paul says
in Romans 13 [:4] and Peter, in I Peter [2:14], that the rulers are instituted by God for the
punishment of the wicked (Luther 4).6
Luther grounds his arguments on theological facts that strengthen the believability and credibility
of his argument. By introducing bible verses of the new testament, Luther asserts the importance
of secular power, while still crediting the divine power and natural law of God; something that
the Peasants failed to do. Luther ignores the fact that peasants are somewhat oppressed by their
lords because it is not properly...

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