The Devil in Luther's Dreams, Part 4
Here is our fourth discussion on the Roman Catholic Church and the humanists of Martin Luther's Germany. This is really a sub-topic in a broader discussion which we hope to continue throughout the coming year, which we have titled Martin Luther in Life and Death. In our first presentation in this endeavor, we discussed aspects of Luther's own life, and we saw that he himself was a humanist, one of the so-called “poets”, who upon having had an epiphany, suddenly turning to Christianity and joined a monastery.
From there we have been presenting a series which we have subtitled The Devil in Luther's Dream, where we have hoped to illustrate the nature of the Roman Catholic Church that the humanist-turned-priest Martin Luther had later sought to reform, and when he found that he could not reform it, he sought to liberate himself and his German Catholic Church from its clutches. What we call the Reformation should in that essence have instead been called the Liberation. It would eventually result in the 30 Years' War and the destruction of much of Medieval Germany.
We have been following something called The Reuchlin Controversy, and that is because the historian that we chose to follow for this series, Johannes Janssen, had wisely chosen this controversy as the centerpiece in order to describe the turmoil which was rising in Germany at the time. There were many Germans, as well as Italians, who sought to destroy the books and the writings of the Jews. As this issue was once again surfacing in Germany, the lawyer, Cabalist and humanist philosopher Johann Reuchlin came to the defense of the Jewish writings in published booklets of his own. As Reuchlin was opposed by the Theologians of the University at Cologne, which was Germany's largest university, the case came to be heard in the courts of bishops, the emperor, and then the pope. It not only became a defining case in the struggle between Christianity and the survival of Judaism in Europe in Luther's time, but we have also seen that the greater number of Germany's humanists and young pagans, whose new philosophy was the direct result of humanism, were rallying to Reuchlin's side of the debate.