Reformation

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What role did individualism play in the Protestant Reformation?

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Individualism played a significant role in the Reformation. This is not at all surprising when one considers the movement's origins. Luther's insight that justification (being made right with God) was by grace alone, not works, was itself a highly individual response to Scripture, one completely at variance with the position of the Church. Grace came to the individual directly through God, not through collective endeavors such as good works or penance or paying for indulgences to obtain a shorter stay in purgatory.

Luther's doctrine of sola scriptura  also had profoundly individualist repercussions. He believed, in common with all Protestant Reformers, that Scripture was the sole source of Christian truth. The Catholic Church at the time held that ecclesiastical tradition was an equally, if not more important foundation of Christian belief than the Bible. In that sense, truth could be regarded as the product of a collective endeavor by Christ's body down through the ages. Luther,...

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