Well…well…well. I am writing for a bunch of Catholic boyz. Well, I will need to set y’all straight on how Protestants saved the world.
The Protestant Reformation introduced the needed antidotes to the Catholic mindset for Western civilization. It was only because of the religious revolution initiated by Martin Luther that democracy, capitalism, and a sense of individualism could eventually win out over the deadening feudalism of the past.
The Catholic civilization was built upon three essential ingredients that Luther attacked: priestly authority, communal values, and hierarchy. The Church was structured like a pyramid with the Pope on the top and his underlings below him in a ladder of political power. The Priests (symbolically including Cardinals, bishops, and priests) were given a mysterious higher power in society. This allowed them to rule over the common person in all matters that would lead to change in society. Priests would educate the commoner in the truths of the church and tradition. This meant that they held the credentials for information and advice. No one else was allowed to develop ideas and creations that would undermine the priestly class’ opinions. Finally, people were instructed to believe in this rigid hierarchy based upon the notion that all people were essentially corrupt in nature and needed a community, led by a higher authority, to keep them in line.
Okay, so along comes Martin Luther who challenges each one of these beliefs. Martin Luther first challenged the notion of showing external works for salvation. Instead, he stressed internal purity of faith and understanding of God. While this was meant for spiritual issues, Luther was opening the door to individual thought and creativity. Next, Luther attacked the priestly class by arguing that all followers of God were essentially priests and equal in the eyes of God. This implied that all people were capable of achieving equality in function depending upon their individual skills and talents. Finally, he challenged the notion that the Church would be sole source of information and a reflection of God. He argued that the individual should go to the Bible and read it for him or herself. He meant to do this for purposes of salvation. But, check it out! This lays the ground for independent journalism, the need for an educated populace, and the value of individual critical thought.
Now connect all of this to current day Democracy, Capitalism, and Individualism. These are the three foundations of our modern day western civilization that we cherish. Each one of these foundations fits back into the Protestant spiritual rebellion against the Catholic hierarchy. Yes, Luther was rebelling for spiritual reasons. In fact, he argued against a local peasant rebellion against one of the German princes. He argued that his rebellion was only about religious issues and had nothing to do with political or economic equality. But, by attacking the traditions of the Catholic Church, he was opening the possibilities for individualism, critical thought, empowerment of the common people, and an equality based upon ability not position in society.
Well, have I convinced y’all? I know you are all Catholic children. Have I thoroughly changed you? If you would like, I have the address of the local Lutheran church. They accept conversions on a daily basis!!!