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Women and the Protestant Reformation

Luther and the Reformers went to war against the evangelical counsels as ideals and as the core of a vowed, religious life. Every woman—it was assumed—was meant for marriage, children, and homemaking.

At the end of October 2016, Pope Francis traveled to Lund, Sweden. He was there to commemorate the beginning of a momentous anniversary: five hundred years since Martin Luther’s posting of his “95 Theses” on October 31, 1517 and therefore the commonly-recognized beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

The Reformation and narratives

Historians dispute whether or not the iconic event—the Augustinian priest literally nailing the document on the Wittenburg church door on that date—actually occurred. Whatever the case, the date stuck, and half a millennium later, we can look forward to an anniversary year of conversations about Luther and the revolution he set in motion. The usefulness of these conversations, like any dialogue, will be directly proportional to their honesty and how accurately rooted they are in history, rather than in ideology, wishful thinking, or contemporary agendas.

There are innumerable possible tangents in this conversation, countless angles to explore. What did Luther actually say and teach? Was his take on faith, grace, and St. Paul well-informed? What were the ecclesiastical, political, economic, and social roots of the events that tore Europe apart in the 16th century? And what was the impact?

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