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The Reformation of Feeling: Shaping the Religious Emotions in Early Modern
Germany -­‐ S. C. Karant-­‐Nunn
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)
pp. 1-­‐99
Introduction

! Lutheranism

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‣ Removal of nearly all depictions of women
- Association with feelings -­‐ accompanying irrationality
Issue of correspondence between sermons as given and as printed
John Corrigan -­‐ specialist on emotion and religion
‣ Nico H. Frijda
Aristotle -­‐ essential linkages between mind and body, not oppositions
‣ Platonic principle of emotions' threat to human rationality
‣ Aristotle believed emotions could have positive effects -­‐ could reinforce
virtuous behaviour
Issue of 7 deadly sins -­‐ sloth, gluttony, lust, anger, envy, covetousness and pride
‣ At least 5 were based on wrong feelings -­‐ even these thoughts had to be
confessed
Johan Huzinga -­‐ late Middle Ages did not have inventive energy => relied on repetition
of core ideas
Disagrees with Moeller and Ozment on Catholicism being psychologically
overburdensome
‣ Widespread founding of endowments, relics, pilgrimage, shrines, processions,
priest's blessings etc.
‣ Societal binding power of confraternities and processions
‣ Feeling and expression are inseparable
Jean Delumeau -­‐ emergence of guilt and fear
‣ From self-­‐condemnatory, ascetic impulses of medieval monasticism
‣ Art, ritual, sermon and expanding range of devotional literature
‣ Fear of divine judgement
‣ Self-­‐abnegation as meritorious (Catholicism) or reactive (Protestantism) effort
to palliate God's wrath over sin
Catholicism was flexible -­‐ variety of lives that were allowed
‣ Broad sentimental spectrum -­‐ different levels of devotion
‣ Church distrusted those who surpassed its norms of piety including emotional
notes e.g. Margery Kempe and Ignatius of Loyola
- Religious 'enthusiasm' of the beguines
Gradually became more available to society at large
‣ Germany -­‐ penitential and anti-­‐heresy preachers
Piety of post-­‐Reformation Christianity -­‐ mostly found in late medieval Catholicism
‣ Ideals of religious feeling existed earlier


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! Protocols, ordinances, catechisms, sermons and devotional tracts reveal similar patterns

through Lutheranism, Catholicism and Calvinism


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! 3 categories of expression
‣ Adornment of sacred spaces
‣ Central meanings of ritual life
‣ Deliberate reflection of theology in ritual and in sermons written for the public
by the clergy


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The Emotions in Early-­‐Modern Catholicism

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Saint Bernard of Clairvaux publicised the tradition of affective piety
Establishment of mendicant orders to prevent heresy
Multiplicity and incorporation
Mysticism
Not orderly -­‐ rural masses were likely to be neglected
Rhetorical descriptions of the passion
‣ Incitement to weep
16th century -­‐ continuity of doctrine on the Passion and emotional approach
Post-­‐Tridentine -­‐ less flexible church that was less open to accommodate differing views
Criticism of fanatic Protestants who do not think it proper to weep
Could be overcome whilst preaching
Emotional identification with Christ was now the basis and evidence of commitment to
the Catholic faith
‣ Evangelicals and Reformed Christians saw this as abhorrent
‣ Jesus had accomplished the Atonement once and for all -­‐ 'They thought
Catholics behaved as though their efforts to revivify the Passion had merit in
themselves -­‐ as indeed their preachers implied' (p. 60)
Catholics saw the hyper suffering of Christ to be beyond the realms of human psychic
and psychical agonies
Repetition and elaboration of feeling
‣ Also seen in confession
‣ Used religious emotion as an instrument towards calm obedience


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The Lutheran Churches

Late Medieval Piety
! Popularisation of the concept of affective piety
‣ Spirituality of the 12th century -­‐ pattern of expression in the Cistercian
monastery
! 13th and 14th centuries -­‐ cult of the Passion, Christ's Wounds and the Eucharist (Corpus
Christi) increased in membership
! Claim that God interacted with humanity through the material world -­‐ idea that people
could manipulate sacral artefacts and influence God to grant them favours => Reformers
condemned the artefacts and their veneration
! Pre-­‐Reformation religiosity -­‐ widespread manifestation of fervour as an ideal
! Bernd Moeller -­‐ devotion of the German people around 1500 was 'intense' and 'ardent'
‣ Not satisfied by the institutional Church

- Inference that the Lutheran Reformation met the genuine spiritual needs
of the populace
Lutheran ritual and decoration showed that emotion-­‐oriented piety was at an end or at
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least severely curtailed
‣ Changes in liturgical words, gestures, cultic artefacts and the arrangement of
the sacral space
- People understood that they should not dramatically act out their
devotion
- Protestant piety, guided by the Word of God, was explicitly defined as
quiet submission to the workings of faith within the individual Christian

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Lutheran Church Adornment
! Martyrdom images -­‐ elicited identification with and horror at the ordeal
‣ Penitence for one's own sin
‣ Agonised body to arouse emotion
! Crucifixion -­‐ should feel with the Son of God
! Artistic presence of the Virgin and other female saints -­‐ emotionality and corporality
stood at the centre of the definition of femininity


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! Image breakers punished objects for their ineffectuality
! Reformers wanted the Christian to understand the doctrine of atonement with their
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heart and their mind
Luther -­‐ saints had achieved no good by themselves
‣ Virtues were a gift of God
Holy women with all their levels of meaning nearly vanished
‣ Mary was usually only cast as one sorrowing figure at the foot of the cross
Signalled that the best religiosity was calm, interior and unrelated to material objects
Treasures and decorations of the Catholic Church elicited emotion
‣ Both Lutheran and Reformed varieties of Protestantism cleansed the
sanctuaries of elaborate and valuable cultic equipment
Gradually the clergy ceased to wear impressive chasubles and made do with simple
surplices
Latin => German
Central feature was usually called the service of God (Gottesdienst) rather than the Mass
‣ Mass => less moving partaking of the Lord's Supper (Abendmahl) after the
sermon
‣ Lutheran churches retained auricular confession on the preceding day
Lutheran retention of the real presence -­‐ still continued to administer a miracle
‣ Had to be disposed of so as not to be used as a sacramentals -­‐ indicates
presence of superstition in some areas
Issues about the proper handling of the Host
‣ Lutheran parishioners were unhappy enough to inform parish visitors that their
pastor had dropped the wafers or had broken them into pieces
- Elements of Communion still posed supernatural and emotional fore
among people -­‐ present Body of the Lord
Divines took verbal, visual and disciplinary measures to reduce the inclination toward
emotive piety
Agonised crucifixion is replaced by the obedient Son of God who has fulfilled His task of
atonement -­‐ minimum of blood is visible on his corpse

! Visitation records -­‐ pregnant women and the sick desired frequent communion => saw it

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as potent

The Word Preached
! Bernd Moeller -­‐ without the printed book there could have been no Reformation
‣ Arguably, this also applies to the sermon
‣ Large audience
‣ Heightened emphasis on the Scripture as preached
- Avid desire to know more about their faith
! Rural clerics were often shockingly ignorant of both Catholic and Lutheran teaching
! Saxony -­‐ higher training system only emerges early in the 17th century
! Visitation records -­‐ worry that preachers might be teaching heresy

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Martin Luther
! 1525 sermon -­‐ rejects the idea of imitating Christ's 40 days in the wilderness
‣ Labels this 'monkey-­‐business'
‣ Says that Lenten self-­‐denial was meant as a good work -­‐ Catholic
- Bible does not prescribe it -­‐ invented by men
‣ Should be a private spiritual matter
! 1523 -­‐ Palm Sunday homily
‣ The law does not produce love, faith does
! Talks of Jesus's agony
! Christians are to rejoice and be grateful for the gift of atonement
! Luther often talks of the worthlessness of reason in religious questions
! 1528 Palm Sunday sermon -­‐ 'For whatever one sees or feels with his reason, that he does
not believe . . . For that reason, he has to hang on the bare Word, shut his eyes, blind his
reason, and only prick up his ears and stand upon the Word and write it on his heart' (p.
83)
‣ Only feeling elicited by hearing the Scripture preached is admissible
! Luther's church is not striving to eliminate strong feelings in response to its spiritual
ministrations -­‐ chief response to the Passion of gratitude
! Passion of Christ must be preached -­‐ conditions people to receive the Eucharist
‣ Visitation records reveal many German laypeople only had this once a year


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Lectures on Galatians (1535)

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Reason
! Distinctions
‣ Law v. gospel
‣ Active v. passive righteousness
! Righteousness of faith is best
‣ Beyond the Law -­‐ Law is only useful before in helping us recognise our own
sinfulness
! Could teach Christians to ignore the law and live before God as though there were no
law whatever
! 'This is our theology, by which we teach a precise distinction between these 2 kinds of
righteousness, the active and the passive, so that morality and faith, works and grace,
secular society and religion may not be confused'
‣ 'Christian righteousness applies to the new man, and the righteousness of the
Law applies to the old man, who is born of flesh and blood'
! Catholics cannot see beyond the Law
! Righteousness of the law -­‐ earthly
‣ Yet we must first be justified by Christian righteousness -­‐ heavenly and passive
He who has lost
Christ will trust his own works
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! 'For between these 2 kinds of righteousness, the active righteousness of the Law and
the passive righteousness of Christ, there is no middle ground'
‣ Can see this in fanatical spirits and sectarians

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Chapter 2
! Paul taught that the Gentiles were justified by faith alone, without the works of the Law
! Circumcision is not necessary for justification
! True and false uses of the gospel
‣ Truth -­‐ righteousness is from faith alone without works of the Law


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! Works of the law are holy, righteous and good but they are not justificatory
‣ Condemns 'dangerous and wicked opinion of the papists'
! 'They did not see that ignorance, hatred and contempt of God in the heart, ingratitude,
murmuring against God and resistance to the will of God are also moral sin, and that the
flesh cannot think, say or do anything except what is diabolical and opposed to God'
‣ Should not discuss merits of congruity and condignity
! Papists, Zwinglians and Anabaptists will misinterpret the -­‐ change the Law into Christ


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Class

! The lectures were delivered in 1531 -­‐ published in 1535
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‣ To restate the doctrine of faith alone
Passive righteousness -­‐ recognise own sinfulness
God has tolerated our weakness -­‐ should not continue in Catholic errors
Would be willing to concede ceremonies to the papists if they would allow justification
by faith alone
Gospel v. Law -­‐ everything else does not lead to justification

‣ Pauline idea


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Different academic context -­‐ not disputation or a tract
First passage -­‐ main location of his theology of passive righteousness
Galatia -­‐ church is requiring circumcision
‣ Paul is upset by this -­‐ writes a letter to them
Main function of the Law is to reveal sin
‣ Describes what is right
‣ Function is different from its content
‣ Content -­‐ what righteousness is and how to behave
‣ Need to look at its use and how it is perceived
Law of the Decalogue
‣ Moses teaches this -­‐ reveals sin
Righteousness of faith and imputed through Christ
‣ Related to the righteousness of the law
Conflating doctrine of righteousness with that of justification


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! Pope's laws -­‐ if following these leads to salvation, what about Jesus Christ?
‣ Trusting in works -­‐ denies the power of Christ
! Yet laws may be beneficial in telling you how to live out life


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! Anyone who does not have passive righteousness will not have peace brought to their
terrified conscience
‣ Major idea also found in Melanchthon
‣ Peace and consolation


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! 1530s -­‐ Osiandrian controversy
‣ Righteousness was both imputed and infused
- All the Lutherans join force against Osiander
! God wants to make sinful creatures righteous
‣ Imputation -­‐ transfer of righteousness through Christ's atonement
- You are judged righteous by God
‣ Infusion -­‐ you are transformed so that you are actually righteous => receive
God's grace
! Predestination
‣ How do you know you are saved?
‣ Anxiety => idea of indications of the elect


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! Luther -­‐ certainty of salvation through the word and the sacraments
! Council of Trent explicitly rejects justification by imputation
! Catholic view may go back to Augustine => God's love poured into the spirit


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! Proclaims faith to the Gentiles -­‐ should not feel burdened by the law and they do not
need to be circumcised
‣ Were already given the Holy Spirit -­‐ God has accepted them as believers
! We do not reject pious practices such as fasting -­‐ yet we do not see them as obtaining
forgiveness
! Critique of Jerome's commentary

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