Abstract
Andrews, Robert M A way of dealing with historical episodes, the consequences of which continue to challenge us, is to ask a counterfactual-a 'what if?' question. Martin Luther's life, his critique of the Catholic Church, his challenge to the social and political hegemony of European Catholicism, the resultant splintering of an ecclesial unity assumed by the medieval mind to be practically impenetrable, is one such historical episode. My counterfactual is as follows: What would have been the consequences to European Catholicism had Luther not rebelled against the church? As this article will later discuss, Luther famously spent many hours in the confessional during his time as an Augustinian friar. Luther's superior, spiritual guide, and confessor, Johann von Staupitz -whose motto was 'I am yours, save me'-often assured Luther that his sins were forgiven, that Christ's work had been done, and that he consequently had no need to despair of the mercy of God. It was advice that Luther ultimately found unsatisfactory. 'I did not love, no, rather I hated the just God who punishes sinners', Luther famously said in 1545, reflecting on his time as a monk, articulating a conscience that found solace only outside of Roman communion.
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