Reformation : a Two-edged Sword in the Cause of the Ministry of Women1

When Martin Luther mounted an attack on the industry of Indulgences, he affirmed key Reformation principles: human beings are saved by God's grace alone and the priesthood of all the baptised gives all followers of Christ equal status. This was in conformity with an earlier generation of reform...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Feminist theology
Main Author: Houston, Fleur S. (Author)
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: [2017]
In:Feminist theology
Year: 2017, Volume: 26, Issue: 1, Pages: 19-33
Further subjects:B Reformation and women
B KEMPE, Margery
B Martin Luther
B Constance Coltman
B LUTHER, Martin, 1483-1546
B Margery Kempe
B Reformation
B Protestant
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Summary:When Martin Luther mounted an attack on the industry of Indulgences, he affirmed key Reformation principles: human beings are saved by God's grace alone and the priesthood of all the baptised gives all followers of Christ equal status. This was in conformity with an earlier generation of reformers who saw the Bible as ultimate authority and witnessed to biblical truth against corruption. The logical consequence of this should have been the enabling of women who were so disposed to exercise a theological vocation. In practice, the resulting rupture in religious and social life often affected women for the worse. Educational formation and leadership opportunities were restricted by the closure of convents. While the trade guilds, with their tightly regulated social systems, did not allow scope for women who transgressed normative expectations, their suppression was not necessarily liberating for women. The new social model of the home replaced that of convent and guild and marriage was exalted in place of celibacy. Changes in devotional practice involved loss and gain. Women who did not conform to the domestic norm were treated at best with misogyny and female prophets of the radical Reformation paid for their convictions with their lives. In education, leadership, piety and radical social challenge, women's options were restricted. However, the key Reformation principles ultimately enabled the development of women's ministry which was marked by the ordination of Constance Todd 400 years later.
ISSN:1745-5189
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1177/0966735017711870