An anthropological examination of the reformation: egalitarianism versus hierarchy

Creator: 

Baxter, Stephen

Date: 

2003

Abstract: 

Anthropology and sociology for the most part have neglected an in depth examination of the Protestant Reformation. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the debates and differences between Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism and Anabaptism in terms of the ideas concerning the nature of the religious community and in terms of the dichotomy between egalitarianism and authoritarianism. On one side of the dichotomy Roman Catholicism which over time moved away from autonomy and egalitarian principals of the early Christian Church and towards hierarchy and authoritarianism. On the other side of that same dichotomy are the Anabaptists who promoted communal living, sharing and egalitarianism. Luther(anism) within my theoretical framework is somewhat of an anomaly because clearly this new interpretation wanted change and opposed some aspects of Roman Catholic practice and beliefs: Luther(anism) questioned the role and legitimacy of papal authority; the role and authority of the priesthood (and their worldliness, ignorance, cormption and apathy); the nature of the sacraments; the appropriateness of selling indulgences, and the interpretation of the sacraments and Bible. But Luther did not promote egalitarianism. The thesis concludes that a study of the debates and differences between Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism and Anabaptism is a helpful contribution to understanding the ideas concerning the nature of the religious community in terms of the literature concerning the dichotomy between egalitarianism and authoritarianism.

Subject: 

Church history -- 16th century
Reformation
Authoritarianism
Equality

Language: 

English

Publisher: 

Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 
M.A.

Thesis Degree Level: 

Master's

Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Anthropology

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

Items in CURVE are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. They are made available with permission from the author(s).