Owen Chadwick

in The Early Reformation on the Continent

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780198269021
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600470 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the Christian Church


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The Reformation transformed the idea of ‘conversion’, seeing it as a moment of perceiving the truth and a transformation of the soul, shown in the overwhelming perception of new truth followed by the decision to act upon this experience. Conversion was thus in theory not a process but a moment, but among the leading Reformers it was in reality more of a slow process of enlightenment resulting from reading, thought, and teaching. In the case of Luther, it is impossible to pinpoint any moment of conversion. His ideas grew as he was forced to defend himself against the accusation of heresy and therefore he had to define exactly what he thought. The crucial moments were the Leipzig disputation in July 1519 and the Diet of Worms in spring 1521, and the key theological point became the doctrine of the mass. Luther's refusal to recant at Worms and his having to go into hiding in the Wartburg fortress turned him into a legend, admired and hated for saying what he thought.

Keywords: conversion; Diet of Worms; Martin Luther

Chapter.  12443 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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