Reformation and Its Effects on the View of the Devil

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Reformation and Its Effects on the View of the Devil The Reformation was a period from around 1520- 1650. It was a time of religious revolution, where Christianity was being reformed and people were led to reject Catholic traditions and to break with the Papacy. Protestantism was becoming a much more influential religion. Levack and Oldridge mention many reasons why the Reformation led to the increased fear of the Devil, and both try to explain their reasons. Darren Oldridge explains how people before the Reformation saw the devil. They believed that the devil had his limitations and could be defeated, and even sometimes, had a comical depiction. The people, before the Reformation, were mainly Catholic so they could use ‘magic’ rituals such as holy water, relics, and statues to protect themselves from and rid themselves of the devil. Oldridge then goes on to describe how Protestants saw the Devil, after the Reformation. They believed that they could do nothing to earn the love of God and lived in devote prayer. The Devil was said to be everywhere, and Martin Luther once described Satan as ‘the prince and God’ of the earth. Satan was changed from a limited, quite unimportant figure, into a central actor in daily life. This was a much more profound fear of the Devil than Catholicism. Oldridge explains how Catholics see the Devil. They believed in the Devil, but believed that there was a way of defeating him. He explains that when the Reformation occurred, Protestants started to reject the practises of Catholicism. They, therefore, were rejecting the ‘magic’ rituals that Catholics used to fend off the Devil. This meant that Protestants had to invent their own methods of defeating him. The medieval perspectives were that the Devil could assume a physical form and this concern for physical details, especially by Protestants, emphasised the bodily reality of the Devil. People believed that the Devil was located inside a victim.

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