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Friends of Martin Luther? Quakers and the Protestant Reformation

This article was first published in The Friend on 27 October 2017.
Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther published his Ninety-five Theses (also known as the Disputation on the Power of Indulgences), an event that has come to symbolise the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Emerging a little over a hundred years later, the Quaker movement was one product of these momentous changes. Despite this, the Quaker response to Luther’s ideas, particularly as they were later developed and intensified by John Calvin, was not altogether positive.  So, how do Friends relate to Luther and the Protestant Reformation? Are we Friends of Luther or not?

Early Friends were part of what has been called the Radical Reformation. Dissenting groups, such as the Anabaptists and Quakers, agreed with Luther and Calvin about the need for reform, but wanted more substantial change than the mainstream reformers were prepared to contemplate. At the same time, these groups retained a commitment to certain aspects …

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