Turbulence along pathway

Group 236


Two paths diverged in the woods: which one to choose?

In 1510, Martin Luther returned from a visit to Rome to begin teaching and scholarship that called for major institutional changes. The famous humanist scholar Erasmus of Rotterdam returned to England, having spent time in Rome, and published In Praise of Folly (1511) which mocked many church practices. The book deeply impressed Luther, so much so that turned to Erasmus’ translation of the New Testament in preparations to challenge the selling of indulgences. Erasmus praised Luther’s 95 theses.

Then, dramatically, they parted ways. Luther went on to a five-year period of protest that resulted in his break with the established church. Silent at first, Erasmus soon rejected Luther’s efforts. Erasmus sought accommodation through limited institutional changes. He also remained faithful to the Pope, concluding that Luther was too extreme. Luther saw Erasmus as lacking the strength of conviction to confront thorny issues

In the end, Erasmus opted for the stability of the established church. Choosing a different path, Luther made the decision to embrace the turbulence that often accompanies reform.