The celebration of the late medieval mass and other religious ceremonies was carefully delineated through the ecclesiastical regulations of the Catholic Church. This legalistic approach to worship was strongly criticized by both Desiderius Erasmus and Martin Luther before 1517. With the subsequent Reformation, Luther reacted against Catholic legalism which, he argued, ensnared the faithful and threatened Christian freedom. He was therefore particularly reluctant to specify what he considered to be the appropriate form, place and setting for his German mass. Luther utilized the concept of adiaphora to argue that such issues were matters of indifference as they were not fundamental for salvation. However, this stance was tempered by his realization that such Christian freedom actually did require direction to ensure that the Reformation message was not confused or lost.
Department of History, Philosophy and Culture
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