On the Historical Practice and Theology of Christian Spirituality


The purpose of this course or lecture series is to reiterate the importance of the laity in the history of Christianity. In light of the promising role of lay leadership and lay ministry in the emergent church today, we need to retrieve the unknown history of lay ministry among both lay women and men, Protestant and Catholic, in centuries past and present. Inspired by my first course in this area, A Spirituality for Today’s Laity, offered at the Institute of Pastoral Studies, Loyola University of Chicago (1990), it raises the necessary theological questions for engaging the active ministry and leadership of the laity, with practical strategies proposed for how we might work toward what Anne Rowthorn has termed the “the liberation of the laity” (in her book by the same title).

By the late Middle Ages many laymen were capable of writing religious and theological works with some degree of sophistication, but were still scorned by the clergy as ‘illiterate’ because they did not know Latin. The very term for ‘lay person,’ ‘Laie,’ which was derived from the Greek ‘laos,’ ‘people,’ was usually understood in the medieval period to refer to those were not clerics, but it also referred to those who were ‘illiterate’ in the above sense, that is, without a knowledge of Latin. Such theological distinctions helped maintain the élitism of the clerical profession throughout the whole of the Middle Ages. As late as the thirteenth century an Italian tried to argue that the term ‘layman’ (laicus) originated from the word for stone (lapis) because the layman is “rough and ignorant of letters.”

At the same time, the paradigmatic shift in the status of the laity occurred well before the Reformation – in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. As a result of the democratization of education, translations of highly esteemed mystical writings were now available in the vernacular, including those of van Ruusbroec and the Devotio Moderna (Modern Devotion) and the famous Dominican friar and theologian, Meister Eckhart, and his disciples, Johannes Tauler and Henry Suso. The literary inroads made by this “vernacular theology” among religious and laity were significant, and would culminate in the widespread dissemination of mystical texts and teachings in fourteenth and fifteenth century Germany.

One of the most charismatic grassroots religious movements in thirteenth and fourteenth-century Europe, seldom mentioned in most church history courses, was the Beguine movement. The Beguines were lay women, including some who were married, who chose personal vows of apostolic poverty to live together in households and ‘religious’ communities on their own terms. Even though these communities of laywomen lived out their own religious vows under the supervision of the Dominicans (Eckhart and his disciples) and Franciscans, they eluded the direct control and surveillance of churchmen responsible for administering the female religious orders.

Salient literary strands of vernacular theology among the Beguines, the Friends of God and the Devotio Moderna can be found in the vernacular preaching and sermons of Meister Eckhart and his disciples, Tauler and Suso, as well as the in Theologia Deutsch (later translated by Martin Luther in 1516 and 1518). But the rapid growth of vernacular literature at this time and bourgeoning of the Beguine movement at the same time was no mere coincidence. The increasing literary production of the so-called “vulgar” languages, i.e., Flemish, German, and French, converged with the founding of voluntary Christian communities of lay women living together in Beguine house or communities, called Beguinages.

The communal ethos of the Beguine movement virtually excluded males and shunned male authority de facto, thus transgressing every social norm prescribed by the medieval church and society. Furthermore, the lay character and spirituality of their “religious” vocation exposed the waning vitality of the professional religious orders, inevitably incurring the jealousy and suspicion of the latter. Not surprisingly, the phenomenal growth of this lay-inspired movement in the thirteenth century warranted the scrupulous eye of the ecclesiastical authorities. The mystique of the Beguines’ undefined status vis-à-vis cloistered ‘religious’ women and male ecclesiastical authority would factor in their condemnation for heresy by Pope Clement V in 1311.

Akin to the Devotio Moderna, the spiritual practice and vernacular writing of the Beguines rebuffed the traditional aristocracy of mystical knowledge by making their message accessible to the lay audiences to whom they preached and taught. Both their spirituality and their vernacular literary output demonstrate what the Reformation historian Heiko Oberman called a “strong tendency towards democratization of mysticism.” The literary genius of Eckhart and his disciples as well as that of the Beguines and Devotio Moderna is evident in how poignantly they expressed themselves in the vernacular, and in how they accommodated their writings to the feelings and mundane experience of ordinary people. “Outside of the traditional monastic and clerical cadres,” the Catholic scholar Yves Congar states, “lay people began to affirm themselves as Christian and spiritual. These are the initial moments in which the affirmation of a laical sentiment awakens.”

The German medieval historian Herbert Grundmann was the first scholar to recognize the historical significance of the Beguine movement back in 1935, which he aptly described as a “religious movement by women” (religiöse Frauenbewegung) during the Middle Ages. Grundmann argued that the Beguines, like many other women of the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries, pursued the ideal of apostolic poverty that would in turn reinvigorate religious thought and life during the Middle Ages. Although the Beguines were only one form of the new styles of religious life adopted by women in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, they were likely the most creative in this unprecedented historical movement that German medievalists still refer to as the Frauenbewegung (i.e., women’s movement). This religiöse Frauenbewegung deserves its rightful historical place in the rise of vernacular theology and “democratization of the soul” in late medieval Rhineland Germany.

By the sixteenth century, the spread of humanism in lay circles made it possible to distinguish between the ‘intelligent,’ the ‘kluge,’ the laity who had Latin and the ‘simple,’ ‘einfeltige,’ laity, who at best could read German. By writing in the German language, reformers such as Martin Luther and Eberlin von Günzburg demonstrated that they were not ‘ashamed’ to do this. Reformation historian Peter Matheson has noted the historic significance of this shift in choosing the vernacular. Choosing to speak and write in the vulgar language meant a clean break with the traditional élitist view of education and language of the Church. In other words, there were no longer ‘two kinds of Christians,’ ‘spiritual’ and ‘worldly,’ using two different languages.

In the wake of the German Reformation, Luther’s clarion call for the “the priesthood of all believers” eclipsed the once indispensable role of the clergy. The term ‘anti-clericalism’ often refers to the vocal criticism of the flagrant abuses and corruption of the Roman Catholic church in late medieval Europe. By the time of the Reformation, however, anti-clericalism culminated in the widespread demand that the clerical estate be abolished once and for all. Once venerated for his sacramental role in providing the means to salvation, the priest was now seen in the opposite light – as a hindrance to the salvation of the common believer.

In summary, this course or lecture series provides contemporary Christians with the historical precedent for reclaiming the biblical mandate that “all are called” to the practice of ministry as disciples of Jesus Christ. It offers a stimulating theological critique of the unwarranted historical images of the laity as spiritually and morally subordinate to the elevated and superior status of the clergy. From the spectacular growth of late medieval vernacular theology to the growing democratization of lay education and spirituality, this course or lecture series charts the catalytic role of anti-clericalism and mysticism in late medieval and early modern European Christendom, culminating in the German and English Reformations.


The premise of this course or lecture series is a critical review of the mystical texts and treatises ascribed to the fourteenth-century Christian mystics Marguerite Porete and Meister Eckhart, and the subsequent charges of heresy leveled at them in view of their popular writings and sermons. Whether religious or lay, both male and female mystics posed a menace to the Roman Catholic church for whom traditional ecclesiastical authority was both sacred and paramount. This course or lecture series re-examines the reciprocal relationship of lay and religious women (i.e., the Beguine movement) in the late Middle Ages to the famous Dominican friar and theologian, Meister Eckhart, and his disciples, Johannes Tauler and Henry Suso, and the Friends of God movement.

As one of the first victims of the Inquisition in Paris, the solitary French Beguine Marguerite Porete was condemned for heresy and burned at the stake with her heretical manuscript, The Mirror of Simple Souls, on June 1, 1310. Partly because of his decision to preach in German, the same language in which his listeners spoke and prayed – instead of Latin – Meister Eckhart would be condemned by Pope John XXII for heresy on March 27, 1329, accused of “preaching persistently to simple persons.” Eckhart’s own mystical theology was likely influenced by his familiarity with Porete’s Mirror.

The unprecedented growth of lay spirituality and the burgeoning of ‘experiential mysticism’ among the common people during this time undoubtedly precipitated this confrontation between Porete and Eckhart and their ecclesiastical adversaries – albeit each under different circumstances. Regardless, both Porete’s and Eckhart’s explicit emphasis on the vernacular dissemination of their mystical teachings lent renewed legitimacy to popular mysticism and lay piety in anticipation of the German Reformation.

The acclaimed immediacy of mystical experience was seen as potentially dangerous and heretical by the late medieval church because it relativized their ultimate ecclesiastical authority in two major ways. First, it gave ultimate priority to the direct personal experience of God by way of mystical union. By its very nature, mysticism provides an impetus for completely circumventing the official authority of ecclesiastical institutions in no uncertain terms./p>

Second, the professed ‘illumination’ that comes by way of genuine mystical experience sees through the blinding facade of the church’s infallible truth claims as the sole arbiter of divine revelation. Hence, mystical illumination exposes the scandalous monopoly of God’s Word maintained by the prevailing clerical, ecclesiastical hierarchy. Mystical experience risks making the traditionally binding authority of the institutional church redundant. When solitary lay, uncloistered Beguine women who live by their own vows within their own religious communities claim the experiential veracity of their direct encounter with God, their gendered mystical experience becomes authoritative. For Beguine women like Marguerite Porete, this mystical union binds them to the same God to whom they are spiritually espoused.

In regards to Marguerite’s condemnation for heresy, her interrogators’ misinterpretations of selected passages of The Mirror of Simple Souls were wrenched from their literary contexts as a pretext for seemingly similar political motivations. The Mirror, was after all, written in the vernacular, not in the scholarly Latin, thus making it accessible to those whom Marguerite calls the ‘little ones of Holy Church’ or ‘simple souls,’ that is, common people without much formal learning. It is not surprising, therefore, that Marguerite enjoyed such a faithful following among such ‘simple souls,’ both male and female.

This course or lecture series draws on my extensive research for my doctoral thesis which traces the seminal influence of late medieval German mysticism on the radical reformers, Karlstadt and Müntzer. In particular, I examined the ways in which Eckhart’s influence at large and practice of vernacular preaching helped vindicate the ‘vulgar and common’ language of the laity – not unlike Marguerite. In addition to designing and offering adult education courses on this and related topics, such as Witches, Mystics and Free Spirits, I have conceived and taught similar courses in adult education on medieval mysticism, comparing Eastern mysticism with Western mysticism.

I remain profoundly indebted to one of my mentors and teachers, Matthew Fox, a spiritual theologian and well-known lecturer on Creation Spirituality, for his substantive scholarly research on Meister Eckhart and the Beguine movement. I was thrilled to enroll and complete the first year of the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality, which Fox founded at Mundelein College in Chicago in 1978. This fortuitously led to Fox’s kind invitation to assist him with research for his new translation and commentary on Eckhart, as well as compiling the indices of both Scriptural references and spirituality themes for the 545 pages pre-publication manuscript for it – long before computers! Matthew Fox’s new critical translation with his introduction and commentary, Breakthrough: Meister Eckhart’s Creation Spirituality in New Translation (Doubleday & Company, 1980), has since been reprinted as the Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 2000).

As mentioned in the above profile on 7) Whetting Our Spiritual Appetite, I was privileged to team teach Mysticism East and West (1999-2000) with the late Deo Kernahan, a former editor for Vision TV and a prominent Hindu spokesperson in the Greater Toronto Area. We offered Mysticism East and West: Mirabai and Marguerite Porete (1999), and Mysticism East and West: Kabir and Meister Eckhart (1999-2000). My first (and new) M. Div. courses in this area were offered at the Toronto School of Theology: Spiritual Forerunners of the Reformation (1990/91) and Late Medieval Mysticism and the Roots of Dissent (1992).

One of my most gratifying courses on the mysticism of Eckhart and Porete was one I taught at Saint Paul School of Theology on Late Medieval Mysticism (2005). M. Div. students were not only assigned to critically read the English translation of Porete’s densely mystical manuscript; they were asked to dramatically share and present their respective interpretations of The Mirror of Simple Souls in class. The creativity and diversity of presentations from the nearly forty students in this seminary class is still a poignant memory of mine to this day. As already implied in the above courses, we can no more underestimate the life-changing effect of ancient biblical narratives for Christians today than we can dismiss the same transformative power evoked by the account of a condemned woman burned at the stake for professing her ardent love of God seven centuries ago.


This particular course or lecture series re-examines two of the most fascinating yet largely misinterpreted dissenting voices from Luther: the ‘radical reformers’ Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt and Thomas Müntzer. Within two short centuries of the heretical condemnation of Marguerite Porete and Meister Eckhart, albeit in a vastly different historical context, it was charges of blasphemy and sedition, not heresy per se, that sealed the tragic fate of Müntzer. Within a fortnight of the bloody slaughter of more than 6,000 rebels by the princes’ army of Hessian and Saxon mercenaries in the climactic battle at Frankenhausen of the German Peasants’ War, Müntzer, who had managed to escape the battle, was soon captured, interrogated under torture, and beheaded on May 27, 1525.

Although both Karlstadt and his Orlamünde congregation adamantly denied backing Müntzer’s call to revolution, Karlstadt’s former association with Müntzer implicated him. Luther charged Karlstadt of having the same “rebellious and murderous spirit” as Müntzer in his sarcastic diatribe, “Against the Heavenly Prophets” (1525), which was partly to blame for Karlstadt’s expulsion from Electoral Saxony. Like Müntzer, Karlstadt was subjected time and time again to the constant threat of exile and expulsion. Forced to seek refuge in city after city, Karlstadt finally found refuge at the University of Basel in 1534.

Until recently, Karlstadt has been generally denied his historic significance vis-à-vis the overarching figure of Luther. Meanwhile, Müntzer has been frequently dismissed if not demonized by Lutheran historiography, which has subsequently blamed him for instigating the German Peasants’ War, beginning with Luther and Melanchthon. Based on my extensive doctoral research on Karlstadt and Müntzer, this course takes as its premise the same one I determined for my doctoral thesis: that both Karlstadt and Müntzer were enamored by the ‘vernacular theology’ and spiritual teachings drawn from the German mysticism of Eckhart and his Dominican disciples, Tauler and Suso, as well as the Theologia Deutsch (which Luther himself translated in 1516 and 1518).

This course or lecture series looks at the reasons Karlstadt and Müntzer were so intrigued by late medieval German mysticism, more than their professed practice of mysticism. Yet there is no doubt among Radical Reformation historians that German mysticism indeed captivated Karlstadt and Müntzer. As we have already seen in the above two courses, the sheer momentum of late medieval lay movements and vernacular theology usurped the traditional hegemony and legitimacy of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

The flourishing of lay spirituality in late medieval Rhineland Germany coincided with the growing public intolerance with the flagrant abuses of the Roman Catholic clergy and church in European Christendom. In many ways, the rise of lay mysticism fueled the smoldering fire of anticlerical dissent. This crescendo of late-medieval anticlericalism gave voice to the strident and widespread indignation at a corrupt church. Although it culminated dramatically in Luther’s sustained polemic and reforms, it was hardly limited to Luther. In fact, without the vociferous anticlericalism of the common people, “the Reformation,” according to the German Reformation historian, Hans-Jürgen Goertz, “would have re-mained a mere idea.” In Goertz’s words, anticlericalism thus proved to be “a force which fundamentally shaped and determined the direction of the Reformation.”

Without pre-Reformation anticlericalism, the awakening of lay identity and spirituality among the common people from the late-medieval period to the German Reformation would have been unlikely. The turbulent historical transition from the Late Middle Ages to early modern period is epitomized by the inescapable tension between the truth claims of mysticism and those of the Roman institutional church. Whether transcribed in their own words by their own testimony, or ascribed to them by sympathizing clerics, the Spirit-infused voices of the gemeine Mann (‘the common man’) resounded with a new-found dignity in the wake of the German Reformation.

Although the evangelical impulse among the laity was ignited and legitimized by Luther and other reformers, the growing demands by commoners and aspiration for lay spirituality could not be satisfied. Other dissenting voices were heard besides Luther’s. While initially welcoming Luther’s prophetic protest at the Roman church, those dissident voices once enamored with Luther became disillusioned with Luther and his reforms, resulting in a bitter invective against Luther as well as the detested papists.

Contrary to Luther’s emphasis on the sole biblical authority of God’s ‘outer Word,’ Karlstadt, Müntzer and other radical reformers espoused the priority of the Holy Spirit’s authority via the ‘inner Word.’ Karlstadt and Müntzer were convinced that ‘the poor, little people’ in Reformation Germany, that is, the lowly and lay gemeine Mann (‘the common man’) whose cause Luther had purportedly championed, had the capacity to hear and heed the ‘inner Word.’ Karlstadt’s and Müntzer’s theological outlook was thus shaped by their ‘Spiritualist’ interpretation of Scripture.

Though blamed for his role in instigating the German Peasants’ War (or ‘Revolution of the Common Man’), Müntzer’s actual involvement in the uprising might be more accurately described as that of a charismatic military chaplain and spiritual leader for the insurgents’ army. Although Luther’s and Melanchthon’s infamous judgment of Müntzer was not historically founded, it has played perfectly into the hands of the victors of the Peasants’ War by scapegoating their legendary ringleader. Nevertheless, Müntzer’s most significant historical legacy can be seen in both his profound theological influence on south German and Austrian Anabaptism and radical Pietism as well as on the Spiritualists, namely, Hans Denck, Sebastian Franck, and on his own follower, Hans Hut.

On Christmas Day, 1521, Karlstadt broke radically with centuries of Catholic tradition by celebrating the first evangelical communion service of the Reformation at All Saints Church before two thousand people. Dressed in plain clothes, Karlstadt distributed the sacrament in both kinds (bread and wine). For the first time in the Reformation, the words of Eucharistic institution were spoken in the vernacular German instead of Latin.

Regardless of their differences and divergent fates, the powerful combination of anticlerical dissent and mysticism in both Karlstadt and Müntzer contributed to legitimizing the growing status of the evangelical layman and the laity in general. In fact, Karlstadt was the first reformer to implement the full equality of all believers, including the freedom of the laity to read and interpret Scripture for themselves. The predominant Protestant understanding of the Lord’s Supper as a memorial can be largely attributed to Karlstadt’s liturgical legacy. Like Luther, Karlstadt strongly affirmed the centrality of Scripture and the mediation of grace via the external word of God, yet Karlstadt never compromised the priority of the internal witness of the Spirit by way of the ‘inner Word of God.’


Given the politically volatile and religiously divisive world in which we now live, it is important to understand some of the historical antecedents in which religious toleration and its antithesis, religious violence, were alternately sanctioned or motivated by religious forces and ideologies. The explicit purpose of this course or lecture series is to provide a succinct overview of the pertinent issues and religious, cultural, and social tensions that existed between Christians and Jews, and between Christians and Muslims, in early modern Europe.

This course draws most recently on lecture material for my senior seminar undergraduate course on “Society, Culture, and Religion in Renaissance and Reformation Europe” for the Department of History, University of Toronto (2008/09). This same material includes further research expanding on my recent entry on “Toleration in the Reformation,” in The New Westminster Dictionary of Church History. Volume One: The Early, Medieval and Reformation Eras (2008).

First of all, this course or lecture series provides a conceptual framework for examining what we now call ‘religious toleration’ among early modern Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Most of this period’s writings on toleration, though, were focused exclusively on freedom of conscience, as championed by Luther at the Diet of Worms and by other humanist reformers influenced by Erasmus. Many of the same reformers who were predisposed towards some form of religious tolerance, however, argued strongly against it for political reasons. To a lesser degree toleration ensured the limited freedom of worship, yet freedom of religion never implied freedom from religion, as we often assume it did.

When Luther published his now classic statement on religious toleration, On Secular Authority, in 1523, he was adamant that civil authorities should under no circumstances try to fight heresy with the sword. Within only two years, however, Luther was forced to amend his original stance on toleration in response to the radical demands of Müntzer and Karlstadt and the outbreak of the German Peasants’ War in 1524.

The other aspect of my research on which this course or lecture series is based is how the above notions of religious toleration laid the groundwork for what we now recognize as universalism, the belief in universal salvation. Despite the prevalence of religious and sectarian intolerance in sixteenth-century Europe, this course or lecture series situates the complex sociological and historical context out of which the idea of toleration emerges.

The case for universal salvation was bolstered by Sebastian Castellio, whose pointed attack on John Calvin’s doctrine of predestination was a boost to further arguments sympathetic to religious toleration. Castellio’s argument can be summed up this way: to persecute anyone for the sake of religion is irreligious, since God desires the salvation of all humanity and has created no one for damnation. The belief in universalism, integral to the spread of religious toleration, was forged in particular by radical reformers Hans Denck and Sebastian Franck. Denck and Franck believed God was available to every spiritual person “without any mediation.” Franck even stated boldly: “I have my brothers among the Turks, Papists, Jews, and all peoples.”

Second, and more significantly, I concur with recent efforts by social and cultural historians in redefining religious toleration in the violence-ridden age of early modern Europe. Refer to my recent book review of Benjamin J. Kaplan’s new book, Divided by Faith: Religious Conflict and the Practice of Toleration in Early Modern Europe (Harvard University Press, 2007) in my curriculum vitae (page three). I believe Kaplan’s redefinition of toleration holds considerable promise for reframing the historical meaning of “toleration” in early modern Europe.

Besides mystifying the multiple ways in which all sorts of people practiced toleration, Kaplan recognizes the theoretical limits of the conventional belief that elites were the primary movers in determining policies and attitudes of toleration. “It asks only how much tolerance prevailed in a particular time and place, failing to acknowledge that qualitatively different kinds of tolerance may exist. In this way it distorts our vision of the past, as it narrows our thinking about ways to avoid or resolve conflict in the present.”

The thrust of Kaplan’s book is therefore focused on how early modern Christians of different confessions lived together in “peaceful coexistence” within the same village, town, or city – and how these people interacted daily with the very people they were taught to hate, which included, of course, Jews and Muslims. For people of different religious identities then, religious toleration was therefore not just an abstract concept or policy formulated by theologians and ruling elites. It was a practical form of behavior by which people who lived in religiously mixed communities could get along together without killing each other.

My historical research background uncovers the longstanding theological roots of religious intolerance mediated by the visceral and racist contempt of Jews as “infidels” by their enforced segregation to the ghetto, and by the vilification of Jews through anti-Jewish propaganda, i.e., the Judensau (Jewish Sow) visual motif. In the first instance, the pernicious historic legacy of Christian anti-Judaism in early modern Europe was palpably driven home to me when I recently toured the Jewish ghetto in Venice while giving a paper at the 2010 Renaissance Society of America.

In the second case, I draw on unpublished research to date on the above Judensau motif and the Christian censure of Jews as usurers and moneylenders in late medieval and early modern Europe. My fascination with this topic formally commenced with my SCSC paper on “The Judensau (Jewish Sow) as a Medium of Christian Anti-Jewish Polemic” (1988); refer to curriculum vitae (page six). I was privileged to share some of this research on late medieval and early modern Christian anti-Judaism at the Rabbi’s Seminar at Beth David B’Nai Israel Beth Am Synagogue, in Toronto (1995).

As a current Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies in Toronto, my research in this area includes the socio-historical phenomena of exile and expulsion, particularly in the early modern period of European Christendom. Refer to my curriculum vitae (page six) regarding my recent paper in Montreal for the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference (SCSC) on the radical reformers Andreas Karlstadt and Thomas Müntzer, “Fight or Flight: The Political Exigency of Earthly Exile for ‘Heavenly Prophets,’” in a session I organized for the SCSC on the topic of Exile, Expulsion, and Religious Refugees in the Early Modern World.

This course or lecture series on Chris(t)-Crossing Cultural Boundaries is also inspired by collaborative research on exile and expulsion with faculty colleagues and graduate students this past year in an interdisciplinary Jackman Humanities Institute Working Group at the University of Toronto. Our explicit focus on exile and expulsion promises to expand the traditional emphasis on “Reformation” to include not just Catholics and Protestants, but also Jews and Muslims, indigenous groups in the Americas, and marginalized communities in Asia.

Furthermore, this course or lecture series examines how earlier advocates of religious toleration, Luther foremost among them, were also instrumental in fostering anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim sentiment. Luther epitomized the worst of religious intolerance by lending his anti-Jewish vitriolic to the renewed upsurge of anti-Semitism during the sixteenth century. In a Janus-like contrast to the Spiritualist Sebastian Franck’s precursory ecumenism, Luther envisaged Satan’s final, apocalyptic assault on the church led by the devil’s legion of Jews, Romans, heretics, and Turks.

With respect to Muslims, “Luther viewed Islam as fundamentally a religion of works righteousness,” according to Reformation historian Gregory Miller. “In contrast to medieval writers, Luther avoided designating the faith of the Turks as heresy. According to Luther, Muslims worship a different God than Christians; they worship the devil himself,” citing Miller in The New Westminster Dictionary of Church History. Volume One: The Early, Medieval and Reformation Eras (2008).

In conclusion, this course or lecture series affords a critical look back to early modern Europe, in order to identify the diverse sociological and historical factors which precipitated religious hostilities and ethnic rivalries – of which many remain unresolved and contentious to this very day.