Shrewsbury School

'The Monk Who Changed The World'

Monday 2 October 2017

As Ebrahim Jamshid (SH LVI) acknowledges in his report, the fascinating lecture delivered by Mr Humphreys on Thursday 28th September as part of this term’s Academic Extension Series on ‘Watersheds’ was well-named.

I must admit that this lecture has partially changed my understanding of History – and I don’t just say that for dramatic effect.

I always try to refrain from having an almost comic book perception of History, where one person is credited with conquering a continent, saving an entire nation, or indeed single-handedly changing the world forever. I have found that the truth is usually more gritty and complex than it initially appears to be.

However, by revealing the works of Martin Luther and his effect on the world, Mr Humphreys has proven me wrong.

Martin Luther truly did single-handedly change the world forever. He destroyed the supposedly divine power that the clergy had and divided the Christian faith into initially two but subsequently many more different denominations. Furthermore, his works gave rise to the concept of Erastianism, which was the belief in the superiority of the State relative to the Church. This is something we take very much for granted nowadays and it is therefore hard to depict how extremely radical this idea was at the time.

Lastly, one could say that he triggered essential independent thinking. No longer did people simply accept what was force-fed to them by the Catholic Church, but rather they evaluated what was being told to them using their own knowledge of the Bible. It is hard to conceive the incalculable extent to which this, by itself, changed the world. For better or for worse, a large portion of the modern world has Martin Luther to thank for its existence, and it seems that it really was just the actions of one man and his sheer determination that caused it all.

I would like to thank Mr Humphreys for making a truly captivating lecture. The amazing array of pictures shown and the oratory truly kept me, and the large audience representing a wide cross-section of the school community, fascinated throughout.

Ebrahim Jamshid (SH LVI)

back to top