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The Birth of Modern Belief$
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Ethan H. Shagan

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174747

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174747.001.0001

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The Reformation of Belief

The Reformation of Belief

(p.65) Chapter Two The Reformation of Belief
The Birth of Modern Belief

Ethan H. Shagan

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the controversy behind Luther's suggestion that belief in the existence of God was exceptional rather than ubiquitous. Luther made the starkest and most rarefied variety of belief the only one that counted: all others were mere simulacra, the debased epistemology of the world, so that people who lacked the full benefits of faith did not really believe that God is. The result was a topography of Europe's religious landscape as unrecognizable to Luther's first auditors as it is to modern historians: Luther argued that Christian belief was vanishingly rare in European society, belonging only to a small minority within a seething mass of infidels.

Keywords:   Luther, God, belief, simulacra, epistemology, Europe, modern historians, infidels

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