Reformed Christian Body Politics
The reformation, also called Protestantism, refers to the religious revolution that occurred in the Western church in the 16th century. Its key leaders were John Calvin and Martin Luther. The reformation had far-reaching political effects, as it became the basis for the founding of Protestantism (Ryan, 2012). The reformation was crucial to the development of the Western tradition of political ideas as evident in the reformed Christian body politics.
Martin Luther started the Reformation in Germany posting his ninety-five theses, which denounced “false” teachings and corrupt practices of the Catholic Church. Luther refuted the idea of the church being the soul of the body politic. According to Luther, since the soul represents God it should not make the body sick; which the church often did and this was irreconcilable. He held that the Church was an unnecessary intermediate to God. Luther and later Calvin advanced this idea by elucidated that God revealed himself through the scripture and personal relationships. John Calvin advanced Luther’s grassroots effort by taking the idea further whereby he institutionalized the Protestant movement in Geneva. The Protestant wave under Calvin’s leadership and political ideologies legitimized the organizational structure allowing for the Protestant Church’s growth to a regional institution and later to a centralized government (Ryan, 2012).
Anglican Britain fueled the growth of the reformation. This happened when Henry VIII declared himself the leader of the Church of England. This facilitated the changes in body politics from the medieval worldview to the Protestant perspective. Under this view, the head is the ruling party, the knights and nobles represent the chest arms and hands, the common people are the legs and feet. The ruling parties receive authority from God and, for the body to be healthy they must conduct themselves in a law-abiding fashion. Thus, they must serve law and justice as well as attend to the welfare of the people. From the reformed Christian body politics view, the ruling party is treated as a servant to the whole body as opposed to being the commander. Most importantly, all the body parts must function as a cohesive unit by complementing each other and practicing reciprocity to ensure the body remains healthy (Ryan, 2012). This aligns with I Corinthians 12:12–27 teaching, which states that the body is one and has many members, who must operate without dissension to ensure effectiveness.