The Formation of the Evangelical Confession in Germany: Melanchthon and religious polemics in the middle of the 16th century

Natal’ya Aleksandrovna Berezhnaya PhD of History, senior lecturer, Institute of History, Saint-Petersburg State University (Mendeleevskaya liniya, 5, Saint-Petersburg, Russia, 199034),

Berezhnaya N. A. The Formation of the Evangelical Confession in Germany: Melanchthon and religious polemics in the middle of the 16th century, Religiya. Tserkov’. Obshchestvo. Issledovaniya i publikatsii po teologii i religii [Religion. Church. Society: Research and publications in the field of theology and religious studies], Saint-Petersburg, 2019, vol. 8, pp. 216–253.

doi: 10.24411/2308-0698-2019-00012

Language: Russian

The present article examines the formation of the evangelical denomination in Germany for fifteen years after the death of Martin Luther. The author analyses the relationship and dogmatic disagreements between  Luther and Philipp Melanchthon, Melanchthon’s activities as a leader of German Protestants, his attempts to create a new formula of dogma, which was to unite the supporters of the two versions of the Augsburg Confession, unaltered and altered, and the Gnesio-Lutherans. In addition, the author notes the communication of Melanchthon with the princely elite of Protestant Germany. These communications are of interest, since it was the authority of the imperial princes that helped the theologian lead the Evangelical Church. The main subject of internal protestant discussions in the second half of the 1540–1550s were the adiaphora and the Eucharist. The GnesioLutherans accused Melanchthon of «cryptocalvinism» because of the peculiarities of his views on the Eucharist, and also because of his unwillingness to refuse Calvin in response to the proposal to unite the evangelical and reformist confession. However, Luther himself did not require his comrade to renounce his views, that is, he did not consider them an error. GnesioLutheran theologians would have found it difficult to accuse Melanchthon of apostasy if not for his position on the issue of adiaphora and for the support of the Elector Moritz of Saxony.

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Key words: Philipp Melanchthon, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Evangelical Church, Gnesio-Lutherans, Reformed tradition, Adiaphora, Eucharist


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