Commemoration of Philipp Melanchthon (birth), Confessor

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Melanchthon, by Lucas Cranach the Younger

 

Today marks the birth of the early Lutheran confessor, Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560).  In his A Year With the Church Fathers, Scott R. Murray describes him thus:

Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560) was a brilliant student of the classics and a humanist scholar.  In 1518, he was appointed to teach along with Martin Luther at the University of Wittenberg.  At Luther’s urging, Melancththon began teaching theology and Scripture in addition to his courses in classical studies.

In April 1530, Emperor Charles V called an official meeting between the representatives of Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism, hopping to effect a meeting of minds between two opposing groups.  Since Luther was at that time under papal excommunication and an imperial ban, Melanchthon was assigned the duty of being the chief Lutheran representative at this meeting.  He is especially remembered and honored as the author of the Augsburg Confession, which was officially presented by the German princes to the emperor on June 25, 1530, as the defining document of Lutheranism within Christendom.  Melanchthon died on April 19, 1560.[1]

Melanchthon also has the unfortunate distinction of having originated the Philippist party in early Lutheranism, which, as opposed to the Gnesio-Lutherans, had seemingly embraced a number of Calvinistic beliefs and tendencies that Melanchthon came to hold in his later life (notably, Melanchthon had come to disagree with Luther’s views on good works and had forwarded a synergistic view, see the Synergistic Controversy).  His embracing of these other ideas led him to revise previous writings, most notably the Augsburg Confession, to be more in-line with them.  These views were eventually rejected in the Formula of Concord (FC I & II), and the Lutheran Church would adopt the “unaltered” Augsburg Confession as a confessional document.

Regardless, despite his theological shifts later in life, Melanchthon still had a valuable and indelible impact on the Lutheran Church and the Reformation.

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1 Murray, S. R. 2011. A Year with the Church Fathers. St Louis: Concordia Publishing House, p. 48.

Reblogged: Martin Chemnitz, Pastor and Theologian (Aardvark Alley)

Martin Chemnitz

My unabashed reposting of other people’s material continues with Orycteropus Afer’s post for yesterday’s commemoration of Martin Chemnitz, the “Second Martin” of the Lutheran Reformation.  See an excerpt below after the jump.

Martin Chemnitz, Pastor and Theologian (November 9)

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9 November AD 1522 – 8 April AD 1586

Today marks the birthday of Martin Chemnitz, Pastor and Confessor. We regard him as, after Martin Luther, the Lutheran Church’s most important theologian. He possessed a penetrating intellect and an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture and the Church Fathers combined with a genuine love for the Church.

Doctrinal quarrels after Luther’s death in 1546 led Chemnitz to give himself fully to the restoration of unity in the Lutheran Church. He became the leading spirit and a principal author of the 1577 Formula of Concord, which settled the doctrinal disputes on the basis of the Scriptures and largely succeeded in restoring unity among Lutherans. Work on the Formula led Chemnitz and others to gather all the normative doctrinal statements confessed by the Lutherans, from the ancient creeds through the Evangelical writings of the 16th Century, into one volume, the Book of Concord.

Chemnitz also authored the four volume Examination of the Council of Trent (1565-1573). This monumental work saw him rigorously subjecting the pronouncements of this Roman Catholic Council to judgment by Scripture and the Church Fathers. The Examination is the definitive Lutheran answer to the Concilium Tridentinum and an outstanding exposition of the faith of the Augsburg Confession.