The Light & the Dark, Volume XXIII
Postlutheran Reformation I
The following texts form together Volume XXIII of my series "The Light and the Dark. A cultural history of dualism".
Volume XXIII has the Postlutheran Reformation as its subject.
Chapter 1 is entitled Radical Reformation. I borrow this title from Williams' great book The Radical Reformation. One who reads the four parts of this chapter the one after the other has read the whole chapter. Each part is concluded with the relevant literature and with notes.
- This is about the Dutch Sacramentists, who no longer in the dogma of Transsubstantiation. They were Wessel Gansfort, Cornelis Hoen and Hinne Rode.
- This part describes the career of Ulrich Zwingli until 1524, how he, originally a Roman Catholic priest, gradually deviated from the Church, finally broke with it, and effectuated the reformation in Zürich.
- This describes the Swiss Reformation, first in Zürich, then in Berne, and the Zwinglian liturgy. There was also resistance to it, and Luther did not agree wat all with Zwingli. The tensions in Switzerland led to a civil war, in which Zwingly fell.
- This is a description of Zwingli's theology, especially his opinion about infant baptism and the Eucharist; about these points he had an acrimonious discussion with Luther.
The chapter is entitled The Anabaptist communities in Waldshut and Moravia. One who reads the four texts the one after the other reads the whole chapter. Each text is concluded with the relevant literature and with notes.
- This text answers the basic question: What is Anabaptism?
- This describes the first Anabaptist community ever, that of Waldshut in Switzerland. It was founded by Balthasar Hubmaier. His career is sketched, and how this community ended.
- From Waldshut Hubmaier went to Nikolsburg in Moravia, where he founded the second Anabaptist community. His theology is described, and also Luther's opposition to him.
- After Hubmaier's death the third Anabaptist community was founded in Austerlitz in Moravia. Its founder was Wilhelm Wiedemann. Later Jakob Hutter became the leader; after him the still existing Hutterites are called. His doctrine of the Church is described, and how this community came to an end.
Chapter III, titled From radical to revolutionary Anabaptism, consists of five parts. Each of them is concluded with the relevant literature and with notes.
- This text describes the role of the Anabaptist prophet Melchior Hoffman, who was active in many parts of Germany, as far away as Livland and Lithuania, in Lübeck, Kiel and East Frisia; he also visited Amsterdam, where there was a fair number of Anabaptists. His main basis was Strasbourg, where he died in prison in 1543. Attention is also paid to the more radical Anabaptist Caspar Schwenckfeldt. Hoffman's theology is described.
- During the 1530's there was much religious ferment in the Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam. Strange incidents occurred; some people were executed. On May 10, 1535, a group of armed Anabaptists made an attempt on Amsterdam, with the aim of establishing the New Jerusalem in this city; led by Jan van Geelen they succeeded in occupying the townhall. Militiamen and soldiers besieged the building and captured it; none of the Anabaptists survived this adventure.
- The `New Jerusalem' was founded in Münster in Westfalen in 1535. In several stages revolutionary Anabaptists succeeded in becoming absolute masters of this episcopal city, where they exercized a reign of terror. A great part of population left the town. The leader was a Dutchman, Jan van Leiden, who proclaimed himself as `King David' and who introduced polygamy. Finally, combined Catholic and Lutheran forces stormed and captured the city. The leaders were executed.
- There were some more violent outbursts of Anabaptism in the Netherlands, but soon more moderate people took over, the first being the brothers Dirk and Obbe Philips.
- It was Menno Simons who set the movement on a new and pacific course. His career is described, as well as his theology and ecclesiology. The still existing Mennonites bear his name.
The title of this chapter is Calvin & Calvinism. There are five texts, each concluded with the relevant literature and with notes.
- This text decribes Calvin''s life until 1536, his parents and family, his schoolyears, his stay at a Parisian college and his academic studies. Calvin was a jurist, not a theologian. It is described how he joined the Reformation. His first publication is mentioned. An incident forced him to leave Paris; we follow him to Basle, Ferrara, and finally to Geneva, where he arrived in 1536.
- This text describes how Geneva became reformed under Calvin's leadership. Soon there were conflicts with recalcitrants.
- Calvin & Geneva: opposition forced him to spend some time in Basle and in Strasbourg, where he married, but later he returned to Geneva. It is explained that Geneva never became a theocracy and that Calvin never was its absolute master. There was always opposition and there were always two factions.
- Michel Servet caused himself difficulties by denying the Trinity. When he was in Geneva, he was arrested, condemned and executed. Calvin did not order his execution, but did nothing to prevent it
- This text extensively discusses Calvin's theology, that of Calvinism, based on his major work, the Institutio christianae religionis. It portrays him as a great protagonist of sola scriptura. He heavenly stressed God's omnipotence and denied free will. The difficult subject of predestination is analyzed. It is examined whether Calvinism is the source of capitalism, as Max Weber would have it; his thesis is rejected. His concept of the Church is described.
Protestant movements differed from each other in many important respects, with the consequence that an all-comprising Protestant Church never originated. Chapter 5 addresses the question what all reformers had in common.