Philip Schwarzerdt, called Melanchton, was a scholar who taught Greek at the university in Wittenberg, and who readily adopted the Reformation ideas from the start and became Luther’s right hand.
In Loci Communes (1521) he systematically exposed Luther’s ideas.
He was anxious to harmonise Reformation and christian classical studies.
He confirmed the power of the State, awarded by nature, against the supremacy of the Church.
He tried to unite the different trends of reformation and even tried to bridge the gap between Reformation and Catholicism to maintain Christian unity and political unity in the empire.
Luther's right hand and successor
He was the author of the Augsburg Confession submitted to the diet convoked by Charles the Fifth in Augsburg in 1530 to put an end to religious dissensions in the empire. No agreement could be reached with the catholics even though the said Confession of Faith was very restrained. To this day it still is the official confession of faith of the lutherans.
Upon Luther’s decease in 1545, he became the main lutheran leader.
He prompted the creation of universities and colleges, trained the teachers and defined the syllabus.
He published a lot of writings, notably comments on the Bible and dogmatic works.
The Melanchthon House in Bretten (Germany)
The great humanist and famous reformer Philipp Melanchthon, born in Bretten in 1497, was an intimate friend and collaborator, of Luther. A museum in Bretten bears his name, it was built on the site of his birth place.
The Augsburg confession (1530)
This confession of faith was written by Philipp Melanchton for the diet in Augsburg in 1530 and was meant as a unifying text. It was based on the Scriptures and on the first centuries of Church tradition, but also expressed Luther’s theological views. It was to become the lutheran confession of faith as soon as 1555.
Renaissance and Humanism in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries
At the end of the Hundred Years’ War in 1453, Europe was peaceful for a while as there were less disease epidemics and less conflicts. The population grew, cities developed and trade increased. Large banks financed noteworthy initiatives, such as maritime expeditions leading to Great Discoveries. In those good times, later called the Renaissance, the humanist movement evolved.
The Lutheran Reformation
Luther initiated a reformation movement with the aim of correcting the practices as well as the doctrine of the Church. He did not intend to found a new Church. But faced with the refusal of Rome, he gave in and accepted the breach he had not intended.
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Martin Luther’s theology is based on the Bible and not on dogmas. Referring to Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, he claims that salvation is given through God’s grace and not through deeds. It was adopted by Lutheran Churches, and also by the other Reformed Churches, in principle.
Charles the Fifth (1500-1558)
Charles the Fifth inherited a vast empire; although he saw himself as a defender of Catholicism, he was unable to prevent the spread of the Reformation Movement in the Holy Roman Empire. He had to contend with rebellions in Spain, social unrest in Germany, war in Italy and the threat of Turkish invasion in Vienna and the Mediterranean. He spent the end of his life in a Spanish monastery.
Frederic the Wise (1463-1525)
Prince Frederic III, Elector of Saxony, always offered protection to Luther against the Pope’s terrible sentences (he was banned as an outlaw) and also the attacks of Emperor Charles the Fifth.
Lucas Cranach the Elder (1427-1553)
The painter and engraver Lucas Cranach or Cranach the Elder adopted the reformation ideas of Luther as soon as his theses were posted in 1517. He was the official painter at the court of Saxony from 1505 until he died, and painted the portraits of Frederick the Wise and Charles V, among others. He also painted several portraits of Luther as well as altarpieces conveying Reformation ideas, and executed engravings of biblical scenes.
500 years ago… Luther posted his 95 theses!
According to tradition, in 1517, Martin Luther displayed 95 theses on the doors of the chapel of the castle of Wittenberg. The idea was to start a theological controversy on the legitimacy of the trade of “indulgences”, then very active as money had to be found to build the dome of Saint Peter Cathedral in Rome. The impact was far greater than anticipated. The posting of the these became the founding event of the Protestant Reformation the 50th anniversary of which is celebrated in 2017.
Protestant education from the Reform to the Revolution
From the start of the Reform, great importance was assigned to reading and writing, tools necessary to religious instruction based on reading the Bible.