Crypto-calvinistic Controversy

Crypto-Calvinistic Controversy the name given to a dispute within the Lutheran Church of Germany (1552-1574) concerning the doctrine of the Lord's Supper. The followers of the Melancthonian doctrine, as distinguished from the strict Lutherans, were styled Crypto-Calvinists (also Philippists, Melancthonians).

1. Melancthon, it is well known, earnestly desired a union of the Lutheran and Calvinistic divisions of the Protestant body. His tendency towards the Calvinistic view of the Lord's Supper was early shown in the difference between the Augsburg Confessio invariata (1530) and the variata (1542). In the former, art. 10, de cona Domini, it is stated that the "body and blood of Christ are truly present in the Lord's Supper (in the form of bread and wine), and are there distributed and received (distribuuntur vescentibus); therefore the opposite doctrine is rejected." In the variata (Liltin of 1540) the reading is "cum pane et vino vere exhibentur corpus et sanguis Christi vescentibus in coena Domini." The condemnation of the "opposite doctrine," i.e. the Zwinglian, is omitted. This alteration did not meet the approbation of Luther, who nevertheless tolerated Melancthon's change of doctrine. But many Lutherans (e.g. Flacius, q.v.) were less tolerant; and during Melancthon's lifetime he was held by many to be a concealed (crypto-) Calvinist. The truth seems to be fairly stated by Hase, as follows: "As Melancthon was convinced that neither Luther's nor Calvin's doctrine of the sacranient was an insuperable bar to saving communion with Christ, he thought he might allow both of them to continue in the Church. But when the doctrine of the omnipresence of Christ's body (ubiquity, q.v.) was proposed as the only saving basis of the Holy Supper, and made, by Brentz, SEE BRENTIUS, the law of the Church in Wirtemberg, he expressed disapprobation of such novel doctrines in provincial Latin being introduced into the symbols of faith" (Church History, § 350). Melancthon and Luther never quarreled on the subject; but the controversy, even during Melancthon's lifetime, began to be bitter. He did not live, however, to see the fierce strife which finally arose on the subject within the bosom of the Church (died 1560).

2. But the controversy, as such, began in the year 1552, when Joachim Westphal, a preacher in Hamburg, proclaimed the Calvinistic doctrine of the Lord's Supper heretical. The controversy was especially violent at Bremen, between Tilemann Heshusius and Albert Hardenberg, cathedral preacher, who acted for the Calvinistic doctrine, and it went on until Hardenberg was dismissed from his position. Shortly after Heshusius shared a like fate. In 1558 Heshusius was made general superintendent at Heidelberg, and he soon detected "Crypto-Calvinism" in deacon Wilhelm Krebitz. In both cities Lutheranism was finally expelled, and Frederick III, elector of the Palatinate, went over to the Reformed Church. In Wuirtemberg Brentz urged the ultra-Lutheran doctrine (see above); but Christoph, duke of Wiirtemberg, endeavored to allay the strife, and finally succeeded, in 1561, at the Fiirstentag (Diet of Princes) at Naumburg, in obtaining the recognition of the altered Augsburg Confession. The elector Frederick III of the Palatinate withdrew from the controversy, and introduced, in 1563, in his dominions a mixed doctrine of Melancthonian tendency, by the incorporation of the Heidelberg Catechism into the state law.

In the Saxon electorate the Wittenberg and Leipzig theologians undertook a like combination of the doctrines. Kaspar Peucer, son-in-law of Melancthon, Cracow, Schiitz, and Stossel; G. Major, P. Eber, Paul Crell, and, later, P. Cruciger, Pezel, Moller, and others, in their writings, and also in the well-known Katechesis, favored the view, and these Melancthonian theologians were called Philippists. The Thuringian theologians in Jena, especially Flacius, also Wigand, Colestrin, Kirchner, and others, were strict Lutherans, and bitterly opposed the electorate Saxons. A conference between the Wittenberg and Jena theologians was held at Altenburg (October, 1568, to March, 1569), in which very intemperate accusations were made against the Philippists. The rupture was widened. The electoral duke Augustus of Saxony called his theologians together in Dresden on the 7-10th of October, 1571. They agreed upon the Consensus Dresdensis and the Wittenberg Catechism, which opposed the doctrine of ubiquity, but used Lutheran language in moderate terms, Melancthonian in spirit; for the time it was thought that the strife was ended. But in 1574 appeared an anonymous work entitled Exegesisperspicua ct ferme integra controversioe de sacra coena, which strongly advocated the Calvinistic view of the Supper. (It has been shown by Heppe, Geschichte des deutsch. Prot. 2:468, that this work was written by the physician Joachim Cureus

[died 1573], and was not originally intended for publication.) The work caused a bitter renewal of the controversy, and the elector determined to suppress Calvinism, and he deposed or imprisoned the leaders, and commanded subscription to the Confession of Torgau (May, 1574). Peucer was imprisoned for twelve years. In 1586 the elector died, and his son, Christian I, succeeded him. Chancellor Nicolas Crell (q.v.) and others influenced him to favor the Calvinistic view. After his death, the duke Frederick William of Saxc-Weimar, who was regent, put down Philippism by brute force, even executing Crell in 1601. See Loscher, Histor. motuum, 1723; Heppe, Geschichte des deutschen Protestantismus, 1852, 2 vols.; Zeitschr. f. d. hist. Theol. 1865, iv; Gieseler, Church History (Smith's), iv, § 37, 38; Gass, Geschichte d. prot. Theol. 1:63 sq.; Hagenbach, History of Doctrines, § 215; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 8:127.

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