Major, Georg

Major, Georg a German theologian, was born at Nuremberg. April 25, 1502. He studied theology under Luther and Melancthon, and was successively rector at Magdeburg (1529), superintendent at Eisleben (1536), and professor of theology and court-preacher at Wittenberg (1539). In 1544 he was made doctor of divinity, and two years later he was one of the representatives (with Bucer and Brenz) of the Protestants at the colloquy at Regensburg. On the breaking out of the Smalcald war, Major left Wittenberg, and received (1547) the appointment of superintendent and court-preacher at Merseburg; but, on the close of the war, next year, he returned to Wittenberg. After rejecting the offer of prominent positions, made by the king of Denmark and the duke of Holstein, he became, in 1552, superintendent of the Mansfeld churches. In the mean time he had been active in supporting the Leipzic Interim, which asserted that good works are necessary to salvation, and had thus excited the suspicion of the strict Lutherans, who denied that proposition. Towards the close of 1551 Amsdorf assailed Major on these grounds, and the clergy of the district soon joined him in opposing the new superintendent, as having corrupted the doctrine of justification by faith. Major replied to the charge of Amsdorf in 1552, denying its truth, and asserting his acceptance of the doctrine of the Church; but, as he still insisted on the necessity of good works, the controversy continued to rage, and, as the count of Mansfeld held with the orthodox party, Major finally removed to Wittenberg. He then sought to give an unobjectionable form to his views by teaching that while faith alone is essential to salvation, good works are necessary as a consequent on saving faith. But, despite every effort at reconciliation, his opponents persisted, and even went to the length of asserting that good works are detrimental to salvation. The doctrines advocated by Major were finally branded as heretical in the Corpus doctrinae Prutenicnum, and were rejected by the compilers of the Formula Concordiae. Towards the close of his life he became involved in the Crypto-calvinistic controversy (q.v.), and, together with the Wittenberg and Leipzic theologians, was compelled to subscribe to the Torgau articles (q.v.). He died at Wittenberg, Nov. 28,1574, before the Majoristic controversy was concluded. A portion of his works, comprising homilies and commentaries on the Gospels and on the Pauline epistles was published at Wittenberg in 1569, in three folio volumes. See Schröckh, Kirchengeschichte seit der Reformation, 4:547 sq.; Planck, Gesch. des Prot. Lehrbegriffs, 4:468 sq.; Aschbach, Kirchen-Lexikon, vol. 4, s.v.; Wetzer u. Welte, Kirchen- Lexikon, vol. 6; Krauth, Conservative Ref. p. 147 et passim; Kurtz, Manual Ch. Hist. 2:135; Smith's Gieseler, Eccles. History, vol. 4, § 37; T'homasius, Confess. der Evang. Luth. Kirche (Nuremb. 1848), p. 100 sq. (G. M.)

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