Wittenberg, the Concord of
Wittenberg, The Concord Of signed May 29, 1536, denotes one of the most interesting, as also one of the most important, stages in that series of negotiations which, during the first period of the Reformation, was carried on in order to bring about an agreement between the Swiss and Saxon reformers. Politically, landgrave Philip of Hesse was the motive power of these negotiations; theologically, Bucer; and the personal meeting which the former brought about, in 1534, between the latter and Melanchthon, at Cassel, formed the introduction to the larger assembly at Wittenberg, held in 1536. The hard words which Luther let drop in his letter to Albrecht of Brandenburg, immediately after Zwingli's death, showed the aversion he nourished to him; and it was well known how anxiously he watched that no one inclined to the Zwinglian doctrine of the Lord's Supper should be allowed to keep up community with the Saxon camp, as his letters to Brunswick, Munster, and Augsburg show (De Wette, 4:472; 6:143). With Melanchthon, however, a change had taken place. He learned from OEcolampadius's Dialogus that many of those passages from the fathers which he had quoted: in his Sententiae Veterum Aliquot Scriptorum de Coena Domini (Corpus Reformatorum, volume 26) were mere interpolations, and that Augustine never taught a "manducatio oralis," etc. Thus he wrote to Bucer, in April 1531: "Aliquando inter nos veram et solidam concordiam coiturum esse, idque ut fiat, deum oro, certe quantum possum ad hoc annitar. Nunquam placuit mihi haec violentia et hostilis digladiatio inter Lutherum et Cinglium. Melius illi causae consultum fuerit, si sinamus paulatim consilescere has tragicas contentiones"' (ibid. 2:498). Under the influence of Bucer's expositions he gradually lost all interest in Luther's peculiar conception of the Lord's Supper, and became more and more anxious for the elimination of all elements of discord between the two evangelical churches.
In March 1533, he wrote to Bucer concerning the moderation which both had hitherto shown, and begs of him as instantly as possible "ut det operam, magis ut contentiones istae sedentur atque consilescant, quam ut excitentur et inflammentur" (ibid. 2:641); and in a letter written October 10, 1533, Melanchthon even goes so far as to write to Bucer, "Utinam saltem nos aliquando possemus una commentari atque communicare de doctrina" (ibid. 2:675). The Swiss had also become more susceptible to the idea of concord. Bucer had succeeded in gaining over to the side of reconciliation Myconius in Basel, Bullinger in Zurich, his colleague Capito, etc., and in the summer of 1534 an attempt at practical union was made, and proved successful, in Wurtemberg, and on July 31 a colloquy was held at Stuttgart, in the presence of duke Ulrich, between Simon Grynaeus of Basel and Ambrosius Blaurer of Constance, who represented the Swiss, and Erhard Schnepf, the Lutheran representative. In the same year, December 27, Bucer and Melanchthon met at Cassel, and in spite of the very stringent instructions which Luther had given Melanchthon, they succeeded in drawing up a formula of concord which satisfied both. Copies of the formula were sent to Urbanus Rhegius, Brenz, Amsdorf, and Agricola, with the request, "an ita sentientes tolerandi sint, ne damnentur" (ibid. 2:826). On October 5, 1535, Luther wrote to Strasburg, Augbururg, Ulm, Esslingen, to Gerion Seller and Huberinus, etc., inviting them to a general discussion of the formula of concord. Eisenach was decided upon- as the place of rendezvous. In April Bucer left Constance, accompanied by nine preachers. As they progressed they were joined by Capito, Musculus, Bonifacius Wolfhard of Augsburg, Gervasius Schuler of Memmingen and Martin Frecht of Ulm. At Esslingen they were joined by others. Meanwhile Luther had fallen sick. and. requested the visitors to come to Grimma; they determined, however, to go directly to Wittenberg. On May 22, at seven o'clock in the morning, Bucer and Capito went to Luther's study. At three o'clock in the afternoon they again went to Luther, accompanied by Bugenhagen, Jonas, Cruciger, Menius, Mecum, Weller, and magister Georg Rovarius. Luther was suffering, irritable, harsh; Bucer became confused. The subject of the debate was the doctrine of the Lord's Supper. Luther demanded that the Swiss should make a formal recantation of what they had hitherto believed and taught; this they refused, on the ground that they could not recant anything which they had never taught or believed. The next day, however, everything was changed. Bucer was clear and adroit, Luther was mild and kind. After some debate the Saxon theologians retired to another room to deliberate in private, and the result was the formula proposed by the Swiss was substantially accepted. May 24 the assembly met in Melanchthon's house. The subjects of the discussion were baptism, absolution, the school, etc., and the agreement which was arrived at was chiefly due to the tact and resolution of Bugenhagen. On Sunday Bucer preached in the forenoon, Luther in the afternoon; and all the members of the assembly took the Lord's Supper together. Lutherans, like Osiander and Amsdorf, were not satisfied with the result; they continued to demand that Bucer should recant. But Luther himself spoke for a long time with great contentment and confidence of the affair. In Switzerland, too, there were some difficulties to overcome; but Bucer succeeded. See Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v. (B.P.)