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After the Death of Luther —

How the Formula Of Concord Was Forged

Part Nine

The Crypto-Calvinists Self-destruct

After Luther’s death in 1546 Melanchthon’s followers, with his help, conspired to replace Luther’s doctrine with Calvin’s, at Wittenberg, Leipzig, and across Germany. Their stealth book, Exegesis Perspicua, revealed their dishonesty and allegiance to Calvin. Elector August, a faithful Lutheran who had been deceived by the Crypto-Calvinists, was angered and humiliated.

The Crypto-Calvinists added to their fame as liars in 1574, when a Calvinist devotional book was delivered to the wrong person. The sly letter enclosed with the book, from Melanchthon’s son-in-law, suggested that Elector August be converted through his wife Anna. August ordered an investigation, which revealed even more intrigue. The Crypto- Calvinists were thrown into prison. August took on a leadership role in restoring genuine Lutheran doctrine. Martin Chemnitz, Jacob Andreae, and Nicholas Selnecker were made trusted advisors to August.

Articles VII (Of the Holy Supper) and VIII (Of the Person of Christ) refute the errors of the Crypto-Calvinists. One statement is:

“On account of this personal union and communion of the natures, Mary, the most blessed Virgin, bore not a mere man, but, as the angel {Gabriel} testifies, such a man as is truly the Son of the most high God, who showed His divine majesty even in His mother’s womb, inasmuch as He was born of a virgin, with her virginity inviolate. Therefore she is truly the mother of God, and nevertheless remained a virgin” (Article VIII, Triglotta, p. 1023).

As horrible as the Crypto-Calvinist reign appeared at the time, their excesses and sudden collapse provided a God-given way to unite Lutherans in a common confession. At the Colloquy of Worms in 1557, the Lutherans were divided, thanks to Melanchthon, and the Romanists refused to negotiate with them. Many unity efforts failed, until Jacob Andreae published his Six Christian Sermons in 1573.

Andreae’s sermons, the collapse of the Crypto-Calvinists, and Martin Chemnitz’s leadership all combined to generate movement toward the Formula of Concord. The Formula of Concord required the cooperation of Andreae, Chemnitz, Selnecker, David Chytraeus, Musculus, and Cornerus. Most people could not abide Andreae, but he was crucial in getting the work started and completed. Chemnitz was the dominant theologian, but the others all contributed significant insights to the Formula, which was signed in 1577.

The Book of Concord, which includes the Ecumenical Creeds, the Augsburg Confession, the Apology to the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord, was completed in 1580.

–Pastor Gregory L. Jackson