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Bohemia, Lutheran Theology in.

1. Movement inaugurated by J. Hus* did not immediately issue in any definitive theol. formulation. In early yrs. the leader expressly directed the Bohemian* Brethren “to let the Law of God [the New Testament] suffice and believe it purely, forsaking all other writings.” Thus, when Luther challenged authority of RC Ch., the Hussites were ready for a theol.

2. Luke* of Prague, bp. of the Brethren, was their doctrinal leader. His spiritualistic conception of Lord's Supper clashed with that of Luther, and until Luke's death the Brethren were torn between the two. In this connection Luther composed his treatise of 1523 “On the Adoration of the Sacrament.” But when Luke died, the Luth. teaching prevailed among the Brethren, and after several consultations Luther expressed approval of their position.

3. The position was expressed in the confession of 1535. Despite differences in terminology and emphasis, it is strongly Luth., and from it we may date the half c. or so of official predominance of Luth. theol. in Boh. Protestantism. In doctrine of Lord's Supper the Brethren accepted the true presence of Christ but insisted on an interpretation of Christ's sitting on the right hand of the Father that differed from Luther's; they were also at variance with his view of Communion of the unworthy. But Luther was willing to overlook these differences and in 1538 pub. the confession with his preface and endorsement. See also Reformed Confessions, E 3.

4. Meanwhile the Hussite* majority, the Utraquists, also experienced the impact of the Luth. Reformation. Most of them became Neo-Utraquists, i. e., Lutheran-minded. They expressed their new theol. position in the Boh. Confession of 1575, a combined confession of Neo-Utraquists and Boh. Brethren, seeking legal recognition from the king. He would give it only on the basis of a confession parallel to the AC. For this reason the Boh. Confession is not an accurate representation of the actual theol. situation among the Brethren at the time.

5. Alienated by both Philippism and Gnesio-Lutheranism and attracted by John Calvin's emphasis on discipline, the Brethren had begun to switch their theol. orientation from Wittenberg to Geneva. This can be seen in the thought and activity of their last bp., Comenius,* who quite consistently supported Ref. against Luth. theol.

Whatever chance there may have been for a rebirth of Luth. theol. in Boh. was crushed by the Battle of White Hill (1620) and the consequent victory of the Counter* Reformation. JP, MSF. See also Bohemian Brethren.

G. Loesche, Luther, Melanchthon und Calvin in Österreich-Ungarn (Tübingen, 1909); E. Peschke, Die Theologie der Böhmischen Brüder in ihrer Frühzeit, I, 1–2 (Stuttgart, 1935–40).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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