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Synergistic Controversy.

In the 2d ed. of his Loci (1535), P. Melanchthon* taught 3 cooperating causes in conversion: (1) God's Word; (2) the Holy Spirit; (3) man's will not resisting God's Word. Like D. Erasmus,* he ascribed to man the ability to apply himself to grace. This synergistic view found expression in the Leipzig Interim* 1548. But controversy did not arise till J. Pfeffinger* formulated Melanchthonian theses on free* will 1555. J. Stoltz* countered with 110 theses 1556 and was supported by N. v. Amsdorf* and M. Flacius* Illyricus. V. Strigel* was imprisoned 1569 for opposing the 1568–69 Konfutationsbuch.* Synergism was debated at Weimar August 2–8, 1560 (see also Weimar, Colloquies and Conventions of); Strigel held that the unconverted had latent power to cooperate in conversion; Flacius opposed Strigel and was supported by all true Luths. and by the Philippists* of Wittenberg.

The Konfutationsbuch was now enforced so rigorously, esp. by J. Wigand* and M. Judex,* that John* Frederick II countered July 8, 1561, by depriving ministers of the right to excommunicate and vesting this power in a consistory est. at Weimar. Flacius and his adherents protested against this measure in the name of freedom of conscience and of the ch., where only Christ and His Word are to decide. Flacius, Wigand, Judex, and J. Musäus* were suspended and expelled from Jena December 10, 1561. Strigel was reinstated at Jena May 24, 1562, after signing an ambiguous declaration. J. Stössel* drew up a declaration intending to explain Strigel's declaration in an acceptable way, but only made matters worse; Strigel refused to sign it and 40 Thuringian pastors who refused to sign both Strigel's and Stössel's declarations were deposed and exiled.

Johann Wilhelm (d. 1573) succeeded John Frederick II 1567 and issued an edict January 16, 1568, supporting Luth. orthodoxy; the Philippists left Jena; Flacians (except Flacius) returned. The 1568–69 Altenburg* Colloquy reached unsuccessfully for final solution, which came 1571 in the Final Report and Declaration of the Theologians of Both Universities Leipzig and Wittenberg; it includes this: “Consideration and reception of God's Word and voluntary beginning of obedience in the heart arises out of that which God has begun graciously to work in us.” Difference of terminology in explanation persisted. FC I and II reject the extremes of Strigel and Flacius and teach that man is purely passive in his conversion but cooperates with God after conversion.

See also Synergism.

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

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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