Cultural Impact of the Reformation: Section III.9: Abstracts

Christine Kooi (Baton Rouge, USA)

A Minority among Minorities. Calvinists in the Dutch Republic

The wars of the religion produced one new state: the Dutch Republic. The religious settlement of this new state was essentially made from scratch: its rulers recognized the Reformed as the official church, but they allowed religious minorities to live there as well. Calvinism and multiconfessionalism, therefore, had to coexist within a new polity. The Calvinist ›winners‹ of the Dutch Reformation had to learn how to tolerate the continued presence of its ›losers‹ in a new society. This society, with its dynamic economy and vibrant discussion culture, meant that relations among different confessional groups were carefully managed by the country’s political and religious elites. The Republic’s identity was caught between the poles of dominant Calvinism and pervasive multiconfessionalism.


Lubina Mahling (Dresden, Germany)

The Reformation and the Sorbs. Literalization – Alphabetisation – Pluralisation

The Reformatory imperative of holding sermons in the native language led to a fundamental cultural change in the Sorbian community in Lusatia. Together with the education of Sorbian ministers, a Sorbian educational elite arose, and due to the translation of biblical and Reformatory writings, a Sorbian written language developed. At first, it was the rivalry between Catholics and Protestants which stimulated the development of a Sorbian literate culture. Later, in the 18th century, Pietism adopted this function. The latter’s contribution to alphabetisation and pluralisation within the Protestant Sorbs is outstanding.


Florian Tropp (Hamburg, Germany)

The Salzburger Emigrants as an Example of the Transnational Influence of Protestant Social Networks in the 18th Century

The Protestants’ expulsion from Salzburg between 1731 and 1735 was a spectacular echo of the Reformation. Over 20,000 people not willing to convert to Catholicism had to leave their homeland. They were sheltered in the Baltic states, in the Netherlands and even in Georgia.

The efforts of the emigrants’ supporters show the influence of a Protestant Internationale where belief counts more than origin. This contribution focuses on the question of the supporting groups’ interests and how they communicated among themselves. Based on modern paradigms, those considerations therefore ought to stimulate future research, because the scholarly literature has so far considered the stages of migration separately.


Rainer Kobe (Schutz, Germany)

Church Discipline as a Governmental Instrument. The Handling of the ›Rule of Christ‹ in the Community of the Hutterian Brethren

The Hutterian Brethren was a theocratic-guided Anabaptist community based on Protestant communism in living and economy. This contribution shows how they practised the anathema according to the ›Rule of Christ‹ (Mt 18:15-18) at their farms of Brethren in Moravia and Hungary for over 200 years (1550-1750) in the context of their political-legal precarious position.

Compared to the practice of anathema in other denominations and even other Anabaptist groups, it will be clarified that the Hutterian practice was not only responsible for the maintenance of the ecclesiastical/congregational order but also of the temporal order, and thus was part of the community’s ›government‹.


Andrea Strübind (Oldenburg, Germany)

The Discovery of the Individual. Perspectives of Independent Protestant Churches

The discovery of the individual, already important in Puritanism, is a core of independent protestant denominations. Its ecclesiological foundation is the so-called »Covenant« theology of Congregationalism, whereby the church constitutes itself by the association of individuals by choice. This means at the same time a radical renunciation of the concept of state-organized church and its territorially based structure. Relatedly, egalitarian structures were established aligned with the spiritual capacities of the particular members. Independent churches refused the »claim of exclusive representation« of a »socialised« form of church and thus gradually made contributions to the acceptance of a religious and institutional church pluralism in Germany and elsewhere.


Veronika Albrecht-Birkner (Siegen, Germany)

»In the End, Everything was Worthwhile«? Protestant Discussions Concerning the Socialist Idea of Man in the GDR

A crucial part of the SED (socialist unity party) state’s ideology was an idea of man oriented to productivity and wages in theory and practice, according to which the human being is what he achieves. This idea can be categorized as a quasi-religious vision of a (communist) future where the limitations of human life due to diseases, suffering and death would be overcome through human efforts. Christians were necessarily provoked concerning this claimed self-construction of the human being through individual effort since they decidedly referred to (the gift of) grace in faith as the foundation of human existence. This contribution will search for discussions of Protestant Christians in the GDR concerning the mentioned socialist idea of man in the horizon of the doctrine of justification.

Kulturelle Wirkungen der Reformation

7 to 11 August 2017

back to sections