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Melanchthon's Commonplaces of Theology


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In 1521, during Luther’s captivity, Melancthon’s celebrated work, “On the Common-places of Theology,” had presented to Christian Europe a body of doctrine of solid foundation and admirable proportion. A simple and majestic unity appeared before the astonished eyes of the new generation. The translation of the Testament justified the Reformation to the people; Melancthon’s Common-places justified it in the opinion of the learned.

“If you desire to become theologians,” he  [Luther]would say, “read Melancthon.” According to Melancthon, a deep conviction of the wretched state to which man is reduced by sin is the foundation on which the edifice of Christian theology should be raised. This universal evil is the primary fact, the leading idea on which the science is based; it is the characteristic that distinguishes theology from those sciences whose only instrument is reason.

The publication of this body of theology was of inestimable value to the cause of truth. Calumnies were refuted; prejudices swept away. In the churches, palaces, and universities, Melancthon’s genius found admirers, who esteemed the graces of his character. Even those who knew not the author were attracted to his creed by his book. The roughness and occasional violence of Luther’s language had often repelled many. But here was a man who explained those mighty truths whose sudden explosion had shaken the world, with great elegance of style, exquisite taste, admirable perspicuity, and perfect order. The work was sought after and read with avidity, and studied with ardor. Such gentleness and moderation won all hearts. Such nobility and force commanded their respect; and the superior classes of society, hitherto undecided, were gained over by a wisdom, that made use of such beautiful language. 

On the other hand, the adversaries of truth, whom Luther’s terrible blows had not yet humbled, remained for a time silent and disconcerted at the appearance of Melancthon’s treatise. They saw that there was another man as worthy of their hatred as Luther himself. “Alas!” exclaimed they, “unhappy Germany! to what extremity wilt thou be brought by this new birth!”  Between the years 1521 and 1595 the Common-places passed through sixty-seven editions, without including translations. Next
to the Bible, this is the book that has possibly contributed most to the establishment of the evangelical doctrine.

Selected from D'Aubigne, History of the Reformation vol. 3, book 9, chapter 9


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14 hours ago, phkrause said:

I understand that Melancthon was very keen to the Sabbath?? Not sure how true this is??

Here's a link to a paper that discusses Melanchthon's Sabbath views:

The Lutheran Church and the Lord's Day by Charles Krauth [Journal Article] | Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

From what I can tell, I don't agree with Luther or Melanchthon on the Sabbath question.


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