Ellen A. Macek
Drawing from personal experience or the preparation of aspiring pastors, some English authors sought to refine clerical job descriptions during the first century of religious reform. Although clerical advice manuals consistently demanded a morally upright life and suitable academic training, the pastor's ongoing spiritual formation assumed more importance. Handbooks written by authors as diverse as the "Puritan" Richard Bernard, the "establishment" pastor George Herbert, and the "papist" George Gilbert also outlined the use of several novel methods to deal with individuals who failed to respond to more traditional means of preaching and provision of the sacraments. A close reading of such manuals provides a window on competing visions of English clerical life before 1660.
Ever since its foundation in 1584, the Herborn Academy pursued the ambitious goal of stabilizing and politically modernizing not only the regions within its own domain but also Reformed territories throughout Europe through the education of an elite class of social leaders. For this reason, Herborner conceptions of educational reform emphasized as a necessity the formation of an educated elite for the Reformed churches and European governments as a whole. Thcrefore the Academy's central political task was to train, according to so-called Ramist principles, an elite leadership for those societies in Europe that had been stamped by Reformed ideals. The practical orientation of the education aimed to prepare graduates to assume positions of leadership in and successfully weather the confessional disputes throughout Europe.
Collegiantism arose in Dutch Remonstrant circles after the Synod of Dordt outlawed the Remonstrants (1619) and their leaders had been sent into exile. It offered a "church" for all, "run" by laymen without a clergy and hailed the freedom to "prophesy." Collegiantism was intended, paradoxically, to give concrete form to a "non-church," an "invisible church" of all "unpartisan" believers, one that brought believers together without binding them or passing judgment. The structural roots of Collegiantism lead to Sebastian Franck's anti-sacerdotalism and his definition of the true church as a "free, non-sectarian, party-less Christianity"; to Sebastian Castellio's rationalism, his deconstruction of the notion of heresy, and his dogmatic minimalism; to Jacob Acontius's advocacy of free prophecy in church for congregants and his insistence that possession of a monopoly of truth renders a church spiritually lazy; and to Dirck Coornhert. The latter's championship of free investigation, ideas on fairness and struggle against the ruling orthodoxy, and especially his draft for a non-partisan church, all came to fruition in the early Collegiants, who thus crafted a "confessional identity" that was not dogmatically defined but that would fill itself, due to its very nature, with radical content.
Gary W. Jenkins
This essay treats how English Roman Catholics, deprived of place and standing in their native church, addressed the two essential elements underlying the Protestant political economy of the Elizabethan Settlement. After a brief précis of how other studies have looked at political thought, the Protestant axioms of a lay supremacy and a unilateral national prerogative in the government of the church shall be delineated. The two main sections shall then treat the Catholic critique of the English national church and its lay supremacy respectively. The conclusion shall address the dilemma of conscience that these principles inflicted on Roman Catholics in Elizabethan England. Having been both summarily deprived of ecclesiastical standing and alienated from their native polity by their refusal to acknowledge the demands of the Elizabethan Settlement, England's Catholics found themselves justifying their actions and assailing the new ecclesio-political arrangements. Specifically the Recusants took aim at the notion of the laity exercising authority over the church whether from the throne or in parliament, and at the concept that England apart from the rest of the Church at all times and in all places could order its rites, liturgies, sacraments, and creed. This second item became more pronounced in that the Oath of Supremacy specifically mentioned the renunciation of all bishops unless they were English. For the Recusants these two elements created an insurmountable barrier for any sincere Catholic conscience.
Kathleen M. Comerford
Councils and bishops in late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Tuscan dioceses emphasized vocation and the cura animarurn in their efforts to reform the parish clergy after the Council of Trent. The desired criteria for pastoral behavior were relatively simple, yet in many instances conformity was elusive. While synods and visitations clearly articulate a vision of professionalism, and even state penalties for failures to achieve that vision, most parishes display instead a continuation of prior practices in several important areas, including very low levels of conformity with Tridentine and post-Tridentine reglations concerning education of priests and availability of up-to-date service books. Since the penalties were relatively small, and often did not produce any change, historians may conclude that seventeenth-century priests were not able to achieve the level of professionalization desired of them.
Robert J. Christman
In the decades following Luther's death, adherents of the Wittenberg Reformation fought amongst themselves over how to define the reformer's theology. Often such struggles pitted Philippists against Gnesio-Lutherans, but sometimes the controversies took place within these groups themselves. The following article examines the Flacian controversy over original sin as it split the Gnesio-Lutheran pastorate of the central German county of Mansfeld. Rather than focusing on the content of the debate, this study analyzes the two distinct approaches to the laity taken by the pastors on each side of the divide. One side endeavored to present the doctrinal complexities of the disagreement to the parishioners; the other attempted to shield the laity from the intricacies of the dispute. It was, therefore, not only a theological disagreement that divided the pastors, but two distinct and competing visions of ecclesiology and the role of the laity in the church.
Until recently, studies on French pastoralism have overlooked the existence of a political ideology within late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century sermon literature. And yet it appears that court preachers were co-opted by the Bourbon monarchy to assist in the pacification of the nobility and radical elements of both Catholic and Protestant confessions. This essay examines the sermon literature of the French saint, François de Sales, 1567-1622, in order to demonstrate that de Sales's sermon literature consciously supported the crown's pacification agenda. It is further argued that this political ideology in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sermon literature shaped the relations between court preachers such as de Sales and the Huguenot factions in the aftermath of the Edict of Nantes. With the emphasis on pacifying rebellious elements in the realm, the rhetoric in the sermon literature exhibited a sense of toleration of the existing Huguenot faction that had been absent in the sermon literature of the mid sixteenth-century.