Story of the Reformer: Philip Melanchthon

October 27, 2017

 

1497-1560

 

The great reformers did not cause the spiritual revolution on their own. Each of them were supported and helped by other brave reformers who risked their life and reputation for the sake of the Gospel. While Martin Luther was the volatile preacher who caused German Reformation, Philip Melanchthon was it's steadying force.

 

Philip was born in 1497 in Bretten, Germany. At and early age he showed potential to be a great scholar, he was sent to study at the universities of Heidelberg and Tübingen. There he studied humanism, Philosophy and Theology. After finishing his university studies, he accepted an invitation to become the professor of Greek at the university of Wittenberg. In Wittenberg he met Luther and, impressed by Luther's teaching, Philip soon joined him and the fight for church reform.

 

As Luther's right hand, Philip traveled Leipzig Disputation, where he joined Martin as he debated and defended the truth he found in scripture. After the disputation, Luther encouraged Melanchthon to lectured on Romans and in 1521 he published the Loci communes, the first systematic theology of the reformation.

 

Melanchthan's role in the reformation was to bring cohesion. As Luther roared about the errors of the church, Melachthon would bring organization to Luther's thoughts. He was the systematic thinker that Luther needed in his corner.  He continued to pen documents that helped move the reformation forward including, the Augsburg Confession (1530),  Apology of the Augsburg Confession  (1531), and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope(1537). 

 

Melachthan's legacy, while tied to Luther's, took a turn of its own as he was forced to lead the movement. Melanchthan served as the intellectual leader of the Lutheran movement after Luther's death. He was criticized by Protestant peers for compromising with the Roman Catholic church during a time of distress for the protestant cause. He signed an agreement that joined Reformation theology to Catholic theology called the Augsburg Interim. In this document, fighting for salvation by faith alone, Melanchthan compromised only on doctrines that he thought were none essential to salvation. 

 

 

 

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