Catholic Dictionary




Systematic exposition of the original principles of the Protestant Reformation. The Father of Reformation theology was Philip Milanchthon (1497-1560), professor of Greek at Wittenberg and author of two basic compendia of Reformation belief: the Confession of Augsburg and the Apology for the Confession, both compromise documents that differed from Luther and Calvin in many points and paved the way for a speculative theology. Melanchthon made important concessions on the doctrine for free will and unconditional predestination, on the power of reason to reflect on matters of faith, and on tradition as found in the Churches of Rome and the East. These concessions were more or less reconciled with the opposition in the Formula of Concord (1577), the last of the classical Lutheran formulas of faith, drawn up by a number of theologians, including Jakob Andrae (1528-90) and Nikolaus Selnecker (1530-92).

The latter part of the sixteenth century and most of the seventeenth were the period of Protestant scholasticism, using the Institutes of Calvin and the Formula of Concord as the base of operation. Except for an essential difference in content, the method was not unlike that of the medieval Schoolmen. Typical of the doctrines treated was the infallibility of the Bible, to which the same kind of intrinsic efficacy was attached as Catholics attached to the sacraments. Classic Protestant dogmatic theology has remained substantially unchanged to this day.