CHAPTER VIII. RATIONALISM AND ITS EFFECTS
Violent controversies broke out among the Lutheran party in Germany on many other matters besides the Eucharist. One of the early followers of Luther named Agricola, afterwards a professor of Wittenberg (1539), in his efforts to emphasise the teaching of his master on good works proclaimed that the spirit of fear so characteristic of the Old Testament had given way to the mildness and love of the New, and that, therefore, Christians who had received justification were no longer under the obligations of the law. This is what was known as Antinomism, a form of error not unknown amongst the early Gnostics and amongst some of the heretical sects of the Middle Ages. Agricola was assailed violently by Luther (1538-40), fled to Berlin (1540), and returned at a later period to make his submission, but Luther refused all his attempts at reconciliation. Melanchthon, however, adopted a more friendly attitude. The controversy continued for years, and Antinomism of a much more exaggerated form spread into other countries, particularly into England, where Parliament was obliged to legislate against its supporters during the reign of Charles I.
Closely associated with the Antinomist controversy was another known as the Osiandrist, from the name of one of its principal participants, Andrew Osiander. The latter, a professor of Hebrew at Nurnberg, perceiving the dangerous results of Luther's teaching on good works sought to introduce some modifications that would obviate the danger involved in the latter's apparent contempt for good works. For this reason he condemned the general absolution that had been introduced to replace auricular confession, and insisted upon the elevation of the Host as a profession of belief in the doctrine of the Real Presence. Having become involved in a sharp dispute with his colleagues at Nurnberg he left the university, and accepted a professorship at Konigsberg in Prussia (1549), where he was supported by the ruler Duke Albert. In regard to Justification he taught that forgiveness of sin and satisfaction should not be confounded with Justification, that the latter is effected by the indwelling of God in the person of the justified, that though the human nature of Christ is a necessary condition for redemption it is by the divine nature that the indwelling of God in man is effected, and that on account of this indwelling the holiness of God is imputed to the creature. This teaching aroused considerable opposition. Osiander was denounced by Morlin and others as Anti-Christ. Duke Albert sought the views of leading theologians only to find that as they were divided themselves they could lay down no certain rules for his guidance. Osiander died in 1552, but the quarrel continued and for a time it seemed as if it would lead to rebellion. Finally the adversaries of Osiander triumphed, when they secured the insertion of their views in the Prussian Corpus Doctrinae (1567) and the execution of Funk the leading supporter of Osiandrism (1601). Another professor of Konigsberg at this period, Stancarus, maintained that Redemption is to be attributed to the human nature rather than to the divine nature of Christ, but he was expelled from the university, and denounced on all sides as a Nestorian.
On this question of good works a violent controversy broke out after the Leipzig Interim (1548). Luther had depreciated entirely the value of good works as a means to salvation. On this point, however, Melanchthon was willing to make considerable concessions to the Catholics, as indeed he did in 1535 and 1548, when he admitted that good works were necessary for acquiring eternal happiness. This view was supported warmly by Major, a professor at Wittenberg, who was denounced by Amsdorf as an opponent of Luther's doctrine of Justification (1551). Amsdorf, Flacius, and others maintained that good works were a hindrance rather than an aid to salvation, while Major clung tenaciously to the position that good works were meritorious. Majorism, as the new heresy was called, was denounced in the most violent terms because it involved a return to the doctrine of the Papists. Major was suspended from his office as preacher (1556) and was obliged to make a recantation (1558).
The Adiaphorist controversy broke out in connexion with the Leipzig Interim (1548). In this attempt at reconciliation Melanchthon was not unwilling to yield in many points to the Catholic representatives, and to agree that several of the doctrines and practices of the Church that had been assailed by Luther were at least indifferent and might be admitted. For this he was attacked by Matthias Flacius, surnamed Illyricus on account of the place of his birth, a professor of Hebrew at Wittenberg since 1544. The latter protested against the concessions made by Melanchthon, denounced as impious the union of Christ with Belial, and returned to Magdeburg, where he was joined by Amsdorf and others who supported his contention. He was driven from the city and at last died at Frankfurt in 1575.