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Word and Spirit in the Confessions of the European Reformation

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Protestant spirituality is characterized by the mutual relationship between Word and Spirit. The doctrinal formulations of this relationship in the confessions of the Reformation period show that this specific feature of Protestant spirituality originated from the opposition to Rome and the Radical Reformation. The objections by Protestants against the mediaeval view that grace was infused through the sacraments led them to emphasize that faith was worked by the Spirit, in the heart. On the other hand, their objections against spiritualizing tendencies in the Radical Reformation led them to emphasize that faith was a matter of trust, based on the external Word. This two-sided tension led to a nuanced view of the relationship between the external Word of God and the internal work of the Spirit. In Lutheran and Reformed theologies this led to different spiritualities. The author traces these developments by analysing several Protestant confessions of the Reformation period.

Affiliations: 1: University of Groningen


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