The sixteenth century was a time of fluctuating religious ideas in Europe. It began with Catholicism firmly rooted in the minds of most people, then experienced a major upset with the Reformation, started by Martin Luther. This Reformation gave birth to many different church bodies. Among these were the orthodox Lutherans. After the signing of the Augsburg Confession in 1530, it seemed that the Lutheran theologians were in agreement on the doctrines of Scripture. However, this was not to last. After the death of Luther in 1546, the unity of Lutheranism began to fall apart. This is the scene in which Jakob Andreae found himself in the mid- to late-sixteenth century.
Andreae was born on March 25, 1528 in Waiblingen in the dukedom of Wuerttemberg. It just so happened that when Andreae was ready to begin his education, Duke Ulrich began introducing evangelical reforms in the areas under his control. Thus Andreae was trained to be an Evangelical. Unfortunately, his father was a smith and was too poor to finance his son's education. The mayor of Wuerttemberg saw his plight, however, and recognized Andreae's talent, and so he obtained a ducal scholarship so that he might continue his education. In 1539 Andreae attended a preparatory school in Stuttgart, and two years later he entered the University of Tuebingen. He was only 13 years old! In 1545 he began his study of theology under the Tuebingen faculty. His time there was short, though, since Wuerttemberg needed pastors, and he was assigned after only one year of study, for which he was greatly criticized by his enemies.
Andreae's major goal throughout his life was to reunite the quarreling groups of Protestants under the flag of Lutheran orthodoxy. “The purpose of the restoration of unity, according to Andreae, was not just to affirm God’s will that the church be one, but also to confound the adversaries of the truth outside and also inside the Lutheran camp.”1 He began his efforts by trying to be gentle with those who did not agree with him on doctrine. This tactic was not well-received by the Gnesio-Lutherans, who believed that those who taught false doctrine should be condemned outright. Therefore Andreae was in a fix--either he dealt gently with the false teachers (John Calvin, just to name one) and angered others, or he dealt harshly with them and angered them.
A breaking point finally came with the meeting at Zerbst in 1570, organized in an attempt to establish unity. At this meeting Andreae argued for another confession to which the churches could subscribe. His reason for this was that groups were citing the Augsburg Confession against each other. After this meeting Andreae's method changed drastically, mostly due to the faculty at Wittenberg, who had long ago ceased to be orthodox. At the meeting, Andreae and the Wittenbergers seemed to be getting along and agreeing on doctrine, but later, when Andreae went to visit Wittenberg, the theologians argued with him concerning Christology and no longer supported his search for unity. Andreae responded in his report of the meeting by condemning specific people and their beliefs in the margins of the paper (so that it could not really be said that it was part of the body of text), which he had not done before.
Andreae wasn’t giving up on his goal for Lutheran unity though. His next step was writing his Six Sermons, where he included specific condemnations in the main body of the text. When some noted theologians read these (Martin Chemnitz and David Chytraeus, to name a couple), they came to the conclusion that unity could be reached on the basis of them. Thus Andreae composed his “Swabian Concord,” which used his Six Sermons as its foundation. Chytraeus and Chemnitz read and revised the document (Chemnitz gave it a thorough revision) and returned it as the “Swabian-Saxon Concord.” This, along with the “Maulbronn Formula” (composed by other theologians from Wuerttemberg), was the document used to write the “Torgic Book,” which was revised to the “Bergic Book” in the years 1576-1577. The “Bergic Book” became what we know as the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, which was finally published on June 25, 1580 (exactly 50 years after the Augsburg Confession had been presented to Charles V) and obtained the Lutheran unity for which Andreae had been searching so long.
- Kolb, Robert. Andreae and the Formula of Concord. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1977.
- Jungkuntz, Theodore R. Formulators of the Formula of Concord. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1977.
- 1. Robert Kolb, Andreae and the Formula of Concord (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1977), 50.