Author(s)Christine Christ-von Wedel
KeywordsEinheit der Kirche
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AbstractThis paper concerns Erasmus’ role in the increased confessionalisation of the 16th century. It discusses Erasmus’ struggle to remain neutral in the Reformation debate and highlights the impact of his historical approach on the confessional debate. In 1520, Erasmus argued epistemologically by suggesting that because scholars’ verdicts on Luther differed they were unconvincing. In 1524 he turned his epistemological argument against Luther by introducing skepticism into the Christian discourse. Again, in 1529 he used his historical approach to argue against what he perceived as being a main concern of the Reformer’s, namely reinstating the early apostolic church. By emphasizing that the Apostles also quarreled amongst themselves and that, for better or for worse, time changes all things he was able to avoid demonizing the traditionalism as the Reformers did or to overvaluing it as did their Roman Catholic counterparts in his view. Thus by 1533 he could safely offer forward-looking advice in favour of restoring a unified church. The impact of his suggestions, which influenced the colloquy of Regensburg, was still felt in the ecumenical movement of the 20th century.