I spent much of last year studying the Reformation.
I’m currently studying the period between the Peace of Augsburg and the Enlightenment and exploring how Lutheranism continued to evolve in Northern Europe in the late 16th, 17th and early 18th centuries. This period is roughly bounded by Luther’s death and Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Schleiermacher which begin the modern era within Lutheranism.
It consists of three stages: the creation of a doctrinal consensus within Lutheranism by Luther’s successors that became the Lutheran Confessions, the Age of Orthodoxy which lasted from 1580 until the Enlightenment during which Lutheranism was the basis of the social order in Northern Europe and the Pietist movement within the church after the Thirty Years’ War which sparked the broader age of evangelicalism within Protestantism in the Anglo world.
Why is this so fascinating? It interests me because during this period liberalism is not yet the basis of the social order in Northern Europe as it is today. Each Lutheran territory is governed by a prince or a king. Lutheranism is the official state religion. The church and state are integrated. There is a homogeneous culture although toward the end of this period Calvinism becomes tolerated by the Hohenzollerns in Prussia. French Huguenot refugees settled in Brandenberg after the Edict of Nantes was revoked by Louis XIV in France. Simply put, it was very different from the Anglo world where the conflict between Anglicanism and Calvinism culminated in the English Civil War and the growth of liberalism and latitudinarianism that followed.
There was a major difference between the Prussia of Frederick I and the Britain of Queen Anne around the turn of the 18th century. Liberalism was beginning to germinate in England and the Netherlands around this time. We can watch these ideas grow and radiate outward in a series of stages: 1675 to 1700, 1700 to 1725, 1725 to 1750 and 1750 to 1775. It starts out almost nonexistent in the Lutheran world and by the end of this period it has become fashionable in France and the German world. Kant in Königsberg in East Prussia was the most influential Enlightenment philosopher. He was raised and educated as a Pietist though.
This period between the Reformation and the Enlightenment is the soil in which liberalism sprouted. I want to have a better understanding of it. Lutheranism went from essentially being a state religion that organized life in absolutist states in Northern Europe and where over the course of nearly two centuries there was almost zero missionary activity into what is today where transgender Latinas are being ordained as Lutheran pastors.
Note: I don’t expect this will be of much interest to most readers. I am very interested though in tracing the growth of liberalism and particularly the impact it had on Lutheranism. This is a pet project of mine.