Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Reformed Irenicism

The Irenic Chytraeus

chytraus    I mentioned some time ago that I would post something on why Chytraeus makes a nice irenic figure. To do that, I’m mostly just going to summarize and quote some of the material in his entry in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, vol 3. Georg Loesche notes in that article that Chytraeus (1531-1600) was a follower of Melanchthon (in whose house he lived for a time) and thus one of the “mediating theologians”–one who was “filled with love of peace” and “inclined to avoid conflicts.” (Loesche comments that he perhaps sometimes took this too far.)

Because of his moderation, he was often asked to assist in the arrangement of church life in such places as Austria and Styria, where he was a supporter of the “free exercise of religion.”

His work De morte et vita aeterna (1581) “gave occasion for a charge of crypto-Calvinism” (now that’s my kind of Lutheran!). Loesche goes on in his section on Chytraeus’ works: “the colorless Regulae vitae (1555), following the decalogue, were originally composed by Melanchthon. In treating of single doctrinal points a more Lutheran tendency is perceptible, consistent with his participation in the work of the Concordia; but Chytraeus found the forms of the true doctrines ‘mediocriter constituta’ in the Formula of Concord, and deplored the damnation of the excluded (Reformed) churches.”

Chytraeus long was the key figure teaching at the University of Rostock. Other works of his include De studio theologiae recte inchoando; Regulae studiorum; Praecepta rhetoricae inventionis; Onomasticon theologicum; De lectione historiarum recte instituenda; Historia der Augspurgischen Confession; Chronicon Saxoniae; there is also a collection of orations.

Finally, there is his Catechesis, which I have been translating, first published in 1555, which Loesche calls “a short, comprehensive, and able work, used for almost a century in universities, gymnasia, and public schools.”

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.