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Journal > Volumes > 39 (2008) / 4 (Winter)
“I can indeed respond”: Lay Confessions of Faith in Late Sixteenth-Century Central Germany
Robert J. Christman
Luther College, Decorah Iowa

During the Flacian controversy over the definition of original sin (1560s–70s), a doctrinal debate took place that proved to be foundational for Lutheran theology: a number of the laity from the central German territory of Mansfeld wrote confessions in which they articulated their views on the matter. The mere existence of these statements from the likes of counts, city officials, artisans, and laborers raises the question of lay participation in the doctrinal controversies of the latter sixteenth century, a question rarely asked by historians. Moreover, an examination of why these people wrote their confessions reveals a desire to engage in questions of doctrine during this period of the late Reformation, while an analysis of their writings demonstrates a surprisingly complex understanding of the controversy. 

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