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Journal > Volumes > 39 (2008) / 3 (Autumn)
Multiconfessional Celebration of the Eucharist in Sixteenth-Century Wesel
Jesse A. Spohnholz
Washington State University

The fierce debates about the Eucharist during the Reformation era highlight a central tension between individuals’ desire to secure confessional purity and their instinct to protect the communal nature of Christian worship. Preserving confessional coexistence required balancing these forces, often by expelling nonconformists or driving them underground. Instead, civic leaders in sixteenth-century Wesel demanded that residents of all confessions attend communion together. This policy emerged as a result of leaders’ fear of unmanageable disorder in the face of waves of Calvinist immigrants, even as the town was still reeling from struggles between Lutherans and Catholics. In practice, this policy preserved the sacral communalism of the pre-Reformation church, while leaving individuals latitude to express confessional difference in informal but visible ways. 

Pages: 705 - 729