On Luther’s death, Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560) took over the theological leadership of the movement he had begun. Melanchthon taught Greek, first in Tubingen, then at the University of Wittenberg. There in 1518 he met Luther, changing Melanchthon from a humanist into a theologian and reformer. Gifted for logical consistency and wide knowledge of history, Melanchthon’s influence on Protestantism was in certain ways even greater than Luther’s.
Melanchthon publicly supported Luther at the Leipzig Disputation (1519). When Luther was away from Wittenberg, Philip represented and defended him. In 1521, he wrote the Commonplaces (Loci Communes), the first book which described the teachings of the Reformation. He also contributed to Luther’s German translation of the Bible.
At Marbur (1529) Melanchthon opposed Zwingli. He claimed that the service of holy communion was more than a memorial. Melancththon was responsible for the Augsburg Confession (1530), which remains the chief statement of faith in the Lutheran churches.
Melanchthon, however, often seemed too prepared to concede matters of doctrine to the Roman Catholics for the sake of peace. He believed that reunion was essential. The theological struggles in his own camp with other Lutherans deeply troubled him. Melanchthon remained the only Protestant theologian of his day to represent the views of the people at large.
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