History, Department of
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Martin Bucer has long been called "the father of evangelical confirmation" because of the ceremony he prescribed for the territory of Hesse in 1539. After being called to Hesse by Landgrave Philip to combat the spread of Anabaptism in his lands, Bucer drafted both the Ziegenhain disciplinary ordinance, which gave the rationale and general procedure for confirmation, and the Kassel church ordinance, which contained an agenda for the ceremony. Studies of Bucer's confirmation ceremony have frequently drawn attention to Anabaptist influence on the proposal, that influence coming from Anabaptists in both Strasbourg and Hesse.
This article explores the influence of Anabaptist teachings on the development of Bucer's ideas about confirmation. It summarizes the views of baptism prevalent within the various Anabaptist groups which formed in Strasbourg during the later 1520s and early 1530s and it focuses on their emphasis on the individual's surrender or commitment to Christ. Then it traces Bucer's use of this idea in the years leading up to the Hessian ordinances, particularly with regard to the idea's relationship to a public profession of faith. By following the development of Bucer's understanding of confirmation, I hope to shed light on the way the Strasbourg reformer tried to strengthen the magisterial church by adapting and modifying a tenet shared by many Anabaptists.
Published in Mennonite Quarterly Review 68 (1994), pp. 95-122. Published by Goshen College, the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and the Mennonite Historical Society. http://www.goshen.edu/mqr/
Used by permission.