chapter  Four
32 Pages

Mennonite Confessionalization and Beyond: Polemics and the Articulation of a Conformist Ideology

The innovation that Schilling and Reinhard have brought to debates is the following: they argue that there was a close connection between the formation of distinct Catholic, Lutheran and Calvinist confessional cultures, on the one hand, and state-building and modernization in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on the other. In Hamburg during the 1690s, the processes of Lutheran identity formation served to weaken more than strengthen the established political order. In other words, this example does not confirm the conventional expectations about the process of confessionalization. Because of an untimely conversion of a Mennonite family to Lutheranism, Mennonite leaders quickly became entangled in the polemics being exchanged by Lutheran preachers. The structural parallels between Lutheran and Mennonite defensive strategies are even stronger. While self-regulation and identity asserted amid polemics were key characteristics of Mennonite life in most early modern northern European territories, they were not exclusively Mennonite characteristics.