Varieties of Reformation

  • R. W. Scribner
  • C. Scott Dixon
Part of the Studies in European History book series (SEURH)


One of the least edifying features of the reform movement was the way in which many of its participants were stigmatised and condemned by their fellow ‘evangelical Christians’. From the end of the 1520s, an emergent ‘Protestant’ orthodoxy consistently denigrated many who held evangelical ideas with which they did not agree, labelling them as ‘fanatics’ (Schwärmer), as obstinate and malicious deviants who fomented unrest and disturbance (92). Modern historiography discusses these stigmatised groups under the heading of Anabaptists or Radicals, and although they are now accorded more attention than they were in the past (96, 101–3), they are still seen as somehow marginal to the development of the ‘mainstream’ Reformation. This is a measure of how far the confessional historiography produced by erastian churches has influenced views of the Reformation, obscuring the fact that there were many strands in the original evangelical movements. These strands will not be discussed here using the labels created by confessional historiography. It will be more fruitful to single out the issues on which the various tendencies began to diverge, in order to understand how different groups of reformers began to separate themselves from one another.


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Select Bibliography

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© R. W. Scribner 2003

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  • R. W. Scribner
  • C. Scott Dixon

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