CALIXTUS, GEORG: The most influential continuator of Melanchthon's theology in the seventeenth century, spokesman of the so-called "syncretism" in Germany at that time; b. at Medelbye (in the district of Tondern, 115 m. n.n.w. of Hamburg), Schleswig, Dec. 14, 1586; d. at Helmstädt, Brunswick, March 19, 1656. His father, pastor at Medelbye, a pupil of Melanchthon, wished to have his son educated in the same way, and after due preparation sent him to the university at Helmstädt, where like-minded friends of Melanchthon, eg., the humanist Caselius, were still in office. From 1603 to 1607 he studied philology and philosophy, then theology, paying especial attention to the study of early patristics. From 1609 to 1613 he traveled in Germany, Belgium England, and France, enlarging his ideas, and becoming acquainted with the conditions of the Reformed and Roman Catholic churches, comparing them with those of the Lutheran Church to which he belonged. Thus he developed an irenic tendency which he retained all his life. He was appointed in 1614 professor of theology at Helmstädt, and remained there until his death. A memorial tablet on his house in the little city in the duchy of Brunswick commemorates the activity of this enlightened mind. His life fell in the age of the Counterreformation and the Thirty Years' War, when the hatred of the confessions toward each other had reached its height. The main effort of this irenic theologian was inspired by the ides that theology must have for its prime object not so much pure doctrine as Christian life. Thus he became the creator of theological ethics as a special theological discipline, and therein undoubtedly marks an epoch in the progress of theology; most moral philosophers still follow him in this formal principle. But the danger was thereby incurred of detaching ethics from dogmatics and building the former without the necessary religious foundation. In the second place he endeavored to bring about a union of all Christian churches, taking the Apostles' Creed and the consensus of the first five centuries as a dogmatically and ecclesiastically sufficient norm. He aspired to a union of all Christian confessions. For this reason he took part in the Conference of Thorn (see THORN, CONFERENCE OF)


in 1645, where, however, he found that the Lutherans would not work with him, since they felt justifiably that from his point of view the Reformation lost its essential importance: a religious indifferentism would be the obvious sequence, and it is certainly no accident that during the seventeenth century many princes and princesses left the Lutheran Church and joined the Roman Catholic (John Frederick of Hanover, Christine of Sweden, the daughter of Gustavus Adolphus, and some others). On the other hand the orthodox, not altogether from combativeness, endeavored to maintain the religious content of the Reformation; this is their merit against all syncretism. Finally Calixtus made himself a name in scientific dogmatics by introducing the analytical method. After his death the syncretistic controversies continued till they lost their interest through the Pietistic movement. Among his numerous writings those of most interest are his academical orations Orationes selectœ (Hehmstädt, 1660); his influential exegetical writings, Expositiones and Lucubrationtes on New and Old Testament books; and, of his irenic writings, the Judicium de controversiis theologicis quœ inter Lutheranos et Reformatos agitantur, et de mutua partium fraternitate atque tolerantia propter consensum in fundamentis (1650). His son and successor, Friedrich Ulrich Calixtus (b. 1622; d. 1701), tried to continue the work of his father, but met with no approval among the Lutherans. They rather tried to supplant syncretism in the Lutheran Church by a new orthodox confession, Consensus repetitus fidei vere Lutheranœ. But this confession, which would have turned the Church into an orthodox school, was nowhere officially accepted. The syncretistic controversy remained for a long time of such importance that no interest was felt in the Pietistic principles which soon sprang up. This can be understood only from the course of the syncretistic controversies. See SYNCRETISM.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Account should be taken of Calixtus's Briefwechsel, ed. E. L. T. Henke, Halle, 1883, cf. issues of Jena, 1833, Marburg, 1840. Consult: W. Gass, G. Calixt und der Synkretismus, Breslau, 1846; E. L. T. Henke, G. Calixtus und seine Zeit, 2 vols., Halle, 1853-1856; W. C. Dowding, German Theology during the Thirty Years' War; Life and Correspondence of G. Calixtus, London, 1863; H. Friedrich, Georg Calixtus, der Unionsmann des 17. Jahrhunderts, Anklam, 1891; ADB, iii. 696 sqq.


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