Martin Chemnitz

1522-1586. Lutheran theologian. Born of a poor family in Treuenbrietzen, he studied at the Trivialschule, Wittenberg, Magdeburg, the University of Frankfurt on the Oder, and at the University of Wittenberg (1545) where he formed a lasting friendship with Melanchthon.* At this time he was interested chiefly in mathematics and astrology. After he was driven out of Wittenberg because of the Smalcaldic War, he came to Königsberg in Prussia, where he was made rector of the Kneiphof School, and received his master's degree from the new university. In 1550 he became librarian at the ducal castle library in Königsberg, primarily because of his reputation as an astrologer. Influenced by Sabinus, Melanchthon's son-in-law, he seriously applied himself to the study of theology. In 1553 he came again to Wittenberg, where he was made a member of the philosophical faculty. After a year and a half he went to Brunswick, where he was made coadjutor of Joachim Mörlin and later (1567) superintendent. He was one of the founders of the University of Helmstedt and was active as a practical churchman in Brunswick, both in city and province, highly regarded by the city council and Duke Julius. He set up a church order and a corpus or forma doctrinae, consisting of the Scriptures, the Apostolic, Nicene, and Athanasian creeds, the Augsburg Confession, the Apology, the catechisms of Luther, the Smalcald Articles,* and other writings of Luther. Duke William of Lüneburg asked him to draw up the Corpus Wilhelminum.

One of the most important theological treatises written by Chemnitz is his Examen Concilii Tridentini in four volumes. It has been called “a detailed study of the Council of Trent, illuminated by the Author's penetrating Biblical theology and a profound knowledge of the history of the Christian church and its teachings.” His De Duabus Naturis in Christo is an extensive analysis of Christology. His Loci Theologici was published after his death. He worked successfully with James Andreae* to mitigate the doctrinal controversies among German Lutherans between about 1550 and 1575. He was one of the co- authors of the Formula of Concord* in 1577. Theologically he took a position between the Gnesio-Lutherans and the Philipists. Biblical, temperate, scholarly, it has been said of him, “If Martin had not come, Martin would hardly have stood,” i.e., referring to Chemnitz and Luther respectively.