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Debating the SacramentsPrint and Authority in the Early Reformation$
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Amy Nelson Burnett

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190921187

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190921187.001.0001

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Karlstadt’s Challenge to Luther

Karlstadt’s Challenge to Luther

(p.77) 4 Karlstadt’s Challenge to Luther
Debating the Sacraments

Amy Nelson Burnett

Oxford University Press

The Zwickau prophets initiated a debate about infant baptism in Wittenberg that was the starting point for Andreas Karlstadt’s rejection of Luther’s sacramental theology. Karlstadt adopted an Augustinian and Erasmian dualism that separated internal/spiritual from external/material things and so reduced the spiritual value of external acts. Karlstadt was an independent thinker, but his exegesis of scripture more often followed Erasmus than Luther. He also advocated postponing baptism until children could understand their faith, and he rejected Christ’s bodily presence in the bread and wine. Publication of his Eucharistic pamphlets in the fall of 1524 provoked a strong response from Luther and his supporters that reinforced Luther’s understanding of the sacraments and discredited Karlstadt.

Keywords:   Andreas Karlstadt, infant baptism, Eucharist, Lord’s Supper, pamphlet, Martin Luther, exegesis

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