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Schwenckfeld’s “Third Way” - 1526

Kaspar Schwenckfeld.


Kaspar Schwenckfeld was a reformer in Silesia (at that time part of Germany). He had been deeply influenced by Luther and the two met often. However, Schwenckfeld was distressed by the lack of holiness exhibited in the lives of most Christians whether Catholic, Lutheran, or Reformed. He concluded that the Word and sacraments had to be perceived and received spiritually to be effectual. He developed a “third way” that spoke of “celestial flesh” insisting that Christ must become a spiritual presence in a believer’s life, transforming it. (You can read more details of his beliefs in Christian History 21) He became convinced that the Lord’s Supper was more than a mere memorial as Zwingli taught. On the other hand, he considered the way it was practiced by Catholics and Lutherans as potentially idolatrous. With his friend Crautwald and other pastors and preachers of Liegnitz he issued a letter on this day, April 21, 1526, suspending celebration of the Lord’s Supper, an action that became known as the Stillstand.


“The fact of the matter is this: Since we and many others, including some of the populace, have felt and recognized that little betterment is resulting as yet from the preaching of the Gospel, something must be wrong. And what could be more wrong than the improper celebration of the central Christian rite? [Since this is the case,] we think that the Holy Sacrament or mystery of the body and blood of Christ has not been observed according to the Gospel and command of Christ. Those who eat and drink unworthily, eat and drink judgment unto themselves, and therefore, we admonish men in this critical time to suspend for a time the observance of the highly venerable Sacrament.”


Nosotro, Rit. “Schwenckfeld, Kaspar 1489–1561 Protestant reformer who Luther opposed”; and  Christian History 21.

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