Religions (May 2021)

The Bohemian Brethren and the Protestant Reformation

  • Craig Atwood

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 12, no. 5
p. 360


Read online

The smallest, but in some ways the most influential, church to emerge from the Hussite Reformation was the Unity of the Brethren founded by Gregory the Patriarch in 1457. The Unity was a voluntary church that separated entirely from the established churches, and chose its own priests, published the first Protestant hymnal and catechism, and operated several schools. Soon after Martin Luther broke with Rome, the Brethren established cordial relations with Wittenberg and introduced their irenic and ecumenical theology to the Protestant Reformation. Over time, they gravitated more toward the Reformed tradition, and influenced Martin Bucer’s views on confirmation, church discipline, and the Eucharist. In many ways, the pacifist Brethren offered a middle way between the Magisterial Reformation and the Radical Reformation. Study of the Brethren complicates and enhances our understanding of the Protestant Reformation and the rise of religious toleration in Europe.