Bugenhagen expands reforms north

Group 236


“Martin Luther did not reform the church by himself,” notes one source.  An obvious example is Philipp Melanchthon, who helped Luther shape his theological ideas into their final form.

Less known is Johannes Bugenhagen (1485–1558), sometimes called “The Second Apostle of the North,” for expanding the Lutheran reforms beyond Germany. He had initially rejected but then enthusiastically endorsed Luther’s reform agenda, moved to Wittenberg in 1523 and a decade later earned his Doctorate of Theology at the University. Originally from Pomerania, Bugenhagen later influenced Denmark’s Christian III—who had witnessed Luther’s stand at the Diet of Worms—to formally convert and more importantly to change in 1537 the Danish-Norwegian state church to Lutheranism. Bugenhagen also played a similar role in transforming the state churches in Hildesheim, Hamburg, Lubeck, Pomerania, East Frisia, Schleswig-Holstein, Braunschweig and Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel.

Luther had a dramatic impact on Bugenhagen. In the years that followed, that led to the broader religious, social and political changes that swept through Northern Europe and Scandinavia.