Academic journal article Mennonite Quarterly Review

History of the Polish Reformation

Academic journal article Mennonite Quarterly Review

History of the Polish Reformation

Article excerpt

History of the Polish Reformation. by Stanislas Lubieniecki. Translated and interpreted by George H. Williams. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press. 1995. Pp. 993. 68 plates & maps. $110.

Because of its arcane subject matter and also its price, few individual scholars will be able to buy the present book: a translation and interpretation of Lubieniecki's Historia, accompanied by nine major documents and many selected illustrations. This is a pity, although understandable, because even histories of the Reformation usually ignore the story of Poland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It comes as a shock to be reminded that at one time Poland was the largest country in Europe; the majority of its populace was Protestant; and a major portion of that Protestantism was Anabaptist and/or Unitarian.

Religious and political leaders came to Poland from all over Europe, as transients or settlers, and the leaders of the religious movements in Poland during the golden decades were in constant communication with Wittenberg, Geneva, Strassburg, Amsterdam and the other great centers of renewal and reformation. At high tide the country was blessed with a tolerant state, and a pluralistic society whose members apparently believed that differences could and should be resolved by writing, dialogue and frequent public disputation. That story came to an end with the Counter-Reformation.

Lubieniecki was an ecclesiastical primitivist; that is, he believed the faith and life of the early church to be normative for later Christians. …

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