Defining heterodoxy in Protestantism: between Churches and States (16th-18th

Conference, Lyon, 30th of
June-1st of July 2017.

Organisation: Yves Krumenacker (Lyon
3, LARHRA), Noémie Recous (Lyon 3, LARHRA)

Reformation was born from a protest against the practice of indulgences, which was
seen as evidence that the Church had drifted away from the Scriptures. It was
then necessary to get back to Christ’s teaching. However reformers soon got
divided about the Supper, predestination, inspiration in the Scriptures, etc. New
orthodoxies emerged from the development of confessions of faith and their
transmission to the populations, and from the ministers’ teaching delivered in
schools and colleges. The concurrent roles of both Churches and States in that
process have been emphasized by historians since the 1980s, through the concept
of confessionalization.

concept has since been questionned and criticized. It does not appear to be
working for the States in which several religions were being tolerated.  France under the Edict of Nantes was one of them,
along with the Dutch Republic and England after the Toleration Act of 1689. While
the State could punish what had been defined as heterodox by the Church in a
mono-confessional system –even if conflicts might still arise- it could not do
so when several confessions were allowed, at least theoretically. Each Church then
had to punish its own dissenters without assistance from / resorting to
temporal power. The link between Churches and States in imposing religious
normalization must be analysed on a case-by-case basis, according to each state
and chronology.

rise of new authorities of knowledge, pretending to produce new discourses of
truth on the world and presenting themselves as rivals or opponents to theology
universities, makes the problem even more complex. The new medical knowledge
intended to stand as judge of miracles and possessions. Cartesian and
mechanical philosophies tended to reduce the place of God in the world and the
new astronomical theories transformed the Christian representation of the
Universe. These new ideas were condemned as heterodox by most theologians.
However, did States follow them in condemning these ideas? For instance, was a
Lutheran State allowed not to punish what had been claimed heterodox by
Lutheran universities of theology? If States could identify atheism and
religious enthusiasm as threats, did they condemn them on the grounds of
heterodoxy or for being threats to the public order?

problem of defining heterodoxy could also rise within the Churches. Since the Catholic
Church was centralised and had bodies in charge of the dogma definition, it
could provide a clear definition of what orthodoxy was, and consequently what
had to be considered heterodox. However, the Protestant Churches did not have
the same organisation and could even be divided within a same confession. The
conflicts between Philippists and Gnesio-Lutherans in the Holy Roman Empire are
one example of that case. Who then had the legitimate authority to define
orthodoxy? In some cases, the bodies intrusted with that mission would no
longer meet. In France, national synods stopped meeting after 1659. Based on
this situation, who could legitimately claim that some thoughts or acts were
heterodox? Some theologians didn’t mind considering themselves as able to
decide – Jurieu’s anathema and the consequences on some ministers and
philosophers are but one example of this attitude at the end of the 17th
century and the beginning of the 18th.

other words, this conference’s purpose is to question both religious authority
and the link between Church and State in several European countries. We will
also deal with the definitions of orthodoxy and heterodoxy, the criteria used
in that matter, as well as the application of Churches’ recommendations by States.

conference will be held in both French and English.

proposals can be sent until 31 December 2016, to

Committee: Hubert Bost (EPHE), Willem Frijhoff (Rotterdam), Charles
Giry-Deloison (Arras), Mark Greengrass (Sheffield), Yves Krumenacker (Lyon 3),
Susanne Lachenicht (Bayreuth), Raymond Mentzer (Iowa University), Cristina
Pitassi (Genève), Noémie Recous (Lyon 3), Joke Spaans (Utrecht)