Tilemann Heshusius

Last updated
Tilemann Heshusius
Tilemann Heshusius.jpg
Born3 November 1527
Died25 September 1588(1588-09-25) (aged 60)
Nationality German

Tilemann Heshusius (also Hesshus, Heßhusen, Hess Husen, Heshusen) (3 November 1527 in Wesel — 25 September 1588 in Helmstedt) was a Gnesio-Lutheran theologian and Protestant reformer.



Heshusius came from an influential family in Wesel. He was a student of Philipp Melanchthon at the University of Wittenberg and was consequently close to him. During the time of the Augsburg Interim, he lived in Oxford and Paris. In 1550 he took his master's degree and was received by the Senate of the philosophical faculty; he lectured on rhetoric and as well as theology. In 1553 he became Superintendent in Goslar and acquired his doctoral degree in Wittenberg on 19 May that year at the expense of the city. However, he soon came into conflict with Goslar and left in 1556 to take a post at the University of Rostock.

There too he became involved in a dispute over Sunday weddings and the participation of Protestants in Roman Catholic celebrations. After attempting to excommunicate two leading city officials, he was expelled from the town. Melanchthon was able to arrange his appointment as general superintendent of the church of the Electorate of the Palatinate in Heidelberg. In 1559 a controversy broke out in Heidelberg over the Lord's Supper between Heshusius and his deacon Wilhelm Klebitz. To restore peace, Elector Frederick released both clerics from their posts—a decision later approved by Melanchthon. He became involved in another controversy over the Lord’s Supper in Bremen, which did not redound to his glory, opposing Albert Hardenberg and Jacob Probst. Heshusius himself resigned and went from there to Magdeburg, where he received the pastorate at the Church of St. John in 1560 and the position of superintendent in 1561. But he would not refrain from publicly testifying against the Crypto-Calvinists, Synergists, and others, and he felt compelled to pronounce the ban on the city council. [1] After continuing to preach in spite of the prohibition he had received, the border warden and 30 to 40 armed citizens invaded and occupied his parsonage property at 3 a.m., with 500 armed citizens stationed at the gate, and he and his "very pregnant wife" were forcibly conducted out of the city on 21 October 1562. [2]

Even his hometown Wesel refused him asylum. Count Palatine Wolfgang of Pfalz-Zweibrücken took him in. After Wolfgang’s death, Heshusius went to Jena. There he advocated the theological position that obedience should be a defining mark of the church in addition to Word and Sacrament (the only two “marks” recognized by most Lutherans). For that reason he challenged Jacob Andreae, Victorinus Strigel, Matthias Flacius and all those who pursued the cause of Lutheran unity.

In 1573, when the Elector August of Saxony took over the administration of Saxe-Weimar after the death of Duke John William, nearly 100 pastors were forced to leave the territory. Heshusius and Johann Wigand went to Königsberg in East Prussia. There Heshusius became the Bishop of Samland in 1573, but when Wigand turned against him, he was dismissed from his post. Martin Chemnitz helped him secure an influential position on the theology faculty at the newly established University of Helmstedt. In 1578 his claims against Wigand were vindicated at the Herzberger Konvent.

Though he had earlier opposed the union efforts of Andreae, he was finally persuaded to sign the Formula of Concord, and every obstacle to its introduction in Brunswick seemed to be removed; but in comparing the printed copy with the written text, Hesshusius found a considerable number of deviations, and was not satisfied with the explanations of Chemnitz. Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, also opposed the Formula, so that it was not accepted in his country, and thus lost much of its general authority.

Tilemann's sons, Gottfried Heshusius (1554-1625) and Heinrich Heshusius (1556-1597) followed him into the ministry and became Lutheran pastors and superintendents in the German lands, generally allied with Gnesio-Lutheran causes and universities. [3]


Further reading

Related Research Articles

Erasmus Alberus was a German humanist, Lutheran reformer, and poet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Johann Gerhard</span> Lutheran theologian

Johannes Gerhard was a Lutheran church leader and Lutheran Scholastic theologian during the period of Orthodoxy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Heidelberg Catechism</span> Reformed confessional document

The Heidelberg Catechism (1563), one of the Three Forms of Unity, is a Protestant confessional document taking the form of a series of questions and answers, for use in teaching Calvinist Christian doctrine. It was published in 1563 in Heidelberg, Germany. Its original title translates to Catechism, or Christian Instruction, according to the Usages of the Churches and Schools of the Electoral Palatinate. Commissioned by the prince-elector of the Electoral Palatinate, it is sometimes referred to as the "Palatinate Catechism." It has been translated into many languages and is regarded as one of the most influential of the Reformed catechisms.

Crypto-Calvinism is a pejorative term describing a segment of those members of the Lutheran Church in Germany who were accused of secretly subscribing to Calvinist doctrine of the Eucharist in the decades immediately after the death of Martin Luther in 1546. It denotes what was seen as a hidden Calvinist belief, i.e., the doctrines of John Calvin, by members of the Lutheran Church. The term crypto-Calvinist in Lutheranism was preceded by terms Zwinglian and Sacramentarian. Also, Jansenism has been accused of crypto-Calvinism by Roman Catholics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">University of Helmstedt</span>

The University of Helmstedt, was a university in Helmstedt in the Duchy of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel that existed from 1576 until 1810.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Georg Calixtus</span> German Lutheran theologian (1586–1656)

Georg Calixtus, Kallisøn/Kallisön, or Callisen was a German Lutheran theologian who looked to reconcile all Christendom by removing all differences that he deemed "unimportant".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jakob Andreae</span> German Lutheran theologian and Protestant Reformer

Jakob Andreae was a significant German Lutheran theologian and Protestant Reformer involved in the drafting of major documents.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hermann Strack</span> German Protestant theologian and orientalist (1848-1922)

Hermann Leberecht Strack was a German Protestant theologian and orientalist; born in Berlin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Andreas Musculus</span>

Andreas Musculus was a German Lutheran theologian and Protestant reformer. The name Musculus is a Latinized form of Meusel.

The Philippists formed a party in early Lutheranism. Their opponents were called Gnesio-Lutherans.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Andreas Althamer</span> German humanist

Andreas Althamer was a German humanist and Lutheran reformer. He was born in Brenz. He studied at the universities of Leipzig and Tübingen. After completing his studies, he became a schoolteacher in Halle (Saale), Schwäbisch Hall and Reutlingen. In 1524, he was a priest in Schwäbisch Gmünd, where he tried to introduce the Reformation. He met with resistance from the Gmünder Council.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gnesio-Lutherans</span> Theological party in the Lutheran churches

Gnesio-Lutherans is a modern name for a theological party in the Lutheran churches, in opposition to the Philippists after the death of Martin Luther and before the Formula of Concord. In their own day they were called Flacians by their opponents and simply Lutherans by themselves. Later Flacian became to mean an adherent of Matthias Flacius' view of original sin, rejected by the Formula of Concord. In a broader meaning, the term Gnesio-Lutheran is associated mostly with the defence of the doctrine of Real Presence.

Viktorin (Victorinus) Strigel was a Philippist Lutheran theologian and Protestant reformer.

Lucas Maius was a German Protestant pastor who converted from Lutheranism to Calvinism, and playwright during the Protestant Reformation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pierre Boquin</span>

Pierre Boquin was a French Reformed Theologian who played a critical role in the Reformation of the Electoral Palatinate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Polykarp Leyser the Elder</span> Lutheran theologian

Polykarp (von) Leyser the Elder or Polykarp Leyser I was a Lutheran theologian, superintendent of Braunschweig, superintendent-general of the Saxon church-circle, professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg and chief court-preacher and consistorial-councillor of Saxony.

Paul Billerbeck was a Lutheran minister and scholar of Judaism, best known for his Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Midrash co-written with Hermann Strack.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Johann Wigand</span> German Lutheran cleric, Protestant reformer and theologian

Johann Wigand was a German Lutheran cleric, Protestant reformer and theologian. He served as Bishop of Pomesania.

Maximilian Mörlin was a Lutheran theologian, court preacher, Superintendent in Coburg, and Reformer.

Heinrich Heshusius was a prominent third-generation German Lutheran pastor, superintendent, and polemicist. He was the second son of Tilemann Heshusius and Hanna von Bert, two well-educated and influential German Lutherans from Wesel on the lower Rhine.


  1. Life of Tilemann Heshusius , translated by Nathaniel J. Biebert (Red Brick Parsonage, 2016).
  2. Johann Georg Leuckfeld, Historia Heshusiana oder Historische Nachricht von dem Leben, Bedienungen und Schrifften Tilemanni Heßhusii (Quedlinburg and Aschersleben, 1716), p. 33.
  3. Halvorson, Michael J. (2010). Heinrich Heshusius and confessional polemic in early Lutheran orthodoxy. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate. pp. 29–36. ISBN   9780754664703. OCLC   694147960.

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Jackson, Samuel Macauley, ed. (1914). New Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (third ed.). London and New York: Funk and Wagnalls.{{cite encyclopedia}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)

Tilemann Hesshus(en), Latinised: Tilemann Heshusius
Born: 3 November 1527 in Wesel Died: 25 September 1588 in Helmstedt
Titles in Lutheranism
Preceded by Bishop of Samland
Succeeded by
Johannes Wigand per pro
Bishop of Pomesania