Can an orthodox Christian creed and ritual be combined with a liberal church administration and a tolerant civic acceptance of not-so-orthodox views and practices? This question-perennial among Catholics for the past two centuries and the goal of the Anglican quest for a via media-finds an affirmative answer in Zdenek V. David's history of the Utraquist church of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Bohemia. This church declared its autonomy from the Roman church in 1415 after the Bohemian preacher Jan Hus, who had decried clerical abuses and opposed the pope's doctrinal and juridical authority, was condemned by a Roman church council and executed. Sometimes called "Hussitist" (a usage David attacks for exaggerating Hus's role; "Utraquist" is the Latinized form of the Czech name it adherents used) this Bohemian church administered its institutions and educated and managed its clergy independently of Rome for the next two hundred years. David's book focuses on the middle course steered by the Utraquists after the onset of the Protestant Reformation.
It rejected core Protestant beliefs, such as salvation by faith alone, and practices, going so far in emphasizing apostolic succession as to have its new priests ordained by Latin-rite or, in a few cases, Eastern-rite Uniate bishops. At the same time, the Utraquists pursued their orthodoxy by disputation rather than hurling anathemas and lived alongside Lutherans, the Unity of Brethren, and others. Ultimately the Utraquist church was reabsorbed into Roman Catholicism and its special features repressed in the Counter-Reformation.
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(229mm x 152mm x 45mm)
Woodrow Wilson Center Press
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
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Author Biography - Zdenek V. David
Zdenek V. David was librarian of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars from 1974 to 2002. Educated as a historian (Ph.D. Harvard, 1960), he has published numerous articles on the history of Utraquism and on Jews in Czech historiography; he is coauthor of The Peoples of the Eastern Habsburg Lands, 1526-1918.