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Historical Review of Andreas Rudolph Bodenstein von Karlstadt

Chukwuemeka Chinedu is an ongoing Student Pastor at Nigeria Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomosho, with BSc in Economics, HR, and CIPM


Andreas Rudolph Bodenstein von Karlstadt

One of the protestant reformation heroes, a reformer of unflinching focus with astute guiding principles, a great reformer and general of God, known as Andreas Rudolph Bodenstein von Karlstadt; born in 1486, and lived till December 24 1541. He was named Andreas Karlstadt and sometimes regarded Andreas Carlstadt or Karlstadt, better called Andreas Bodenstein. He was a theologian protestant. As a German, he received tutoring at the University of Wittenberg. A chancellor of the University of Wittenberg was one of the reformers and prospects during the generation of Martin Luther and the early reformation.

He was also a close colleague of Martin Luther and was one of the first competent reformers of the protestant reformation during his time. However, after king Frederick III, Elector of Saxony, hid and safeguarded Luther at the Wartburg castle (1521-1522), Karlstadt and the radical Thomas Muntzer began the initial iconoclastic movement at Wittenberg and preached a distinctive theology, also known as the Anabaptist theology. However, Bodenstein never regarded himself as an anabaptist, neither did Muntzer.

Bodenstein acted as a congregational reformer of the Church, mainly in his own right. After coming in conflict with Luther, he switched his allegiance from the Lutheran to the reformed camp. Andreas Bodenstein later became a radical reformer before once again returning to the reformed tradition. Initially, he ministered as one of plenty of Lutheran preachers in the city of Wittenberg. Andreas Bodenstein journeyed broadly, though only within the bounds of the Holy Roman Empire, intruding German-speaking, French-speaking and Italian-speaking lands. By the termination of his life, he had joined in league with Heinrich Bullinger in Switzerland and served in Basel diligently, where he later died eventually. However, when he was coming closer to the reformed tradition, he gave up the ghost. Bodenstein sustained his precise understanding of many theological issues throughout much of his life.

Bodenstein accumulated his doctorate of theology in the year 1510 from the University of Wittenberg. Earlier then, Bodenstein had gone through educational training at Erfurt, from 1499 to 1503; and in Cologne, from 1503 to 1505. Bodenstein obtained his master’s degree from the year Wittenburg was newly found in the year 1505 and was given a doctorate at the University of Wittenburg five years after he had received his master’s degree.

Bodenstein later became an archdeacon in the same year, immediately he received his doctorate and secured the chair of a theologian department. In 1511 he was made the chancellor of Wittenberg University. In 1512 Bodenstein awarded Martin Luther a doctorate. From the year 1515 to the year 1516, he studied in Rome, where he obtained a double degree in canon and civil law, meaning “utriusque Juris” in Latin at the Sapienza University.

There were some critical stations in the life of Karlstadt Bodenstein. Behind the year 1515, Bodenstein was already a proponent of organised scholasticism. During his time, he was a contemporary city cleric with no official leverage to any monastic order. People challenged his standards and principles during his stay in Rome, where Andreas alleges, for Andreas Bodenstein saw large-scale corruption in the Roman Catholic Church. Moreover, on a document dated September 16 1516, he wrote counts of one hundred and fifty-one theses; Different from Martin Luther’s ninety-five theses in the year 1517; that attacked indulgences.

In the year 1519, Johann Eck rivaled Bodenstein to the Leipzig debate. As at then, Johann Eck challenged both Karlstadt Bodenstein and Martin Luther in a debate.

On June 15 1520, Pope Leo X drafted and sent the papal bull, also known as Exsurge Domine in Latin, which threatened Martin Luther and Andreas Bodenstein, with ex-communication and regarded several of their writings and theses as corrupt and condemned. Both Andreas Bodenstein and Martin Luther still stood resilient to the challenge, though the ex-communication came to be in the year 1521, of the papal bull implying Decet Romanum Pontificem.

Immediately after the Diet of Worms event, on January to May 1521, at the same time, Martin Luther was hiding in Wartburg castle, Bodenstein was busy working towards reforming Wittenberg. On Christmas day 1521, he performed the initial reformed official communion service. Andreas Bodenstein did not raise the essences of communion, as Andreas wore the secular dress during the service and removed all issues about sacrifice from the traditional mass. He spoke in a loud voice and cried, rather than spoke in a low voice the words of institution: as the sayings and readings go thus: “This is my body, and so on”, the reading was done in German other than Latin, he also rejected confession as a prerequisite for communion, and let the communicants to take the bread and to receive wine on their own during the communion service.

At the starting of January 1522, the Wittenberg city council authorised the dismissal of statues from churches and any other imagery objects and accepted the changes introduced by Bodenstein during the Christmas season. Bodenstein wrote “On the Dismissal of Imagery Objects and That There Should Be No Beggars Among Christians” in the year 1522, soon after that authorisation from the city council of meeting. On January 19 in 1522, Bodenstein got married to the love of his life Anna Von Mochau, for she was the fifteen-year-old daughter of a poverty-stricken nobleman. On January 20 of the same year, 1522, the imperial government and Pope ordered Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony, to counter the changes of the protestant reformers. Frederick reverted most of the mass to its Catholic form, but in a letter to the Wittenberg Council, he identified his private compassion for Bodenstein.

University of Wittenberg


Andreas Bodenstein's Interactions with Martin Luther

Martin Luther came back from Wartburg and preached sermons similar to Andreas Bodenstein’s on the first week of March. From 9th to March 16, Martin Luther preached eight sermons supporting the same ideas of Andreas Bodenstein’s Christian theology. It was a great experience between the two reformers. Bodenstein remained in his chastened lifestyle of wearing peasant dresses, preferred being regarded as “brother Andreas,” detached himself from all academic titles, and presented marvellous sermons.

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On May 1523, the Church of Orlamunde invited Bodenstein to be its pastor, which he gladly received. Bodenstein changed the ideas and ways of the Church through his teachings and sermons. The Church of Orlamunde became a standard of a well-reformed gathering of believers. He enlightened and declared the spiritual presence of Christ and disproved the physical presence of Christ. There was the rejection of infant baptism as well as the removal of Church music and art.

In 1524 there was some misunderstanding that sprung up between Martin Luther and Andreas Bodenstein. Luther began operating against Andreas Bodenstein by first disallowing him from giving sermons and publishing without authorisation from Luther. Andreas later resigned as archdeacon, and Martin went further to publish against Andreas Bodenstein. He referred to Thomas Müntzer and Andreas Bodenstein as revolutionists and cautioned that they were dangerous.


The Rustic Conflict and His Passing:

The peasants fighting, also regarded as the rustic conflict, made Andreas seek shade from Martin away from the typical countrymen upheaval. Martin took him in, except that Andreas Bodenstein had to sign an apology for the cause of the peasant conflict. Luther’s wife, Kathrina, later became the godmother of one of Andreas Bodenstein’s children.

After escaping from Saxony, he later served as a minister in Switzerland in 1534, where he ministered in Basel, and later died of a disease. He lived a simple Christian life. He committed his life to reforming Christianity and enlightening people with the word of God, and winning souls for the kingdom of God.


Andreas Karlstadt | Biography, Reformation, Luther, Accomplishments, Beliefs, & Facts | Britannica

Karlstadt, Andreas Rudolf Bodenstein von |


For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Who was the godmother of one of Andreas Bodenstein's children?
    • Katharine von Bora
    • Esther Wyss
    • Anna Reinhard

Answer Key

  1. Katharine von Bora

Interpreting Your Score

If you got 0 correct answers: none

If you got 1 correct answer: Katharine von Bora

© 2021 Chukwuemeka Chinedu

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