(B2-22) Beyond Confessional Clarity: On the Discursive Formation of Heterodox Groups in the Early Modern Period
What is striking when looking at the early modern history of religion from the perspective of a comprehensive history of piety is the complexity and dynamic of the religious forms and practices. A countermovement to and flipside of the rightly stated processes of disambiguation and rationalisation of the confessional age becomes increasingly apparent. This flipside becomes manifest not least in the many mystic spiritualistic writings recurring in periodic cycles, from the 16th-century Anabaptist movement and the Nonconformists of the 17th century to the 18th-century Pietists (see also Pietsch’s postdoctoral project below). The carefully drawn religious and confessional lines that academic theology and the authorities’ Church orders sought to control were watered down and violated by these writings. The positions range from explicit ritual criticism and various dissimulation strategies to a perfectionist deification of the believer. Internalisation tendencies and an elitist consciousness of election were vehicles of this ‘other’ religious expertise, which was often also claimed by women, and religious ambiguity was its outcome. This ambiguity reignited the discourses of politics and religion, which had largely been covered during confessionalism, and diluted the apparent unambiguousness of territorial belonging and denomination.