Youth Confirmation ages in Luther's days?

Started by yagart, August 29, 2006, 09:41:04 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


When Luther taught confirmation in the Lutheran Church to young children, what was the typical age of when the kids started and age they were confirmed? I had this info before but lost it.  I thought it was from age 7 thru 11?  If you can give me this info and the source(s) that would be great.  God Bless.

Steven Tibbetts

Quote from: yagart on August 29, 2006, 09:41:04 PM
When Luther taught confirmation in the Lutheran Church to young children, what was the typical age of when the kids started and age they were confirmed?

Luther didn't teach confirmation, and the establishment of an Evangelical rite of Confirmation in the Lutheran Churches seems to be product of 17th Century Pietism. 

You can find the following in Confirmation, Catechesis, and First Communion in the Lutheran Church, a study document received by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England in 2003:
Luther was much more concerned with catechesis, the instruction of all Christians, young and old, in the basics of the faith as detailed in his two catechisms. In his two revisions of the Communion liturgy Luther stresses the need for Christians to be instructed and examined in the faith before they are to commune. In Wittenberg this instruction took place through weekday preaching in the city church.  Three times a year Luther preached through the six chief parts of the catechism.  Parents were responsible for bringing their children (and servants) to these catechism services. Later, such instruction would also take place in day schools, under the supervision of a schoolmaster. Once the parents were satisfied that their children had learnt what was taught, they brought them to the pastor for examination, Confession, and Absolution, after which the children were permitted to commune....

In early Lutheranism, Confirmation as a separate liturgical rite simply ceased to exist in most places, inasmuch as it had no divine institu tion or promise of grace.  Catechesis, however, was clearly mandated by God (e.g., Deut. 6:6-9; Ps. 78:5-8; Mt. 28:20), and received great attention. The 16th-century Lutheran church orders are reluctant to specify an age at which this should take place. When they do speak of one, it ranges from 7 to 12 years old.  Although an initial, minimal amount of catechesis was required before 'First Communion', catechesis was understood to be a life-long process. As Christians regularly conversed with their pastor in private Confession and Absolution, he used the opportunity to continue examining their understanding of the faith.

(see < >)

Pax, Steven+

The Rev. Steven Paul Tibbetts, STS
Pastor Zip's Blog


Some further details which may be of interest:

The Fourth Lateran council put first confession (followed by first communion) at the "age of reason", which I have seen traditionally given as 7 or 12.  For the evangelical church, for example in Wittenberg, the examination before first communion took the place of the "inane spectacle" of the Roman rite of confirmation (the "Reformatio Wiitembergensis" of 1545, cited in Reu, Catechetics (1918), p. 681).

According to Reu, while the Pietists promoted a confirmation rite, it was present already in the mid-16th century (note the document Steven cites says that confirmation ceased to exist in most places).  Reu traces it to Martin Bucer, who incorporated the laying on of hands and a vow of obedience to the Church.  Spener first witnessed confirmation at a village in Hesse (where it was introduced in 1539), and secured its general diffusion. (See Reu, pp. 147f; 676-697)



Jonathan is right, though Steven's information is otherwise right. Spener ran into it in Hesse, where Bucer introduced it, but it was only a rite. Spener made it a long term pastoral teaching. This was like him. He really is responsible for introducing Pastors teaching the Bible to laity. It's hard to imagine that this hadn't been done before him in Germany, but as far as I know, no one actually implemented a regular program in the church.

SMF spam blocked by CleanTalk