6. Lippe

The development of the Reformation in the County of Lippe began as early as the beginning of the fifteen-twenties. Above all, there arose in the town Lemgo (also however in Salzuflen and Blomberb) a local movement that, as early as 1533, led to the town’s becoming Protestant, the Church Constitution of Brunswick of the Reformer Johannes Bugenhagen being introduced in the town. The Protestant movement could not spread throughout the whole of the county, however, since the Count Simon V remained Roman Catholic. After his death in 1536, his still under-age son, Bernhard VIII, became his successor. There were at the time two competing powers trying to influence Lippe: the Catholic Paderborn and the Protestant Hesse. Bernhard’s guardian, Landgrave Philip of Hesse, succeeded and so the Reformation was introduced officially in the whole of Lippe in 1538. In the same year, a new church constitution was drawn up by the Bremen theologians Adrian Buxschoten and Johann Tiemann, which was even reported on positively by Melanchthon. At the same time, a visitation by the Lower Saxon Reformer Antonius Corvinus in 1542 brought about that the Reformation had in many places not yet properly gained a foothold.


In the Augsburg Interim in 1548, there was an attempt by Paderborn to re-catholicise Lippe, which nevertheless remained unsuccessful. Only after the Religious Peace Treaty of Augsburg in 1555 can one say that the Lutheran Reformation became generally established in Lippe. In 1571 there arose a new church constitution, which completed the first one from 1538. It keeps to the Augsburg Confession of 1530 and includes both instructions for the church service and for everyday life. In the meantime, Bernhard VIII had died in 1563. His son, Simon VI, born in 1554, became his successor and turned towards Melanchthon-Reformed convictions (perhaps because of the family circumstances on his mother’s side, but possibly above all on the basis of his study in Strasbourg with Johannes Sturm). During his educational tour, which also led him through the Netherlands, he came in contact with the Reformed theologian Menso Alting in East Friesland and with Christoph Pezel in Bremen, both of whom impressed him. When Simon VI took over the government businesses, he very gradually began a reworking towards the Reformed Reformation. For him this was no new reformation, but rather a continuation of what had already existed in Lippe for almost 60 years. He did not want to introduce any strict Calvinism in Lippe, but rather sought the balance between the various Protestant orientations. In the year of 1600, a consistorial constitution was drawn up on the instructions of Simon VI by Dreckmeier, the Chief Superintendent of Detmold, modelled on the Reformed Church Constitution of the Electoral Palatinate.

Simon VI. von Lippe

However, it was only in 1605 that Count Simon VI and his family, in the Detmold market church, received the Lord’s Supper according to the Reformed rite. By 1612 all the congregations in the County of Lippe except Lemgo had become Reformed, though a negative attitude certainly arose among the church people in many places. The majority of the pastors nevertheless gave their support to the Reformed confessionalisation. The steadfast refusal of the town Lemgo to become Reformed was successful. They retained the right to remain Lutheran (“Roehrentruper Rezess” 1617).
Simon VI died in 1613. His successors reigned only briefly and did not create many new impulses. In the foreground there stood the terror of the Thirty Years’ War. It was only in 1684 that the “Christian Church Constitution of the County of Lippe” appeared, a church constitution originating from the General Superintendent, Jakob Zeller, in which tasks and functions of life in the congregations are set out and described. The character of this church constitution is uplifting – a pietistic streak pervades this text, which is still officially valid in the Church of Lippe today. The Regional Church of Lippe today is Reformed in character with a Lutheran division.

From the Christian Church Constitution of 1684 (Lippe)

From the preamble
In this public document is this new church constitution herewith published / and thus made known to each and every one of our subjects regardless of class or social standing. And since we, the currently reigning regional ruler and bishop, are entitled to order and direct the public church service within the churches of our county, so that it may be as much as possible in agreement with the Word of God…

From Article 24:
On the examplary life of preachers and congregation members

A Preacher who teaches others that no one will see God without sanctification and exhorts each individual to work for his own blessedness in fear and trembling should in the first place show in his own person that he has no higher concern than God’s glory, …and purify himself from any kind of defilement of the flesh or mind, in order to perfect his sanctification in the fear of the Lord… He should abstain from all inns, beer, wine and spirit houses; he should not join in with the general laughter and tippling, be modest and sober at feasts, not attend the dancing, and should not interfere in any world trade, courtship or writing of wills.


Questions for further work

1. The Church Constitution of Lippe of 1684 came into force on 9th June 1684 at the instigation of Count Simon Henry. In its form it is typical and expressive of the “princely Reformation” in Germany. How does the Preamble see the function of the counts in relation to the church?

2. What role of the preacher is discernible in Art. 24?