Modernizace českého evangelického prostředí: případ svobodných církví
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THE MODERNISATION OF THE CZECH PROTESTANT MILIEU: CASE OF FREE CHURCHES
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Protestant churches permitted under the Patent of Toleration issued by Joseph II (i.e. the Lutherans and the Calvinists) remained on the outskirts of Czech society with the exception of the Aš (German: Asch) region and the Těšín Silesia (German: Teschener Schlesien). Only after the Protestants achieved equal rights (the Protestant Provisorium 1849, the Protestant Patent 1861), their churches began to expand numerically and had a social and cultural impact. Indeed, their activities from the end of the 19th century until World War II considerably exceeded their relatively small numbers. Simultaneously, alternative „free“ evangelical churches emerged in the second half of the 19th century (the reconstituted Unity of the Brethren, the Free Reformed Church, the Baptists, the Adventists and others), or even Old Catholics. Small churches represented an alternative for Protestants dissatisfied with the functioning of „people‘s“ churches and their deeper religiosity, which often had sectarian features, also appealed, to a degree, to converts from the Roman Catholic environment. The growth in numbers and importance of Protestants in the Czech Lands was linked with nationalist movements and nationalist-confessional links which emerged in the German speaking environment as early as the 1860s and in the Czech and Polish environments in the period around World War I and in its wake. These processes can be understood as manifestations of modernisation in Protestant communities, partially coming from abroad, which led to theological liberalism (in the case of Czech speaking Protestants, but with an „inter-phase“ of confessionalism). Contrary to that, small Evangelical churches took the path of Enlightenment criticism of theological liberalism, which, however, was based on no less – although different – modernist principles.
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