The Moravians And Their Religious Philosophy -- By: Leslie R. Sovocol

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 088:352 (Oct 1931)
Article: The Moravians And Their Religious Philosophy
Author: Leslie R. Sovocol


The Moravians And Their Religious Philosophy

Leslie R. Sovocol

The Moravian Church Name

One of the parodies of history is that a “nickname” should have fastened itself inescapably to the oldest of Protestant Evangelical Churches in existence. The very first name by which the followers of John Hus, the Bohemian reformer were known was a “nickname.” They were called “Picards” a Bohemian name for an order of French Protestants called “Beghards” who stood in opposition to the practices of the church as early as the 13th Century. This name clung to the Bohemian Brethren long after they had chosen for themselves the name of “Jednota Bratska,” or “Union of the Brethren.” This name translated into Latin, “Unitas Fratrum,” became the official title of this ancient Bohemian Protestant Church. It might have been called the Bohemian Protestant Episcopal Church.

Subsequently when the members of the Ancient Unitas Fratrum, who had been driven from Bohemia to Poland, thence to Moravia, and had finally found a refuge in Germany on the estate of Count Lewis Nicholas von Zinzendorf, at Herrnhut, they came to be called “Moravians,” from the country whence they had migrated. Their name clung to them since their renewal of the Ancient evangelical brotherhood, although in Germany the church is called “The Bruederkirche.” Efforts have been made to change the name “Moravian” to some more popular title, but the missionary, evangelistic, and educational ideals of the church have given the name “Moravian” a regard among evangelical churches, for which no other name can be substituted. If the name “Moravian” is less known than it should be, it remains for present and future generations to inscribe its most cherished traditions on the scroll of Universal thought, and to clothe it with an unprecedented recognition.1

The Unitas Fratrum owes its existence directly to the teachings of John Hus, a Professor in the University of Prague, and Pastor of The Bethlehem Chapel at Prague. The Czechs and Slavs were always a religious and simple hearted people. About the middle of the 9th Century Bohemia and Moravia were converted to Christianity chiefly through the influence of the Greek Church and the labors of its two illustrious missionaries, Cyril and Methodius. They translated the Bible into the vernacular and introduced a national ritual. Hence Bohemia and Moravia gradually fell under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Rome.

About the middle of the fourteenth century under the wise dominion of Charles the First, of Bohemia, the country rose to a position of leadership in the political and religious affairs of E...

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