The Bredenburg Disputes
Among the most protracted of the Dutch controversies was the bitter quarrel which erupted around the well-meaning figure of Johannes Bredenburg, a dispute which reached such a pitch of intensity that it eventually generated a formal schism in the Dutch Collegiant movement. A fringe Church in numbers, the Collegiants, from their origins in the second quarter of the 17th century down to the early 18th, were disproportionately prominent in Dutch intellectual debate owing to the special emphasis they placed on the intellectual and spiritual freedom of the individual. As such they were both a new and highly innovative phenomenon in the wider European, as well as Dutch, context, reflecting in a theological mode the wider psychological and spiritual reaction against the pressures of confessionalization gripping western culture in the late 17th century. The Bredenburg disputes were the climax of a long process reaching back to the 1650s when a fringe of Socinian, rationalist Collegiants, including Jelles and Pieter Balling, became immersed in Cartesianism and formed links with the radical philosophical clique around Van den Enden, Meyer, and Spinoza.
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