In a pattern that was apparently similar in many settings throughout early modern Europe, unstable confessional majorities attempted to defend their positions by building local consensus around powerful ideologies (such as the Formula of Concord) and combating rivals by linking them together using the language of confessional polemic. This development should be seen as closely related to, and an aspect of, the processes of confessionalization in early modern Europe, which historians have developed and refined since the pioneering work of Heinz Schilling and Wolfgang Reinhard. Members of competing faiths were dangerous because they spoke in ways that were theologically inconsistent with the world-view that the majority had been indoctrinated with, and these inconsistencies were thought to threaten the very existence of the community. Biblical evidence, the most valuable form of support during these attacks, was used repeatedly to reject contemporary heresy and make a connection to the evangelical tradition of which Martin Luther was the

definitive spokesperson and “prophet.” In this climate, all rivals were assumed to have shared characteristics that threatened the community, and university-trained theologians such as Heinrich Heshusius were taught that most rival groups could be tarred with the same brush and combated using similar mechanisms. Confessional polemic, a special type of rhetoric meant to identify and tarnish competing confessions, emerged at this time as a distinctive tool for secular and ecclesiastical leaders, and it helped to define the distinctive confessional cultures that took shape in Europe during the era of early Orthodoxy.