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Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560), born Philipp Schwartzerdt, was a German reformer, collaborator with Martin Luther, the first systematic theologian of the Protestant Reformation, intellectual leader of the Lutheran Reformation, and an influential designer of educational systems.
He stands next to Luther and Calvin as a reformer, theologian, and molder of Protestantism. Along with Luther, he is the primary founder of Lutheranism. They both denounced what they believed was the exaggerated cult of the saints, justification by works, and the coercion of the conscience in the sacrament of penance by the Catholic Church, that they believed could not offer certainty of salvation.
Melanchthon made the distinction between law and gospel the central formula for Lutheran evangelical insight. By the "law", he meant God's requirements both in Old and New Testament; the "gospel" meant the free gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
The composition now known as the Augsburg Confession was laid before the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, and would come to be considered perhaps the most significant document of the Protestant Reformation. While the confession was based on Luther's Marburg and Schwabach articles, it was mainly the work of Melanchthon.
Portrait of Philipp Melanchthon by Lucas Cranach