Thursday, September 30, 2010

Institut für Schweizerische Reformationsgeschichte

The website of the Institute is:

This website gives details of the various projects presently undertaken, such as the systematic publishing of Bullinger’s correspondence.

The Institute is situated at Kirchgasse 9 and is above the quadrangle adjacent to the Grossmunster. Many resources are available here as well as at the nearby Zentralbibliothek Zürich (at Zähringerplatz, adjacent to Predigerkirche) and also at the Staatsarchiv des Kantons Zürich which is adjacent to the Irchel campus of the University of Zurich.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pride and Prejudice

The age old dynamic of pride and prejudice was a great hindrance to the Reformation in German speaking Europe. An earlier post referred to the “one-upmanship” of Zwingli vis-à-vis Luther with respect to mastering the biblical languages as well as applying the disciplines of humanism. As is well known, Luther was prejudiced against Zwingli and the leaders of the church at Zurich. He continued to be prejudiced against them until the end. He termed them “Schwärmer”. When the Zurich church sent him a gift of a copy of the Zurich Bible he refused to accept it.

When Luther wrote in a vitriolic way about the church in Zurich, Bullinger replied with the Warhaftes Bekenntnis (1545). The full title in English of this work is: A truthful Confession of the Servants of the Church at Zürich as to what they hold from the Word of God and in common with the holy universal Christian church believe and teach especially concerning the Lord’s Supper, in answer to the Slander, Condemnations and Jests of Dr Martin Luther as translated by John T. McNeill, Unitive Protestantism: The Ecumenical Spirit in its Persistent Expression, (Richmond: John Knox Press, 1964 p193).

It was only when Bullinger was pushed to the limit that he responded with Warhaftes Bekenntnis. Throughout his long ministry in Zurich as antistes (1531-1575), Bullinger models for us the self effacing attitude of a humble servant of Christ. For example, although he was the major contributor to the Consensus Tigurinus (1549) only Calvin’s name appears in print on the actual document.

Let’s all strive to prevent the ugly dynamic of pride and prejudice from raising its head again. How often do we have unhealthy pride in our own interpretation and understanding of a passage of Scripture? How often are we prejudiced against the interpretation and understanding of Scripture of others?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Zwingli and the Lord's Supper

Much has been written about Zwingli and the Lord's Supper. The two books of W.Peter Stephens should be consulted for this.

The following is a excerpt from Locher:

"Zwingli's protest against Luther's sacramental realism did not arise from rationalism, but from his Christology, out of concern for the complete and exclusive validity of the atonement which was made on the cross. If reconciliation took place there, then the comfort of the troubled soul cannot be made to depend on the celebration of the sacrament - an alternative which Luther never understood, nor could ever recognise on the basis of his presuppositions. But for Zwingli, as he never tired of saying, if the ceremony was more than a testimony to the forgiveness which God has sealed in my heart, through His Holy Spirit, for the sake of Christ - if it constitutes the very act of forgiveness, then it is nothing but a 'yearning for the fleshpots of Egypt', the first decline into medieval ceremonialism, in which faith clings to what is visible instead of to Christ, who is both in one, the manifestation and the pledge of grace (gratia praestita Dei, pignus gratiae). At this point - Zwingli cannot see it any other way - the whole of the Reformation is at stake."

(Gottfried W. Locher, 'Zwingli's Thought: New Perspectives' (Brill, 1981, p21)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Zwingli's Oneupmanship

The following illustrates how Zwingli sought to highlight his ability in the biblical languages over against that of Luther.

Zwingli quoted Philippians 2:6ff at the Marburg Colloquoy and said: “The passage reads ‘ος ’εν μορφη θεου ‘υπαρχων and μορφην δουλου λαβων. To which Luther said: “Read it in German or Latin, not Greek”. Zwingli then replied: “Pardon me for using the Greek Testament. I have been using it for twelve years. I have only read the Latin once.

(Gottfried W. Locher, “Zwingli’s Thought: New Perspectives” (Brill, 1981), p 57)

Friday, September 24, 2010

The power of the Word of God

Zwingli believed in the power of the Word of God to changes lives.

He wrote: "Truly, the Word of God will take its course as surely as the Rhine; you can dam it up for a while, but you cannot stop its flow" (Z III, p488).

The unity of the Old Testament and the New Testament

One of the characteristic features of the writings of Bullinger was the emphasis on the unity of the Old Testament and the New Testament. He saw the theme of the covenant linking together all of the books of the canon.

Bullinger wrote the following in his De scripturae negotio:

“In brief, I find that the New Testament is nothing but the interpretation of the Old. Except that I saw that the Old promises, the New teaches what has been exhibited; the Old is more concealed, the New is more revealed openly; the Old has to do with veils and figures, the New with clear evidences and the very things themselves.”

(Heinrich Bullinger Werke Dritte Abteilung: Theologische Schriften – Band 2: Unveröffentlichte Werke aus der Kappeler Zeit (Zürich: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 1991), p25)

Zurich Connection

This blog has been set up to stimulate interest in the Zurich reformers Zwingli and Bullinger.