Thursday, November 26, 2015
This is how David Steinmetz explains how Zwingli understood the resurrected Christ to be at the right hand of the Father in heaven. David Steinmetz in his “Luther in Context” (2nd ed.) pp78,79:
“If the humanity of Christ continues to be finite, even after the resurrection, then the “right hand of God” must be a place where this finite humanity can be found. One should quickly add that Zwingli has no idea where the “right hand of God” is located and does not speculate about it. It is sufficient for him that the finite humanity of Christ is not found in the space and time in which we inhabit. However, if the finite humanity of Christ is at the right hand of God, it cannot be in the eucharistic elements. Christ stands at the right hand of God to intercede for the Church. But if he is there, he cannot be here. It is not possible for a finite body to be in two places at the same time. Finitude implies and demands a single location.
Christ, however, promised his continual presence with the church (Matthew 28:20) and not merely his continual intercession on its behalf (Hebrews 7:25). In part, Zwingli explains this presence by an appeal to the Johannine promise of another comforter (John 14:16), the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of the Son as well as of the Father. In part, he explains this presence by an appeal to a doctrine which later Lutherans call derisively the extra-Calvinisticum. The extra-Calvinisticum rests on a sharp distinction between the two natures of Christ. While the human nature remains finite in the hypostatic union, the divine nature remains in that same union infinite and unbounded. Christ can be present with the Church in the power of his divine nature. Indeed, it is the presence of Christ by his Spirit and in the power of his divine nature which transforms a congregation of individuals believers into the Eucharistic body of Christ. The divine nature which is present is hypostatically united to a finite human nature which must be absent. Both the presence of the divine nature and the absence of the human nature are soteriologically essential to the being and well-being of the Church.
I am not convinced but this is what David Steinmetz wrote in his “Luther in Context” (2nd ed.) p77:
“Luther is afraid that Zwingli’s rejection of manducatio infidelium has had the subtle effect of transforming faith into a work and has undermined the utterly gracious character of the gifts which God gives the Church through the sacraments. For Luther, the Lord’s Supper is a testament, a one-sided covenant in which God both sets the terms by which he will be gracious to the Church and fulfils those terms himself. The condition for putting the testament into effect is the death of the testator, not the faith of the beneficiary. A sacrament is constituted by God’s will, testament and promise. The promise creates faith because the death of the testator has rendered it effective. Faith grasps the effective promise; it does not make the promise effective. Christ gives himself to men and women in the eucharist whether they believe it or not. Otherwise faith would be a work, a sacrifice, something offered to God in order to induce him to be gracious. Unless one affirms that even unbelievers eat the body and blood of Christ, one will lapse into a new form of works-righteousness, all the more insidious because it marches under the banner of faith alone. “The cup of blessing which we bless” is “the blood of Christ.” It does not merely signify the blood of Christ, and it does not wait on the faith of the recipient to become what it is.”
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
The following is an abstract of Peter Opitz, "The Authority of Scripture in the Zurich Reformation," Journal of Reformed Theology, vol 5, 2011, pp296-309.
The decisive impulse of the Zurich Reformation was not a particular theological tenet or the religious experience of one single reformer. It was the discovery of the authority of God’s Word. This discovery was essentially a liberating experience. Scripture was experienced as the place for encountering the living God, who is intrinsically a gracious God, and who correspondingly makes his will known to people. Given the circumstances of early modernity, it was, however, consequent and inevitable that in the process of restructuring a Christian society and church according to God’s Word the Bible became the authoritative scripture., Abstract The decisive impulse of the Zurich Reformation was not a particular theological tenet or the religious experience of one single reformer. It was the discovery of the authority of God’s Word. This discovery was essentially a liberating experience. Scripture was experienced as the place for encountering the living God, who is intrinsically a gracious God, and who correspondingly makes his will known to people. Given the circumstances of early modernity, it was, however, consequent and inevitable that in the process of restructuring a Christian society and church according to God’s Word the Bible became the authoritative scripture.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Despite claims that Zwingli was influenced by Luther in developing his reformed ideas, look at what Zwingli declares in Article 18 of “The Defense of the Reformed Faith”:
“Before anyone in this area had even heard of Luther, I began to preach the gospel of Christ in 1516 so that I never entered the pulpit without looking up the words which were to be read in the mass that day and expounding them on the basis of scripture…
When I began to preach in Zurich in 1519 I indicated to the honourable gentlemen of the Chapter hos I intended to preach on the gospel of Matthew, God willing, without any human addenda and without any hesitancy or wavering because of counter arguments. At the beginning of that same year (for I reached Zurich on St John the Evangelist day), no one in our midst knew anything of Luther, except that he had said something concerning indulgences, which did not teach me anything new since I had been informed earlier that indulgences were a fraud and false appearance. I had learned this from a disputation with Thomas Wyttenbach of Biel, mylord and faithful teacher had engaged in Basel some time ago, though I was not present at the time. Consequently Luther’s writing at the time did little to help me in my preaching on Matthew. Nonetheless, everyone eager to hear the word of God came hurrying to my expositions so that I was quite surprised myself…
For who has equipped me to preach the gospel and to preach from the writing of one evangelist from beginning to end? Did Luther? I started preaching the gospel before I had ever heard Luther’s name mentioned and in order to prepare for the same time I started to learn Greek some ten years ago so that I might learn the teaching of Christ from its original sources. How well I have mastered Greek, I let others judge. However, Luther, whose name I did not know for another two years, had definitely not instructed me. I followed holy scripture alone. But the papists burden me and others with such names from sheer malice, as I have stated earlier, saying, ‘You must be Lutheran for you preach just as Luther writes.’ My answer is: ‘I preach the word of Christ: why do you not take me to be a Christian as well?’ They practice sheer malice…
By the same token, I do not wish the papists to call me Lutheran; for I did not learn the teachings of Christ from Luther but from the very word of God. If Luther preaches Christ he does the same thing as I do, though, God be praised, through him a far greater number of people are led to God than through me and others (whose measure God increases and diminishes as he pleases). So far I do not wish to bear no other name than that of my captain Christ: whose foot soldier I am. He shall give me the orders and pay, as he sees fit. I hope that some will understand by now why I do not wish to be called Lutheran even though I esteem Luther as highly as any other person. Accordingly I testify before God and all people that all my life I have not written a single word to him nor has he written to me.”