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?

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