Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bullinger’s advice to Calvin

In response to the Gnesio-Lutherans re the Reformed understanding of the Lord’s Supper (in particular, the Consensus Tigurinus) Calvin, in tandem with Beza, drafted a reply that would be sent to Westphal. Calvin sent his draft to Bullinger for his comments as Bullinger had previously stated re this effort: “May the Lord give you His Holy Spirit so that the enterprise will be to His honor and a blessing to many. I await your answer with longing.”

But when Calvin’s full draft was received in Zurich it was deemed not on the ball enough re the Lord’s Supper, especially its attitude to the Augsburg Confession. Furthermore, it was a very aggressive attack on the Gnesio-Lutherans without sufficiently analyzing their position. It was more a case of playing the man rather than playing the ball. Bullinger was given the task of conveying the comments of the ministers at Zurich to Calvin. The following is an extract of Bullinger’s letter to Calvin:

“It appears to us, dear Calvin, that you proceed far too roughly against our opponents. Three or four times, you call them ‘good-for-nothing’ and you reproach them because of the cows of their country and their nearness to the polar seas and you call Westphal a ‘beast’. Well, we admit freely that they deserve such harsh treatment but – not from you and not from us. It will be more to our favor to remain charitable. It was exactly invective like this in Luther’s writings which put off many sincere people. Your written response, therefore, should be, in our opinion, thoroughly moderate in tone, so that one will in every respect appreciate that the author simply aims at the upkeep and defence of the truth. He retains his Christian dignity and leniency in spite of these stormy and violent times. We wish, as far as is possible, to give Westphal, this verbose and belligerent man, no further opportunity to squabble. In Saxony and northwards to the Baltic Sea there are many thousands of well-meaning people whose friendship, as you mention, we should cultivate. Perhaps, however, exactly these people would feel insulted by your offensive statements. As you use general terms of abuse concerning cold and icy people, beasts and ne’er-do-wells, it would be better to strike them out and name the renewer of the sacrament controversy by his correct name, Westphal, so that everyone will know that we are proceeding against him.” (Pestalozzi, p389)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bullinger’s commencement as Antistes of Zurich

The following is part of Zwingli’s address to the magistrates in Zurich in assuming the role of Antistes. Zwingli had been one of three Leutpriesters.

“I swear according to the mandate imposed by my lords of Zurich to teach and preach the holy gospel and Word of God to which I am called, from the Old Testament and the New Testament, faithfully according to my rightful Christian understanding and ability, and not to meddle with any doubtful dogma or wayward, unauthorized teaching but follow the ruling of the general synod which is called twice yearly, Furthermore it is my duty and will to serve the Lord Mayors, Council and Citizens with faithfulness and a good disposition as my rulers and support the well-being and piety of the city and canton by preventing harm and providing admonition as much as lies in my power. I shall be obedient and true to them and their appointed constables and officials and to their commands and strictures in reverential and equitable matters and remain in attendance loyally and void of any menace.”

Ich schwöre, das heilige Evangelium und Wort Gottes, dazu ich berufen bin, treulich und nach rechtem christlichem Verstand auch nach Vermög alten und neuen Testamentes, laut meiner Herren von Zürich erlassenen Mandates, zu lehren und zu predigen, und darunter kein Dogma oder Lehre, die zweifelhft, noch nicht uaf der Bahn und anerkannt ware, mit einzumischen, sie sei den zuvor der allgemeinen, ordentlichen Versammlung, die jährlich zweimal gehalten wird, angezeigt und von derselben anerkannt worden. Ueberdies soll und will ich einem Bürgermesiter und Rath, auch die Bürgern, als meiner ordentlichen Obrigkeit true und hnold sein, gemeiner Stadt und Landes Zürich Nutz und Frommen fördern, ihren Schaden wenden und davor warmen, so weit ich’s vermag, auch ihr und ihren bestellten Vögten und Amleuten, ihre Geboten und Verboten, in geziemenden, billigen Sachen gehorsam und gewärtig sein, truelich und ohne alle Gefährde.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ella on Bullinger and Calvin

The following is Ella’s assessment of the relationship of Calvin vis-à-vis Bullinger (George Ella, Henry Bullinger: Shepherd of the Churches):

“It is this author’s contention that Calvin, with all his obvious abilities as a Reformer, has been placed on a pedestal which rightly belongs to Bullinger who eclipsed his French friend in almost all areas. Indeed, had it not been for Bullinger’s strong leadership over Calvin and the enormous influence Bullinger exerted on his doctrine and the fatherly and brotherly way Bullinger supported Calvin in all his battles, Calvin would never have remained in Geneva from 1541-1564 and never have been half the Reformer he was. Bullinger’s advantage over Calvin was that Zurich at that time, as Bullinger repeatedly testifies, was a City of a Hill in the spiritual sense that church and state lived in almost constant, peaceful harmony. On the other hand, the scene at Geneva was one of turbulence and strife both with each other. We never hear of Bullinger denouncing his fellow ministers, citizens and Council in the denigrating way Calvin did the ministers, Church, citizenship and Council of Geneva up to the last few years of his life. It must be also be said with equal truthfulness that the peace of Zurich was largely Bullinger’s making and the problems which arose in Geneva, which Bullinger was invariably looked upon to solve, were often because of Calvin’s lack of diplomacy and lack of control over his temper, tongue and pen.”

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Yet More On Bullinger and Luther

The following is an extract of Bullinger’s letter to Bonifacius Amerbach dated 14 March 1545:

“He (ie Luther) has ranged and raved in public writings against the living and the dead to such an extent that we cannot conceal it. We respond, however, modestly, I imagine, for these very good men and especially for the church for which we are ministers, defending our integrity and that of others in a forthright manner.”

In his Wahrhaftes Bekenntnis of 1545 Bullinger described Luther’s Brief Confession in the following way:

“This book is so full of devilish unchristian insults, lewd filth, impure speech, anger roguishness, rage, and fury that all who read it … must wonder that such an aged, quite experienced, and well respected man should write so crudely before everyone.”

At the end of Wahrhaftes Bekenntnis Bullinger appended Luther’s Kurzesbekenntnis or Brief Confession for comparison to indicate his willingness of his work to be openly inspected and compared to that of Luther’s.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bullinger and the Covenant in his De prophetae officio

Bullinger writes the following in his work on the role of prophets:

“For testament, which also is the title for all of Scripture, surely stands for the content of all of Scripture. Neither is this to be wondered at as something recent or devoid of meaning. For by the word testament we understand the covenant and agreement by which God agreed with the entire human race, to be himself our God, our sufficiency, source of good and horn of plenty. And this he would abundantly prove by the gift of the fertile earth and the incarnation of his son. Man, however, ought to pursue integrity, that he may stand before this God with a perfect and upright mind, that he may walk in his ways and commit himself totally to him, as to the highest and most loving Father.”

De prophetae officio sig. Aivv-Avr

Sunday, October 9, 2011

More on Bullinger and Luther

In response to Luther’s attack on Zwingli and Oecolampadius in his Brief Confession, Bullinger wrote the following:

“Or should Luther be allowed to write so furiously while we cannot even once publish Zwingli’s pious and useful work with a modest preface. Yes, we will protect our teaching – not with our own abilities but through the power and help of Christ.”

(from Bullinger’s letter to Ambrose Blarer of 5 September 1544)

On another occasion, he wrote:

“I would rather die than disown the simple and certain truth of our church for a dream of concord. Better concord with the truth and discord with Luther than concord with him and discord with the truth.”

(from Bullinger’s letter to Bucer, May 1544 as quoted in Pestalozzi, p227)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

More on Luther and Zurich

As is well known, in Luther’s exposition on Genesis (based on his lectures in Wittenberg in July 1543), Luther labeled Zwingli a “Schwärmer” and an enemy of his understanding of the sacraments. Bullinger reacted to this and Luther’s recent rejection and criticism of Froschauer’s Bible and wrote the following in his letter to Joaichim Vadian:

“Luther has never ceased, both publicly and privately, to condemn Zwingli and ourselves. We have written to him privately, just as was decreed, but he did not respond, disregarding us and criticizing us sharply.”

(Die Vadianische Briefwechsel VI, p322)

Luther had claimed that Zwingli had broken their Marburg agreement by publishing his Exposition of the Christian Faith and sending it to Francis I of France.

Melanchthon reacted to Luther’s action by writing to Frecht:

“the pain which I feel over the renewal of the sacramental controversy would still not be relieved.” He further wrote to Bullinger:

“Before this letter has arrived you will have perhaps already received doctor Luther’s abominable work in which he renews the war over the Lord’s Supper. He had not blunder so impetuously on this matter until now. My hope for peace in our churches is gone. We will only advance our enemies, who are protected by monkish idolatry. Our churches will be torn apart again! This cuts my heart to pieces.”

(Corpus Reformatorum: Opera quae supersunt Omnia, V, p476)

Bullinger also wrote the following to Melanchthon:

“Luther insults not only us, but the holy Christian church, whose servants we are after the call of god; he insults the Lord Jesus Himself, He, the highest leader of the congregation, our king and high priest, whom we follow and serve.”

(Pestalozzi, p220).

Calvin also wrote to Bullinger to encourage him not to be too harsh with Luther:

“I hear that Luther has at length broken forth in fierce invective, not so much against you as against the whole of us. On the present occasion, I dare scarce venture to ask you to keep silence, because it is neither just that innocent persons should be harassed, nor that they should be denied the opportunity of clearly themselves; neither on the other hand, is it easy to determine whether it would be prudent for them to so so. But of this I do earnestly desire to put in mind, in the first place, that you should consider how eminent a man Luther is, and the excellent endowments wherewith he is gifted, with what strength of mind and resolute constancy, with how great skill, with what efficacy and power of doctrinal statement, he hath hitherto devoted his whole energy to overthrow the reign of antichrist, and at the same time to diffuse far and near the doctrine of salvation.”

(Calvin Opera XI, p774)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jim West’s Book on Zwingli

Jim West has produced a book on Zwingli. Jim is a Zwingli expert and Zwingliphile. The books lets Zwingli speak for himself. It is a helpful read though the downside is that there is little on Zwingli and Bullinger.

Here is a link to the book which can be purchased as a pdf file:

Zwingli’s Works Online

The staff of Zwingliana have been very busy beavering away and have made available Zwingli’s works online. The links are:

For Zwingli’s works:

For Zwingli’s letters:

A big THANK YOU to everyone at the IRG in Zurich!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bullinger on Luther

The following is a citation from Bullinger’s letter to Eberhard von Ruemlang, the town clerk of Bern. The letter is dated 8 March 1539. The citation comes towards the end of the letter:

“I recognize Luther as a man who has erred and is able to err, who ought to be admonished about error and controlled. I do not approve of those who have determined to build a bookcase out of our new understanding.”

(Corpus Reformatorum: Johannis Calvini Opera quae supersunt Omnia, X, p322)

The following quote is from Bullinger’s letter to Luther on 30 August 1539 which appears to be the last correspondence between Bullinger and Luther. The letter responds to Luther’s charge that Zwingli was guilty of Nestorianism:

“Most learned Luther, we have read your treatise on the councils and fathers which is clearly necessary and suitable for our time. May the Lord strengthen you so that you may continue to battle and destroy the rule of the antichrist with zealous perserverence and unshakeable bravery. It grieves us very much that you do no honor our great and learned man, Ulrich Zwingli.”

(Weimar Ausgabe, Briefwechsel, VIII, p546)

Luther and the Zurich Reformers

The quote from Luther’s Table Talk in the previous post contrasts with Luther’s letter of 1 December 1537 in reply to a letter the Swiss sent him in January 1537 stating their position concerning the theological issues dividing the Swiss and the Germans. Bullinger was so pleased with Luther’s reply that he wrote the following to Myconius in his letter of February 1538:

“Luther’s answer is clear, simply, thoroughly unadorned, and fully Christian. He does not attack our writing concerning the Lord’s Supper, rejects nothing, does not order us to do anything, and expresses himself simply; at the conclusion he recognizes us as brothers and asks for our friendship, and also allows those interpretations that are not wholly agreed upon to stand. In short it was good. One should not deride it.”

(quoted in Pestalozzi p 206)

But this apparent positive attitude of Luther to the Swiss was not to last very long!

Table Talk and Bullinger

The following quote from Luther’s Table Talk illustrates how perturbed Luther was at Bullinger’s understanding concerning Christ’s presence in the Eucharist:

“Before the world existed God said, ‘Let there be a world; and the world was. So he says here (in the Lord’s Supper), ‘Let this be my body,’ and it is, nor is it prevented by the scoffing of Bullinger, who says that because it isn’t present. For in the former instance he created invisible, in such fashion as he wished.”

(Luther’s Works, Vol. 54, Table Talk (ed. and trans. G. Tappert – Fortress Press, 1967), p89)

Zwingliana in print

The 2011 edition of Zwingliana is now in print. A big thank you to the editorial staff who have worked hard to produce this edition. Here is a summary of the articles of this issue:

Martin Bundi “Zur Dynamik der frühen Reformbewegung in Graubünden: Staats-, kirchen- und privatrechtliche Erlasse des Dreibündestaates 1523-1526”

Christine Christ-v. Wedel “Das Buch der Bücher popularisieren: Der Bibelübersetzer Leo Jud und sein biblisches Erbauungsbuch "Vom lyden Christi" (1534)"

Rebecca A. Giselbrecht “Myths and Reality about Heinrich Bullinger's Wife Anna”

Mark Taplin “Josias Simler and the Fathers: The "Scripta veterum latina" (1571)”

Urs B. Leu “The Hollis-Collections in Switzerland: An Attempt to Disseminate Political and Religious Freedom through Books in the 18th Century”

Christoph Ramstein “ “Pfarrbrüder", "Pfarrconvent" und Schweizerische Predigergesellschaft: Drei historische Beispiele der Zusammenarbeit und des Austauschs unter Pfarrpersonen der reformierten Schweiz im 19. Jahrhundert”