Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bullinger and sola fide

Bullinger has often been accused of compromising sola fide and of espousing a synergistic understanding of salvation. The following quotation from Archilla’s celebrated The Theology of History and apologetic Histogriography in Heinrich Bullinger: Truth in History will clarify Bullinger’s understanding:

“Bullinger’s understanding of faith upon the promise of Christ as the basic human response in the covenant dispels any doubt about his commitment to sola fide. The question might arise out of a cursory reading of De testamento, where the polemic is against the rebaptizers. But elsewhere Bullinger mainly argues in the context of an anti work-righteousness polemic. Doubt on this issue could also arise from Bullinger’s emphasis on the human response as faith and love. Yet that love for him, as we have shown, flows from the faith that relies solely on Christ. And even that very faith is a gift of God, a work of the Spirit:

‘Furthermore, that faith by which we believe that Christ fulfilled the law, and that he himself is our righteousness and our perfection, comes about neither from our nature nor from our merits, but rather out of god’s grace it is poured in by the Holy Spirit who is given into our hearts. This Spirit by remaining in our hearts, sets our breasts on fire with love and with earnest application to the divine law, so that we may legitimately attempt to expound and apply it by deeds. This earnest application and this attempt even if it never becomes fully realized, on account of the natural disposition of the flesh or human weakness which remains in us unto the end of our life, God nevertheless approves out of grace, but of course on account of Christ: so no one whosoever among the pious trusts in this other fulfillment, but rather in the first, because it is the only perfect one.’(Decades III.8)”