Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hooper to Bullinger

The following is an extract from John Hooper to Bullinger. Dated 27 January 1546 from Strasburg.

“The conference at Ratisbon as far as I understand by a letter from master Bucer, is suspended. I am more inclined to believe this, because Philip Melancthon is neither yet come to them, nor does he intend it. And Bucer, as far as I hear, is about to come to us sooner that I expected but as yet we have nothing certain; as soon as this shall be the case, I will inform your reverence forthwith, and you may expect a more copious letter whenever any new tidings shall require it. The count Palatinate has lately provided for the preaching of the gospel through his dominions: but as far as he relates to the eucharist he has descended, as the proverb has it, from the horse to the ass; for he has fallen from popery into the doctrine of Luther, who in that particular more erroneous than all the papists; and those who deny the substance of bread to remain in the sacrament, and substitute the body of Christ in its place, come more closely to the truth than those who affirm the natural body of Christ is with the bread, in the bread and under the form of bread, and yet occupies no place. God I hope will at length give him a better mind.”

What attracts our attention are Hooper's strong words about Luther’s understanding of the eucharist. Words that must have been written only just prior to Luther’s death.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bullinger and the writing of history

Bullinger was prolific in writing historical works, particularly about the Reformation in Switzerland up until the Kappel War. With reference to Bullinger’s Anklag, Bast noted that it “is utterly unselfconscious in its identification of the Swiss as the recipients of God’s covenant promises, more precious to him than the Jews; in it Swiss history becomes salvation history.” This was a way of highlighting the positive contributions of Zwingli. But precisely because Zwingli was such a controversial figure the publication of Bullinger’s Reformationsgeschichte was delayed. Detailed investigation of the Reformationsgeschichte by Moser revealed four constitutive elements of Bullinger’s historico-theological thinking that aid in the study of Bullingers works:

“1. History is understood essentially as covenant and salvation history, which has unfolded between God and humanity since the beginning of time and which reaches its culmination in Christ’s act of redemption and in his return at the end of time; 2. Biblical prophecy interprets the direction or periodization of history, especially church history; 3. History has a revelatory character –even if clearly subordinated to Scripture – and it serves as a source to make known God’s work and will; 4. Bullinger makes use of history in order to support his own argumentation as well as to expose and relativize false opinions in confessional confrontations.”