Sunday, September 1, 2013


Peter Opitz’ Habilitationsschrift “Heinrich Bullinger as Theologe” has an important section on justification, sanctification and communion with Christ in Bullinger’s The Decades. Here is one quote from page 262.

“Die Rechtfertigungslehre wird in einen gesamtbiblisch-heilsgeschichtlichen-Horizont des göttlichen Heilshandelns eingezeichnet.”

Thursday, April 4, 2013


At about the time of the coronation of Charles V which took place on 22 October 1520 there appeared an anonymous pamphlet entitled “Advice of one who with his whole heart that due consideration be paid both to the dignity of the pope and to the peaceful development of the Christian religion.” This pamphlet has an appendix: “A defence of Martin Luther by Christ our Lord addressed to the city of Rome.”

Samuel Macauley Jackson writes of this: “Although at first sight it seems highly improbably that Zwingli had anything to do with the pamphlet, as it is not at all in hi style, yet all doubt vanishes before the fact that the draft of it in Zwingli’s handwriting is to be seen today in the Zurich cantonal archives. It treats Luther in a kindly, condescending way, and advises that an impartial commission go through his books and examine him orally, and then pass final judgment on him” (Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland 1484-1531, p155).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Zwingli and the Kappel Wars

Despite what is commonly believed, Zwingli was actually reluctant to be part of the 2nd Kappel War where he lost his life. It is misleading to say of him, “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword” as he was the chaplain on the battle field and not armed for battle.

The following are some extracts from Oswald Myconius written in 1532.

“He (Zwingli) therefore took part in the two civil wars, each of which is named the Cappel War from the monastery called the Chapel. To the first he went of his own motion, so that he might be present at the deliberations lest anything might occur contrary to what was true and right. Most happily things fell out and it was concluded without bloodshed. About it he often related to me that in it he had encountered more malice and perverse counsel that he had encountered in his whole life he had learned from experience of from books. In the second war he was elected chaplain, and although he told himself as well As others that he would not go, nevertheless he went. His divining mind saw what the future had in store. The cause of war never met his approval, ie the cutting off of provisions (from the Forest Cantons), for he knew what kind of counsel famine gives. Albeit, to speak frankly, after this plan (to cut off provisions) had been once accepted by the reluctant Zurichers (for others whom we know well had taken it up in no bad spirit since they thought by consultation and discussion a way would be found meanwhile for pacificatory measures even though the Zurichers had preferred a war), Zwingli was not pleased, since he feared that a change would only bring them into greater contempt with their adversaries, although he did not so strenuously oppose it.

Also within fourteen days before his departure he said from the pulpit in my hearing, amid the general excitement, ‘I know, I know what all this means. It means my death, everything is done to put me out of the way…..

As, then, I saw them going out in the morning, so at night I heard the news, - the fight had been sharp yet unsuccessful, and our Zwingli had perished. It was reported that three times he had in the shock of arms been prostrated, but each time he had struggled to his feet; a fourth time he was struck under the chin by a spear, and, fallen upon his knees, said, ‘What evil is there in this? They are able, it is true, to kill the body but not the soul.’ And having so spoken he fell asleep presently in the Lord. After the defeat, during the leisure given to the enemy (for our soldiers had retired into a well guarded place) the body of Zwingli was sought for (and who told them so quickly that he had been present in the battle or had fallen?), was found, tried and condemned, cut into four parts, thrown into the fire, reduced to ashes. The enemy having retired after the third day, friends of Zwingli went to see if they could perchance find any remains of him, and lo! (strange to say) his heart presented itself from the midst of the ashes whole and uninjured. The good men were astounded, recognising the miracle indeed, but not understanding it. Wherefore, attributing everything to God, they rejoiced because this supernatural fact had made more sure the sincerity of the heart. A man whom I knew very well, in fact very intimately, came to me shortly afterwards asking whether I desired to see a portion of Zwingli’s heart which he carried with him in a casket. Because a sort of horror on account of this sudden remark pervaded my whole body I declined. Otherwise, I could have been an eye-witness of this thing also.”

Samuel Macauley Jackson “Ulrich Zwingli: Early Writings” (1999),pp21-23

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Zwingli and divine accommodation

Most are aware of what Calvin wrote about divine accommodation:

“For who even of slight intelligence does not understand that, as nurses commonly do with infants, god is wont in a measure to ‘lisp’ in speaking to us? Thus such forms of speaking do not so much express clearly what God is like as accommodate the knowledge of him to our slight capacity. To do this he must descend far beneath his loftiness.” (Institutes I.13.1)
Where did Calvin get this idea from? Huijgen suggests from Erasmus – “Divine Accommodation” p123.

But what about this quote from Zwingli from his “Friendly Exegesis” sent to Luther in 1527? He is trying to get Luther to understand the use of tropes and other figures of speech in Scripture

“But before I undertake the explanation of the words of the Lord, I shall have to say a few words upon the collation of the Scriptures, namely, that after the human tongue began, by means of tropes and figures and varieties of expression, to season its speech with sweet smelling spices, or paint it with varying hues, as it were, then the divine Goodness (which everywhere babbles to us like parents to their infants, and uses our own language), condescended in talking with us, to use our own tropes and figures.” H Wayne Pipkin “Huldrych Zwingli Writings” Vol 2, p350

Antequam autem ad verborum domini expositionem accedamus, paucula nobis de scripturarum collatione praemittenda erunt; ista videlicet, quod posteaquam humanum os coepit tropis, figuris ac locutionibus orationem veluti odoribus aut pigmentis condere et variegare, divinam quoque bonitatem (quae ubique parentum instar nobiscum balbutit linguaque nostra loquitur) huc sese demisisse, ut et ipsa nobiscum loquens tropis ac schęmatismis nostris uteretur.

(Amica Exegesis, id est: expositio eucharistiae negocii ad Martinum Lutherum

8. Februar 1527
Huldreich Zwinglis sämtliche Werke, vol. 5 (Leipzig: Heinsius, 1934) (Corpus Reformatorum 92))