Zwinglius Redivivus

My Annual Reminder: Today is ‘Luther’s Reformation Day’, Not Reformation Day

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‘Reformation Day’  Nope!’

‘The Reformation’ is a misnomer if ever there were one, for in fact there was no ‘one’ Reformation any more than there was just one Reformer. ‘The Reformation’, when used by students and the general public, usually refers to the Reformation of Martin Luther which commenced at the end of October in the year of our Lord, 1517.

Even then, though, Luther’s intent wasn’t as earth-shattering as later ages took it to be. For Luther, the placement of a series of theses in Latin on the Church Door at Wittenberg Castle was nothing more than an invitation to debate. In other words, Luther didn’t see his act as the commencement of a revolution; he saw it as an academic exercise.

‘The Reformation’ is, then, little more than a label derived from historical hindsight gazing mono-focularly at a series of events over a period of time across a wide geographical landscape. Each Reformer had roots sunk in fertile ground and their work was simply the coming to fruition of generations of shift in the Roman Catholic Church.

Hence, it would be more appropriate to speak of ‘Reformations’ in the same way that we now speak of ‘Judaisms’ and ‘Christianities’. The Reformation was no monolith.

Who, then were the Reformers who gave birth to the Reformations most closely associated with them? They were Huldrych Zwingli, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, in just that order.

In 1515 while he was Pastor of the village Church in Glarus, Huldrych Zwingli began to call into question the dependence of the Church on the teachings of the Scholastics. He also questioned the value of the Vulgate for preaching and began earnest study of the Greek New Testament. There, memorizing the letters of Paul (in Greek) he discovered the Gospel which would come to feature so prominently in his Reforming efforts: Salvation is by grace, through faith, and not through works as proclaimed by the Scholastic theologians. By 1519, when he moved to Zurich to become the Pastor of the Great Minster, Zwingli was already well on his way to Reforming the worship of the Church and the administration of the ‘Sacraments’. In short order, within a few years, the Mass was abandoned and replaced by the ‘Lord’s Supper’ and the fixation of the Church on images was denounced and those images removed in due course.

Zwingli’s Reformation was carried out with the cooperation of the City government, which is why Zwingli, along with Luther and Calvin, were to be known to history as ‘Magisterial Reformers’. Not because they were ‘Magisterial’ but because each had the support of their city’s magistrates.

North of Zurich, in Wittenberg, Luther’s Reformatory efforts were coming to full steam around the same time. In 1520 he broke with Rome irrevocably with the publication of his stunning ‘On The Babylonian Captivity of the Church’. From there, there was to be no turning back. And here we must remind ourselves that at this juncture Luther was not dependent on the work of Zwingli, nor was Zwingli dependent on the work of Luther. Both were pursuing reform along parallel tracks, separately.

Further to the West of Switzerland a decade later John Calvin, an exile from France, a lawyer by training and a theologian by training and desire, began his own efforts at Reform. Several years after Zwingli’s death and long after Luther’s demise Calvin plodded away in Geneva attempting manfully to bring that raucous city to heel under the power of the Gospel.

Each of these Reformers were ‘Fathers’ of their own Reformation. Each was, originally, independent of the other and in many ways they tried very hard to retain that independence even when their common foe, the Church of Rome, was the target as their common enemy. Each contributed to ‘The Reformation’ in their own unique way.

If, then, we wish to honor their memory and their efforts, it behooves us to set aside our preconceptions or our beliefs that ‘The Reformation’ began on October 31, 1517. It didn’t. It began in 1515 in Glarus. And it began in 1517 in Wittenberg. And it began in Geneva in 1536.

Happy Reformations Days.

Written by Jim

October 31, 2014 at 00:07

Posted in Church History

Happy Reformation Day!

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Or as I like to call it- Second Reformation Day Initiated by the Third Reformer, Luther, Who Wasn’t the First Reformer (That Was Zwingli, Already in 1515) or the Brightest Reformer (That Was Calvin).  But that’s an awfully long title and it hasn’t really caught on.  Though in order to be historically accurate, it should.

At any rate- Happy Day to all those children of the Reformers!




Written by Jim

October 31, 2014 at 00:05

Posted in Church History

Wow- That’s Really Offensive

with 3 comments

Written by Jim

October 30, 2014 at 19:15

Posted in Total Depravity is On Strike, Again

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Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht aren’t troubled though, they have a German company to deliver their volumes-

Bei Amazon wird wieder gestreikt.  Zeit also, auf unsere zuverlässige Verlagsauslieferung Brockhaus Commission hinzuweisen, die unsere Bücher (und natürlich auch viele andere) schnell und kompetent zum Kunden bringt. Und anders als bei Amazon hat man eine feste Ansprechpartnerin, die einem prima weiterhelfen kann. Vielen Dank dafür!

Amazon has just gotten too big for its britches.  What it is doing to authors and publishers is nothing more than extortion.  I’d rather pay a little more and support a company I can respect than get an Amazon discount and feel like a heel.

Written by Jim

October 30, 2014 at 19:10

Posted in Books, Publishers

Aussie Love

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But in these troubled times, who are we to say what love is????  [That's the argument, right?]

Jenna Louise Driscoll, 25, appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court yesterday charged with trafficking, possession of a dangerous drug, two counts of possession of an item used in the commission of a crime, three counts of supplying and a further three counts of bestiality.  Defence lawyer Rachel Cavalli asked for her client to be granted bail, which was not opposed.  Police prosecutor Sergeant Scott Pearson asked for reporting conditions that required Driscoll to report to police once a week and reside at a unit at Enoggera in Brisbane’s northwest.

Ick.  Ick.  You can call it love of animals but I just call it ick.  [And that name, Driscoll, it seems so familiar...]

Written by Jim

October 30, 2014 at 18:35

Posted in Total Depravity

New Carpet and Linoleum

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We’ve spent the last two days with the installation of carpet and linoleum and as those of you who have ever experienced such things know- it’s basically emptying the house to move and then moving back in.

So, the explanation for my slight engagement the last few days.  Rest assured, though, that by tomorrow I will return to my normal 5 a.m to 10 p.m. work schedule.

Have a happy evening.

Written by Jim

October 30, 2014 at 17:59

Posted in Modern Culture

»Die theologisch-akademische Welt blickt heute nach Emden«

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Die Emder Johannes a Lasco Bibliothek hat den ersten Schritt eines bedeutsamen Projektes zur Erforschung der weltweiten Kirchengeschichte gemacht. Sie stellte gestern (29.10.) den ersten Band einer kritischen Ausgabe der Akten und Dokumente der Synode von Dordrecht aus dem 17. Jahrhundert vor.

Von November 1618 bis Mai 1619 kamen im niederländischen Dordrecht bei Rotterdam Kirchenvertreter aus den Niederlanden und aus allen reformiert geprägten Regionen Europas zusammen. „Die Synode war ein kirchliches und politisches Ereignis mit Wirkung bis in die Gegenwart und hatte Bedeutung für die weltweite Kirchengeschichte“, so Hermann Selderhuis, Projektleiter und Herausgeber der Edition und Professor für Kirchengeschichte an der Universität Apeldoorn. Wenn das Projekt abgeschlossen sei, liege mit der Edition erstmals eine komplette Zusammenstellung aller Akten und Unterlagen dieses kirchengeschichtlich so bedeutsamen Ereignisses vor.

Etc.  It’s a great report- on a great project.


Written by Jim

October 30, 2014 at 11:16

Posted in Church History


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