Archive for the ‘Bullinger’ Category
From Emmerich Bullinger was removed to the university of Cologne; and entered July 8, 1519, at the college Bursæ-Montis. There the works of the school-divines, and chiefly of Peter Lombard and Gratian, soon engrossed his attention; and, in the providence of God, were converted into instruments for detaching him from the religion of Rome.
For in this course of reading meeting with frequent extracts from the fathers, he felt an earnest desire quickened within him to peruse their entire writings.
Accordingly, he solicited and obtained admission to a well-stored library of the Dominicans; and there studied with intense ardour several treatises of Chrysostom, Ambrose, Origen, and Augustine. Simultaneously the earlier tracts of Luther, especially his “Babylonish Captivity” and treatise “On Christian Liberty,” with the “Loci Communes” of Melancthon, came into his hands. He procured for himself also a copy of the New Testament, and devoted days and nights to the perusal of it, with the aid of the Commentaries of Jerome.
The result of these pursuits was, that Bullinger’s mind and heart opened gradually to the knowledge and reception of the gospel in its purity.*
Like the majority of Reformers, including Luther, the transition from Roman Catholic to Reformed / Lutheran wasn’t anything but a gradual progression. An evolution, if you will, of spiritual growth from theological infancy to theological maturity. For Bullinger, that full maturity only came after his encounter with Zwingli.
*The Decades of Henry Bullinger: The Fifth Decade. (T. Harding, Ed.) (p. viii). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Whenever one thinks of the Swiss branch of the Reformation, one usually thinks of Ulrich Zwingli as the pivotal figure. But like the conquering King David, it was not Zwingli’s lot to build God’s house. That calling came to Zwingli’s disciple and successor, Henry Bullinger. Like Solomon in Israel, Henry would expand the borders of the kingdom throughout Europe: consolidating, organizing, and shepherding the flock so newly in the reformed fold.
Heinrich Bullinger enjoyed his four hundred and ninety-second birthday this past July 18. Born in 1504 in Bremgarten, a small town about ten miles west of Zurich, young Henry was raised and trained for the priesthood. His father, a priest himself (who paid the regional bishop a yearly tribute for the privilege of keeping a wife contrary to the dogma of the Church), was a firm but loving man of modest means who loved his God more than himself. He passed his attitude on to his son, who diligently studied the fathers in preparation for teaching in a monastery. Henry’s university work in Cologne put him in contact with the works of Erasmus, Luther, and Melancthon, which in turn led him directly to the Scriptures. The seed fell into fertile ground.
You can read the whole piece here. I mention it today because today is the anniversary of Bullinger’s election to the Pastorate at Bremgarten – 17 May, 1529. Readers will recall that it was 16 May of that year that Bullinger first preached at Bremgarten. They must have really liked him. But he would only serve the Church there for a couple of years. After Zwingli was viciously murdered, dismembered, and burnt to ash by the Papists at Kappel, Bullinger was called to the Great Minster of Zurich where he would remain the rest of his very, very long life.
First, today marks the anniversary of the first sermon preached by Heinrich Bullinger, on the 16th of May, 1529, at Bremgarten. He never could have imagined that he would occupy the greatest pulpit of the Reformation only 2 years later. Second, it was on the 16th of May in 1925 that Emil Brunner received a Doctorate of Theology (ThD). No theologian aside from Zwingli before or since has ever surpassed the greatness of Brunner. Third, the greatest English speaking expert on Zwingli and his theology, W.P. Stephens, was born on 16 May, 1934. And fourth, Huldrych Zwingli published his Eine göttliche Vermahnung an die Eidgenossen zu Schwyz:
Gnedigen, lieben herren, amman, rat und gmeind zuo Schwytz. Üwer ersam wyßheit möchte wunderen, wannen mir diser frävel keme, daß ich mich dörste undernemmen ein gantz land ze leren. Das aber warlich in der meinung nit geschicht, sunder als der wyß Salomon spricht: Gib dem wysen ein anzug, so würt er noch wyser [Prov. 9. 9], hatt mich not duocht, üch min meinung anzeygen, damit ir ab einem muster oder byspil üch noch flyßlicher berietind, dann in einem trurigen infal unnd schaden (als leyder üch ietzund beschehen, got welle üch leydes ergetzen und fürer verhueten. Amen.) ist nit ein ietlicher wol by im selbs das allerbest ze treffen.
It’s a big day theologically! You can celebrate all three because they all have published some of the best stuff you’ll ever read.
Most folk would agree that primary sources are incredibly important for biblical and historical studies. That case need not be made here. I would simply like to illustrate the fact with a letter sent on 6 May 1541 which opens the window on history in a way that secondary sources never can, or could. The source is the online archive of Heinrich Bullinger’s letters- where hours and hours of delightful reading can be found:
Reading such jewels allow researchers access to a world of thought. Ad Fontes! This goes for the Bible and historical documents. Don’t read ‘about’ someone until you read someone.
From the Post Reformation Digital Library-
Somewhat old news, but anyone with an interest in e.g. Theodore Beza, Johannes Bogerman, Hugo Grotius, Sibrandus Lubbertus, Heinrich Bullinger, Gisbertus Voetius, Johannes Uytenbogaert, … should check out the ca. 300 letters digitized from the Free University Amsterdam’s Special Collections!
Heinrich Bullinger’s book, On the Prophetic Office, was published 28 January, 1532. Composed just months after the death of Zwingli, the book kicked off Bullinger’s massive literary production as new Pastor of the Great Minster in Zurich. The book’s aim was to stabilize the Reformation in the city and canton and reaffirm Bullinger’s own commitment to that movement.
It is a fantastic literary work. Beautifully written in the most pastoral tone, it guides Pastors who adhere to the Reformation in faith and practice. What is a Prophet (and in Bullinger, and Zwingli, this also meant pastor)? What is his task? What are his tools? What is his methodology? How are erroneous teachings to be dealt with?
All of these questions are addressed. (And, by the way, there’s a lovely modern German translation in this 7 volume edition published by TVZ, volume 1).
There’s also a fantastic essay in Peter Opitz’s edited volume ‘The Myth of the Reformation’, which addresses exactly the question of Bullinger’s view of the Pastoral Office:
We therefore, the interpreters of God’s holy word, and faithful ministers of the church of Christ, must have a diligent regard to keep the scriptures sound and perfect, and to teach the people of Christ the word of God sincerely; made plain, I mean, and not corrupted or darkened by foolish and wrong expositions of our own invention. — Heinrich Bullinger
The Lord mislikes the yawning mouth and folded arms, the signs of sleep, which commonly follow the careless man, who doth neglect the state and condition of his house and family. But on the other side, the scripture commendeth highly faithful labourers, and good and painful people in work. Let us hear, I beseech you, the golden words of Solomon, the wisest among all men; who, where he blameth sluggards, saith: “Go to the emmet, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and learn to be wise. She hath no guide, nor overseer, nor ruler; and yet in the summer she provideth her meat, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, thou sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yea, sleep on still a little, slumber a little, fold thine hands together yet a little, and take thine ease: and in the meanwhile shall poverty come upon thee like a traveller, and necessity like a weaponed man.”*
*H. Bullinger, The Decades of Henry Bullinger: The Third Decade. (T. Harding, Ed.) (pp. 32–33).