Thanks to the kindness of IVP Academic for sending along a copy of this handy little volume. I like it very much. For the most part.
Beginning to study Reformed theology is like stepping into a family conversation that has been going on for five hundred years. How do you find your bearings and figure out how to take part in this conversation without embarrassing yourself?
The Pocket Dictionary of the Reformed Tradition takes on this rich, boisterous and varied tradition in its broad contours, filling you in on its common affirmations as well as its family tensions.
As you would expect, I turned first to the entry on Zwingli which was 99% right on the money. It errs in one major aspect, though, when it asserts that
It was at the Battle of Kappel, while leading Zurich’s troops against Catholic armies, that Zwingli was killed in October 1531 (p. 132).
Zwingli was in no sense ‘leading Zurich’s troops’. He was neither combatant nor commander. Rather, as the Pastor of the largest and most important Church in the city, he was duty-bound to attend the battle and offer spiritual comfort and guidance to the men of the city who had been summoned to defend it.
And second, to be precise, it was at the Second Battle of Kappel that Zwingli was killed. The First Kappel War had been conducted a couple of years earlier and ended in a rather tenuous and unsustainable truce.
Other entries in the dictionary are incredibly useful while being incredibly brief. Interestingly, Zwingli gets more space than does the entry on ‘election’. But Luther gets more space than Zwingli. And almost as much as Calvin. Luther can’t really be classified as a member of the ‘Reformed Tradition’ so it’s rather odd that he’s both included and that he receives – in comparison to other actually Reformed concepts and theologians- a lot of discussion.
Thankfully Brunner gets treatment equal to Barth (which is, frankly, quite refreshing). All in all, I have to say, that this is a very useful little volume and I’m happy to pass along mention of it here, as I think others will find it interesting as well.
On the 27th of April, 1535, Heinrich Bullinger’s aptly titled Bericht der krancken, Wie man by den krancken vnd sterbende[n] menschen handlen, ouch wie sich ein yeder inn siner kranckheit schicken vnnd zum sterben rüsten sölle appeared thanks to the Zurich publisher Froschauer.
TVZ have published this book, along with lots of Bullinger’s most important works, in their 7 volume Heinrich Bullinger: Schriften, in modern German.
The book at hand gives detailed advice on ministry to the sick and dying. It’s profoundly pastoral and even still very engaging.
… we shall have no lasting Church unless that ancient apostolic discipline be completely restored, which in many respects is much needed among us. We have not yet been able to obtain, that the faithful and holy exercise of ecclesiastical excommunication be rescued from the oblivion into which it has fallen…
Things haven’t changed…
It is expressly written: “Thou art not a God who delights in wickedness. Thou hatest all evildoers. Thou destroyest those who speak lies” (Ps. 5:4 ff.). And again: “When the devil lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
Moreover, there is enough sinfulness and corruption in us that it is not necessary for God to infuse into us a new or still greater perversity.
When, therefore, it is said in Scripture that God hardens, blinds and delivers up to a reprobate mind, it is to be understood that God does it by a just judgment as a just Judge and Avenger. Finally, as often as God in Scripture is said or seems to do something evil, it is not thereby said that man does not do evil, but that God permits it and does not prevent it, according to his just judgment, who could prevent it if he wished, or because he turns man’s evil into good, as he did in the case of the sin of Joseph’s brethren, or because he governs sins lest they break out and rage more than is appropriate.
Not all that are reckoned in the number of the Church are saints, and living and true members of the Church. For there are many hypocrites, who outwardly hear the Word of God, and publicly receive the sacraments, and seem to pray to God through Christ alone, to confess Christ to be their only righteousness, and to worship God, and to exercise the duties of charity, and for a time to endure with patience in misfortune. And yet they are inwardly destitute of true illumination of the Spirit, of faith and sincerity of heart, and of perseverance to the end.
But eventually the character of these men, for the most part, will be disclosed. For the apostle John says: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would indeed have continued with us” (I John 2:19). And although while they simulate piety they are not of the Church, yet they are considered to be in the Church, just as traitors in a state are numbered among its citizens before they are discovered; and as the tares or darnel and chaff are found among the wheat, and as swellings and tumors are found in a sound body.
And therefore the Church of God is rightly compared to a net which catches fish of all kinds, and to a field, in which both wheat and tares are found (Matt. 13:24 ff., 47 ff.). – Heinrich Bullinger, The Second Helvetic Confession
But it is not appropriate that in lawful matrimony any more should be than two alone, to be joined together under one yoke of wedlock.
For the use of many wives, which our fathers usurped without any blame, may not stablish polygamy for a law among us at these days. The time of correction is now come to light, and Messiah now is come into the world, who teacheth all rightly, and reformeth things amiss.
He therefore hath reduced wedlock to the first prescribed rule and law of matrimony. “Two,” saith the Lord, “shall be one flesh.” And the apostle saith: “Let every man have his own wife, and every woman her own husband.”
The multitude of Solomon’s concubines therefore appertain not to us. We have not to follow the example of Jacob, who married two sisters.
For Christians, even marriage takes its cue from Christ and not from culture. For Christians, marriage consists of the joining together of one man and one woman. Period.
But what about divorce? Bullinger, along with the rest of the Reformers, frowned on it, though they saw it as a concession to the weakness of many. Still, the divorced were not free to remarry. Period.
But what if the spouse dies? Bullinger writes
And yet, notwithstanding, the word of truth condemneth not the second, third, or many marriages which a man maketh, when his wife is deceased.
Marriage, for Christians, means something more than it does for the larger society. The culture may root like pigs in the trough but Christians are called to a better, less porcine, life.
The Instituts für Schweizerische Reformationsgeschichte blog announces
Kommentare zu den neutestamentlichen Briefen
Röm – 1Kor – 2Korhg. von Luca Baschera-Heinrich Bullinger Werke III/6
726 Seiten, 17.0 x 24.4 cm, Leinen mit SU
Here- and very much worth reading. He observes
Bullinger, der als Nachfolger des früh gefallenen Zwingli Calvin elf Jahre überlebte, war zuletzt eine Art Patriarch des europäischen Protestantismus. Die Ehe ist für ihn, der zusammen mit Anna Adlischwyler elf Kinder hatte, die einzige menschliche Einrichtung, die schon im Paradies bestanden hat, und mit Paulus ist sie die wirksamste Abhilfe gegen Unzucht. Der Mann sei das Haupt der Familie, wie Christus das Haupt der Kirche ist – Aufopferung inklusive. Klare Vorstellungen hatte er zur Rollenteilung:
«Was ausserhalb des Hauses ausgeführt werden muss, wie reisen, dem Erwerb nachgehen und Geschäfte erledigen, kaufen und verkaufen und dergleichen rechtmässige Dinge, ist die Aufgabe des Mannes. Er soll wie ein fleissiger Vogel hin und her fliegen, die Nahrung und die notwendigen Dinge sammeln und unermüdlich zum Nest tragen. Alles, was auf diese Weise ins Haus gebracht wird, soll die Frau sammeln und versorgen, nichts verderben lassen und alles, was im Haus zu tun ist, unermüdlich und unverzagt erledigen.»
In February of this year Bullinger’s father had publicly proclaimed at Bremgarten his conviction, that he had hitherto, in the time of darkness, misled his parishioners; but that now he would endeavour to guide them in the right way of life, out of holy scripture alone, and through Jesus Christ, our only Saviour.* He died at Zurich, April 8, 1533, aged 64 years.
Heinrich Bullinger’s father (also named Heinrich) was, of course, a priest who, like many priests of the 16th century, had de facto wives as well as several children. But when his son convinced him of the truth of the Evangelical faith, he saw the error of his theological ways and adopte Reformed theology (as mediated by Heinrich from Zwingli).
*Bullinger, H. (1852). The Decades of Henry Bullinger: The Fifth Decade (T. Harding, Ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.