Bullinger and Islam

Perhaps the most well-informed Reformer on the religion of Islam was Heinrich Bullinger.  In 1567 he wrote a fairly long book titled Der Türgg : von Anfang und Ursprung dess türggischen Gloubens, der Türggen, ouch jrer Königen und Keyseren, und wie fürträffenlich vil Landen unnd Lüthen sy innet 266 Jaren yngenommen und der Christenheit abtrungen habind / kurtze Verzeichnuss durch Matthiam Erben zuo Rappoltzwyler &c. …

It exhibits an understanding of Islam relatively nuanced and more sensitive (if one might use such a word of a man who saw Islam as a heretical offshoot of Christianity and Judaism) than either Zwingli or Luther. It can be downloaded in pdf directly here.

It would be a good thing if theologians today exhibited the same sort of thorough knowledge of Islam that Bullinger managed in the 16th century.

Certainly we would be wrong to think Bullinger was sympathetic to Islam.  He definitely was not.  Indeed, he saw them in the same light, thanks to their violence, as he did the Munster Anabaptists (for whom he had no kind words).  But he could point to the good deeds of Muslims and he wasn’t afraid to compare them to the bad deeds of Christians (as a sort of cattle prod to Christians that they should surely do better than the Turks!).  For Bullinger the fact was that Islam rose because Christianity was weak and Christians were fighting among themselves for power and control.

In sum, for Bullinger, Islam was a foil off of which to provoke Christians to better living.