Today With Zwingli: The Reformed Faith

table.jpgToday marks the anniversary of the publication of AN ACCOUNT OF THE FAITH OF HULDRYCH ZWINGLI SUBMITTED TO THE GERMAN EMPEROR CHARLES V, AT THE DIET OF AUGSBURG. Here’s the story (as told by the editor of the English rendition of Zwingli’s Latin text) –

When Charles V. had concluded peace with the king of France and the Pope, he held, in the summer of 1530, the Diet of Augsburg, which was of fundamental importance for the Reformation in Germany. At this Diet a confession of faith, known as the “Augustana,” which had been written by Melanchthon and signed by the Protestant princes of Germany, was submitted to the emperor on June 25, 1530.

The feeling against the adherents of Reformed principles was so strong that neither the Catholics nor the Lutherans would have anything to do with them. On June 23, Bucer wrote to Zwingli: “Nothing more intolerant can be imagined than the hatred which the Lutherans have against us.” Hence the Reformed cities of South Germany were compelled to hand in a separate confession of faith. In the name of Strassburg, Constance, Memmingen and Lindau, Bucer and Capito drew up a confession, known as the “Tetrapolitana,” which was handed to the emperor on July 11th. Jacob Sturm had sent Zwingli a copy of the Augsburg Confession on May 31st, and he had expressed the hope that Zwingli would also submit to the emperor a confession and defense, in which he would “as piously as possible and without offending anybody give an account of his faith.”

The harsh condemnation of the Reformed faith by Melanchthon made such a statement seem even more necessary. On June 28th, Sturm repeated his suggestion and added: “Who knows but that in this way the emperor may be led to see the truth, which has been wrongly represented thus far by the Papists” (Zwingli’s Werke, VIII, 359, 469).

As there was no time to assemble the Protestant Cantons of Switzerland and as silence might be open to misconstruction, Zwingli was compelled to compose a confession in his own name, which he did in three days. He sent it to Augsburg by special messenger. It was handed to the emperor not by one of Zwingli’s friends, but by a most violent opponent, the provost of Waldkirch, who was then Bishop Designate of Constance (Zwingli’s Werke, VIII, 477). This was on July 8th, five days after it came from the press. About this event Bucer and Capito wrote to Strassburg, on July 12, 1530: “On the 8th day of July Zwingli’s manly confession of faith was handed to the emperor by a special messenger.” The Diet paid no attention to it, the emperor probably never read a line of it. The Lutherans belittled it, while John Eck, the Catholic theologian made it the occasion of a violent attack.

It’s a great read and a fine summary of Reformed doctrine written just north of a year before Zwingli’s untimely death.