Today With Zwingli

The disputation at Baden was the Old Church’s reply to the Zurich disputations of 1523. The conditions were exactly reversed. The friends of the Reformation packed the former, the opponents of it the latter. The immediate occasion of it was John Eck’s offer from Ingolstadt to the Swiss Diet at Baden, on August 13, 1524, to refute Zwingli’s heresies in a public disputation.

The challenge was communicated to Zwingli, and he replied to this on August 31st, in the insulting language he thought proper to use towards his Roman Catholic opponents1, offering to debate with Eck in Zurich. Eck replied very dignifiedly that he would meet Zwingli at Baden or Luzern, provided he had proper safe conduct.

He shows much better spirit than Zwingli2. The letter having been sent to the Zurich authorities, Zwingli replied that he would dispute in Zurich, and his reply appeared in print. And on the same day, November 6, 1524, the Great Council invited Eck to Zurich and sent him a safe conduct. But he declined to come, simply because the place for the proposed disputation was to be decided by the cantonal assembly and he would meet Zwingli there. On November 18th he replied at length to Zwingli’s latest attack.*

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1Here’s the letter in question, which begins “En tibi, audacissime homo, repercussionem non hercle te, sed nobis dignam! Tu enim merebaris, ut, quicquid usquam est contumeliarum, scommatum, laedoriarum, in te iaceretur, nisi nos decuisset has artes tuas contemnere potius, quam pro dignitate referire. Nam quę porro est insania, ut te induci patiaris, ut ad Helvetios de nobis scribas tam impudenter tamque tum impure tum nequiter? An putas obscurum esse, quibus impulsoribus id feceris et in quem usum? Tune tam foeliciter unquam in hac arenade pugnasti, ut victor abieris? quamvis quid refert, etiam si victor abeas? An propterea veritas non est veritas, an verbum dei vim et ingenium suum mutabit, quod tu quemquam clamosa ista loquacitate tua obruas?”

2Jackson is being a bit anachronistic here. Methods of argumentation and debate were different in the 16th century and the people of that day should be judged by the standards of their time and not ours

*Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (pp. 270–271).