De convitiis Eckii: Zwingli Drops the Hammer on Johannes Eck

Huldrych Zwingli and Johannes Eck didn’t get along.  Obviously.  So when Zwingli published his ‘Reasonable Faith‘ Eck couldn’t control himself.  He had to lash out.  The present booklet, Zwingli’s response to Eck’s response to Fidei ratio lets Mr Eck have it both barrels (as we say down here).  De convitiis Eckii is addressed, however, not TO Eck but to the the German Princes at Augsburg.

Illustrissimis Germaniae principibus in comitiis Augustanis
congregatis Huldrychus Zuinglius gratiam
et pacem optat a deo patre
et Jesu Christo, filio eius, redemptore nostro.

As Zwingli proceeds it becomes apparent that he has clearly grown annoyed and asserts quite straightforwardly that Eck is nothing more than a heretic and that he, like all heretics, state their errors as though they were truths.

Not that Zwingli knew that Eck had attacked him again.  If it hadn’t been for Vadian’s passing along Eck’s rubbish Zwingli would have paid him no mind.   But Vadian urged him to respond, for the sake of the Germans.  And so he, as a ‘second David’ went out to the Philistine Eck with sling and stones to slay him.

Zwingli’s work lays Eck’s motives bare: he wishes to deceive the Princes and under the guise of ‘peace’ he urges them to remain in the Roman camp.  Zwingli counters that the Princes should in fact embrace Reform.  He concludes

Dangers threaten on all sides, but the Lord will dissipate them all, if you lay hold of the truth and of righteousness.  To take a stand against the truth is destruction itself whereas to yield to it is the first necessity of safety.  God Almighty grant that we may revere it and see it through a glass in this world but see it face to face and embrace it in the world to come!

Further information about this episode can be found in Hans Georg Rott’s Martin Brucer und die Schweiz: Drei unbekannte Briefe von Zwingli, Brucer und Vadian (1530, 1531, 1536) (Zwingliana, 14/9 (1978).

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