Category Archives: Bullinger

Nüwe Zyttungen

This just arrived from Zurich thanks to Reinhard Bodenmann and the other lovely folk there at the University in the Department of Theology.  It’s from a new exhibit on the letters of Bullinger.  And it’s wonderful!

It’s a treasure trove, just like Bullinger’s correspondence.  Now, to enjoy it.

Mission Zwingli: Bullinger’s Letters

Nüwe Zyttungen: Von schlurfenden Pfaffen, Wundern und anderen Zeichen. Der Briefwechsel des Reformators Heinrich Bullinger

Der Reformator Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575), Nachfolger Huldrych Zwinglis, hat über 12 000 Briefe erhalten und geschrieben. Diese Korrespondenz ist mehr als privater oder seelsorgerischer Austausch: Als Medium für Nachrichtenübermittlung, internationale Kirchenpolitik und theologische Debatten zeichnet sie ein vielschichtiges Bild ihrer Zeit. Während die Briefe die krisenhaften internationalen Ereignisse abbilden, geben sie gleichzeitig Aufschluss über die Kommunikationsstrategien der Reformatoren nach Zwinglis Tod. Meldungen über Kriegsgeschehen, Wunderzeichen oder Naturkatastrophen, polemische Schriften, Flugblätter, Schmählieder und Gerüchte erreichen Zürich, werden im Streit der Konfessionen widerlegt, geahndet oder weiterverbreitet.
Dieses Buch erscheint anlässlich des Jubiläums 500 Jahre Zürcher Reformation und begleitet eine Ausstellung an der Universität Zürich. Die ausgewählten Briefzitate und Bilder geben Einblick in ein beispielhaftes frühneuzeitliches Kommunikationsnetzwerk. Ergänzt werden die Auszüge durch einordnende Interviews mit Spezialisten, die den Kontext und die medientheoretische Aktualität aufzeigen.

Get yourself one!

Bullinger for Today

They serve God … who by faith and obedience gather themselves into the holy assembly at specified times; who keep the ecclesiastical discipline derived out of the word of God; who hear the word of God, or the holy exposition of the sacred scriptures; who pray publicly with the church; who religiously participate in the sacraments; and observe other lawful and wholesome rites or ceremonies. By this their service they glorify God among men… 

Truce-breakers are they, disloyal, and infamous through their adultery, whosoever, being not knit to one God by faith, or worship him alone, or call upon him through Christ, and who do not serve him also as he himself hath said in his word he would be served. — Heinrich Bullinger

Bullinger to Myconius- 18 April, 1534

At the end of a letter that Bullinger composed on the 18th of April, 1534, he remarks of Luther:

De Lutheri impudentia nuper libellis quibusdam de privata missa et in Erasmum scriptis (15) vehementer doleo. Video enim hunc hominem ecclesiae dei plus incommodaturum, quam profuerit unquam. Interim vero hunc omnibus in Europa doctis in evangelio praeferre non cessat Bucerus (16),miror, quo consilio. Oecolampadium, virum sanctissimum illum, praedecessore tuum, in istis furiosis rixis palam praedicat a sathana strangulatum periisse. Vide, quid monachus iste audeat. Erasmum prorsum Arrianis adnumerat (17) et convitiorum atque calumniarum plaustra in senem illum et de ecclesia et literis optime meritum effundit (18). Vide, obsecro, quantis in periculis versetur ecclesia, quantis quaciatur persequtionum et tentationum procellis. Dominus conservet nos in veritate (19). Iterum vale.

Luther could be a jerk.  Everyone knew it.  Even Luther.

________________
15 Es handelt sich um Luthers «Von der Winkelmesse und Pfaffenweihe» 1533 (WA XXXVIII 171-256) und seinen Brief an Nikolaus von Amsdorf, um den 11. März 1534 (WA, Briefe VII 27-40), vgl. auch Anm. 17f.

16 Bucer verteidigte Luther in diesem Zusammenhang Bullinger gegenüber bereits am 9. April 1534, s. oben S. 121f, 15-46.

17 In der erwähnten Lutherschrift «Von der Winkelmesse und Pfaffenweihe» 1533 (WA XXXVIII 204, 26-28).

18 Erasmus von Luther als Arianer dargestellt: WA, Briefe VII 33,206-39,415; vgl. oben S. 109, Anm. 8.

19 Vgl. Joh 17, 17.

Heinrich Bullinger: On the Sub-Christian Nature of Polygamy and the Nature of Marriage

450px-Zwingli_und_BullingerBullinger writes

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.

Bullinger: On Rebellion

bullingerTo reject and overwhelm [the guidance of the Holy Spirit] with stubborn falsehood, flat apostasy, wicked contradiction, and perpetual contempt, is flatly to commit [the] sin against the Holy Spirit. And this truly takes its point of departure from original sin, and is nourished and set forward by devilish suggestions, perverse affections, by indignations, envy, hope or fear, by stubborn and self-wilful malice, and lastly by contumacy and rebellion. — Heinrich Bullinger

Bullinger on the Pastoral Task

We therefore, the interpreters of God’s holy word, and faithful ministers of the church of Christ, must have a diligent regard to keep the scriptures sound and perfect, and to teach the people of Christ the word of God sincerely; made plain, I mean, and not corrupted or darkened by foolish and wrong expositions of our own invention.   — Heinrich Bullinger

Fun Facts From Church History: The Confession Of Bullinger’s Father

bullinger93In 1529…

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).

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*Bullinger, H. (1852). The Decades of Henry Bullinger: The Fifth Decade (T. Harding, Ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hooper in Zurich

bullinger32Did you know that it was on this date in 1547 that John Hooper visited Bullinger in Zurich?

In his extant diary Bullinger has marked March 29, 1547, as the day when Hooper and his wife, in their exile, accomplished their long-cherished desire of visiting him [Bullinger]; and March 24, 1549, when they left him for England with their daughter Rachel, his god-child.

So Thomas Harding.

Bullinger: The Providence of God in a Nutshell

Job being well instructed did not say, as we now are wont to say, The Lord gave, and the devil hath taken away; but, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.” And these things do exceedingly comfort the godly in temptations; who understand that nothing can happen to them without God’s permission, and that he permitteth nothing but that which maketh for our amendment and salvation, and therefore that we are always preserved by the providence and bountifulness of God. For whatsoever hath hitherto been spoken concerning the power and workings of the devils pertained not hitherto, to dash us out of courage and cast us down; but to make us more vigilant or watchful. The Lord, that overcame the devil and sheweth us the way to overcome him, commandeth us to watch. For therefore he encountered with Satan the first, second, and third time, to instruct us how we should fight against the enemy of mankind. He overcame him for us, that we should not despair of ability and power easily to overcome him, since he is already weakened and wounded. By faith, doubtless, we shall overcome him: for by faith we are knit unto Christ, and by faith we draw the Spirit of Christ, by the force and virtue whereof we shall triumph. (The Decades of H. Bullinger, Decade Four).

Evil Leaders

If therefore in the magistrate evil be found, and not the good for which he was ordained, that cometh of other causes, and the fault thereof is in the men and persons, which neglect God and corrupt the ordinance of God, and not in God, nor in his ordinance: for either the evil prince, seduced by the devil, corrupteth the ways of God, and by his own fault and naughtiness transgresseth God’s ordinance, so far, that he doth worthily deserve the name of devilish power, and not divine authority. — Heinrich Bullinger

Today in Church History: The Publication of the Second Helvetic Confession

Schaff remarks

second helvetic[The Second Helvetic Confession, written by Bullinger] was published at Zuerich, March 12, 1566, in both [German and Latin], at public expense, and was forwarded to the Elector of the Palatinate and to Philip of Hesse. A French translation appeared soon afterwards in Geneva under the care of Beza.

Happy birthday to the greatest of the Swiss Confessions.

From the Archives of Zwingliana: Bullinger on the Last Judgment

Bruce Gordon’s «Welcher nit gloubt der ist schon verdampt »: Heinrich Bullinger and the Spirituality of the Last Judgement was first published in Zwingliana in 2004. It’s another one of the many, many essays in Zwingliana that inform and educate.

The Love of God

With that which we call the love of God, we love God entirely well; we cleave to God as the only, chief, and eternal goodness; in him we do delight ourselves and are well pleased; and frame ourselves to his will and pleasure, having evermore a regard and desire of him that we love.  — Heinrich Bullinger

Bullinger: Dispensing the Truth

bullinger90The belly being full, either no prayers at all, or else fat and unwieldy prayers, are made.  — Heinrich Bullinger

Quote of the Day

bullinger90Bistu aber ein warer Christ, das ist ein gesalbeter gottes, so hastu schon die kundschafft gott des heiligen geistes in dinem hertzen, der da zügnus gibt dem usseren wort gottes, das dich wenig der welt schmach reden yrrend; wann was lyt dir daran, wie die welt kätzery, so du des gwüßlichen im hertzen durch glouben unnd heiligen geist bericht bist, das im nit anders gesin mag, unnd ob glich alle welt darwider toubte? Besich die 1. Epistel loannis im ußgang des 2. capitels von diser salbung unnd kuntschafft [2,27].

So aber du dise kuntschafft im hertzen hast, das ist so du ein warer Christ bist, wie gibst dann dinem gott nit kundtschafft, oder wie kanstu den geist gottes in dir erstecken? Oder, so dem allem nüt, weißt dann nit, das dine underthonen tempel sind des heiligen geistes, unnd demnach, das gott alle die schenden wirt, so sinen tempel verunheiligend? – Heinrich Bullinger

Well That’s It Then

Free remission of sins is preached to all countries and kingdoms. All the faithful in every nation under heaven are through Christ received into the grace and favour of God the Father. All have received in great abundance the gift of the Holy Ghost. All have prophesied. All have known the Lord. — Heinrich Bullinger

Enacting Measures Against Usury

On the 14th of February, in the year 1568, Heinrich Bullinger stood before the assembled legislators and denounced the extreme poverty resulting in Zurich and the surrounding villages in the Canton because of excessive interest rates being charged the poorest of the poor.

The Massnahmen Gegen den Wucher addressed the pressing issues of high unemployment and high interest rates- and Bullinger demanded that the government do something to reign in the usurers.

Theologians today, incredibly silent on the issues which troubled Bullinger and his colleagues in Zurich, would do well to read this tractate.    It’s perfectly applicable, theologically, to today and to our corrupt bankers and weak, cowering, fearful government.

Fun Facts From Church History: Climate Change in Bullinger’s Zurich

Joe Mock writes

bullinger90There was a mini ice age in the middle of the 16th century. Bullinger wrote about it in his Diarium. The mini ice age was so severe that Bullinger considered that it was the judgment of God.

Otto Ulbricht has written “Extreme Wetterlagen im Diarium Heinrich Bullinger” which is to be found in Wolfgang Behringer, Hartman Lehmann dan Christian Pfister (eds), Kulurelle Konsequenzer der kleinen Eiszeit, pp 147-175.

The following is a citation from the summary of the article:

“When looking closely at Bullinger’s diary, it becomes clear that he not only sensed the climatic change beginning in the early 1560’s (coldness, frost, hail frozen over lakes, floods), but he also described it as unique and sometimes even as a breakdown of the natural order of things. Adjectives he applied to characterize these changes have strong (and negative) emotional connotations. The extreme weather conditions – sometimes joined by famine – became the most important expression of God’s wrath in his thinking, thus displacing war and pestilence as secondary.

According to Bullinger, the main reason for God’s scorn was heavy drinking. Therefore, he and his colleagues tried to extend mandates against it to leading and secular authorities in Zurich. Religious reasons also played a role in keeping interest rates down throughout the famine of 1570/71. During this crisis, there was a major change in the liturgy through the introduction of common public prayer.”

I like it.  Climate change isn’t caused by fossil fuels, it’s caused by boozers!  Thank you Heinrich!  Thanks, Joe.

UPDATE:  Christian Pfister’s essay from the book mentioned above is available here.