Category Archives: 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.

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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.

A Bit of Bullinger

Godly ministers and faithful pastors shall be vexed with all kinds of afflictions and persecutions. Yet the Scriptures nevertheless do witness evidently, that the ministry shall never be utterly oppressed, but that the ministers shall continually have the victory, yea, even when they are slain. For the Lord always gives ministers to his church, who, though they be tried as gold is in the fire, yet they overcome through him who has overcome the world and the prince of the world. — Heinrich Bullinger

After Zwingli’s Death… Bullinger Was Called to Zurich to Take his Place on 9 December, 1531

And he was the ideal replacement.

bullinger54After the disaster at Cappel, [Bullinger left Bremgarten and] removed to Zuerich, and was unanimously elected by the Council and the citizens preacher of the Great Minster, Dec. 9, 1531. It was rumored that Zwingli himself, in the presentiment of his death, had designated him as his successor. No better man could have been selected. It was of vital importance for the Swiss churches that the place of the Reformer should be filled by a man of the same spirit, but of greater moderation and self-restraint.

Bullinger now assumed the task of saving, purifying, and consolidating the life-work of Zwingli; and faithfully and successfully did he carry out this task. When he ascended the pulpit of the Great Minster in Dec. 23, 1531, many hearers thought that Zwingli had risen from the grave.  He took a firm stand for the Reformation, which was in danger of being abandoned by timid men in the Council. He kept free from interference with politics, which had proved ruinous to Zwingli. He established a more independent, though friendly relation between Church and State. He confined himself to his proper vocation as preacher and teacher.

In the first years he preached six or seven times a week; after 1542 only twice, on Sundays and Fridays. He followed the plan of Zwingli in explaining whole books of the Scriptures from the pulpit. His sermons were simple, clear, and practical, and served as models for young preachers.

He was a most devoted pastor, dispensing counsel and comfort in every direction, and exposing even his life during the pestilence which several times visited Zuerich. His house was open from morning till night to all who desired his help. He freely dispensed food, clothing, and money from his scanty income and contributions of friends, to widows and orphans, to strangers and exiles, not excluding persons of other creeds. He secured a decent pension for the widow of Zwingli, and educated two of his children with his own. He entertained persecuted brethren for weeks and months in his own house, or procured them places and means of travel.

He paid great attention to education, as superintendent of the schools in Zuerich. He filled the professorships in the Carolinum with able theologians, as Pellican, Bibliander, Peter Martyr. He secured a well-educated ministry. He prepared, in connection with Leo Judae, a book of church order, which was adopted by the Synod, Oct. 22, 1532, issued by authority of the burgomaster, the Small and the Great Council, and continued in force for nearly three hundred years. It provides the necessary rules for the examination, election, and duties of ministers (Predicanten) and deans (Decani), for semi-annual meetings of synods with clerical and lay representatives, and the power of discipline. The charges were divided into eight districts or chapters.*

And much, much more.  And it all began on the 9th of December, 1531.

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* P. Schaff, History of the Christian Church.

Zwingli and Others on Harlots and Harlotry

Is it not a disgraceful thing to sleep with a woman and next morning hold mass? Answer: Can one not also do that if he has stayed with a harlot? If we had not conscience otherwise than that we so far forgetting God and ourselves should be inclined to such wickedness…  – H. Zwingli

I am now come to speak of adultery, which is a sin whereby the husband goeth to another woman, or the wife turneth aside after another man, to whom they make common the use of their bodies, which are not their own bodies now, but their mates in wedlock. Some there are that flatter themselves, and are of opinion, that they are not culpable of adultery, if they have the company of any unbetrothed maiden, or one that is unmarried; or if a woman play the harlot with an unwedded man: they will have it (in God’s name) to be fornication, and not adultery. But the scripture teacheth the contrary. Thou goest to another woman, thou art an adulterer: thou breakest thy faith, thou art forsworn: thy body is not thine, but thy wife’s; when therefore thou bestowest thy body on another, thou committest adultery. If thou, being wedded, dost lie with a married wife, thou doublest the sin of thine adultery. – H. Bullinger

… all know that no seed is so fertile in propagating mankind as the sacerdotal: for to such a degree has the untamed lust of almost all monks and popish priests burst forth, that he is justly deemed chastest who is satisfied with a harlot in his house. — J. Calvin

Never has a heathen, never a Turk, never a pope, never an emperor, and never any human being on earth made or enforced a law that anyone should be put to death because of marriage.  It is a new, unheard-of thing, begun by you new bishops, who are the greatest endowment robbers, harlot keepers, and whore hunters on earth in your chapters.  Nor do you do it for the sake of chastity, but all because others will not practice harlotry and unchastity, as you do, for you let them go unpunished. No one can believe that you conscientiously intend chastity with this penalty, since there are no greater enemies of chastity anywhere than you are, for you pursue it in your own bodies with all lewdness most shamefully, without letup. – M. Luther

Bullinger on the Evil Magistrate

If … in the magistrate evil be found, and not the good for which he was ordained, that comes 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, corrupts the ways of God, and by his own fault and naughtiness transgresses God’s ordinance, so far, that he does worthily deserve the name of devilish power, and not divine authority;— we have an example hereof in the magistrate of Jerusalem: for although he were able to refer the beginning of his power by degrees to Moses, and so to God himself who did ordain it; yet, for because he took the Savior in the garden and bound him, to his servants it is said, “you are come out as it were to a thief with swords and staves; when I was daily with you in the temple, you stretched not forth your hands against me; but this is even your hour, and the power of darkness.” Lo, here he calls the ordinary magistrate the power of the devil, when he abuses his power.  — Heinrich Bullinger

When government officials abuse their power, they are making themselves known as servants of evil.  It was true when Bullinger wrote it, and it’s true now.