Category Archives: Church History

Tagung: 450 Jahre Frankenthaler Religionsgespräch, Referent*innen gefragt

Im Jahr 1571 fand in Frankenthal (Pfalz) ein Religionsgespräch zwischen Reformierten und Täufern statt. Das Gespräch gilt als eine der wichtigsten religionspolitischen Maßnahmen in der reformierten Kurpfalz. Es war eingebunden in eine dezidiert gegen täuferisches Wirken gerichtete obrigkeitliche Agenda.

Much more on the conference here.

The Melanchthon Prize

Via Refo500 on facebook

Melanchthonpreis-Verleihung an Dr. Tobias Jammerthal erst am 26. Juni

Die Verleihung des 12. Internationalen Melanchthonpreises der Stadt Bretten an den Theologen Dr. Tobias Jammerthal wird erst am 26. Juni 2021 stattfinden. Darauf verständigten sich der Oberbürgermeister der Stadt Bretten Martin Wolff und Prof. Dr. Günter Frank, Direktor der Europäischen Melanchthon-Akademie (EMA) Bretten. Die wissenschaftliche Auszeichnung für eine Veröffentlichung im Wirkungskreis von Philipp Melanchthon findet alle drei Jahre stets Mitte Februar – um den Geburtstag des Reformators und Universalgelehrten – in dessen Heimatstadt statt. Die Festveranstaltung in der Gedächtnishalle des Melanchthonhauses war für den 20. Februar geplant. Die Lage der Corona-Pandemie ließ eine Durchführung nach jetzigem Stand nicht möglich werden.

Der Preisträger, Dr. Tobias Jammerthal, wurde bereits im Oktober als Preisträger benannt. Der gebürtige Karlsruher erhält die mit 7.500 Euro dotierte Auszeichnung für seine Studie „Philipp Melanchthons Abendmahlstheologie im Spiegel seiner Bibelauslegung 1520-1548“, die zugleich seine Doktorarbeit an der Universität Tübingen darstellt. Eine wissenschaftliche Findungskommission hatte die Promotionsschrift des Theologen für den Melanchthonpreis 2021 als würdig vorgeschlagen, der Gemeinderat der Stadt Bretten schloss sich dieser Empfehlung an und erkannte dem Theologen diesen Preis zu. Es handelt sich um eine hochdifferenzierte und gewichtige Arbeit, die das Verständnis Melanchthons anhand von Details im Grundsätzlichen neu justiert, heißt es in der Begründung.

Another Portrait of Calvin I’ve Never Seen Before

From the newly published volume by Brill.  This is a very interesting portrait in that not many of Calvin as a very young man seem to exist.

Häuslich – persönlich – innerlich. Bild und Frömmigkeitspraxis im Umfeld der Reformation

In the world of the Protestant Reformation, laypersons became the bearers of new practices and forms of personal appropriation and internalization of faith. Particularly in Protestantism, images played a central but hitherto neglected role in this process. As they address this theme, the multidisciplinary authors of this lavishly illustrated compilation repeatedly chart new territory.

With contributions of Berndt Hamm, Jörg Jochen Berns, Susanne Wegmann, Maria Deiters, Andreas Gormans, Ruth Slenczka, Volker Leppin, Christine Sauer, Ulrike Heinrichs, Sabine Hiebsch, Walter Melion, Wim François, Lee Palmer Wandel, Birgit Ulrike Münch, Christoph Brachmann, Grażyna Jurkowlaniec, Kai Wenzel.

You can read about this new volume here.

Den Caspar-Olevian-Preis

Mit dem Caspar-Olevian-Preis werden wissenschaftliche Arbeiten in den Gebieten, Theologie, Jura, Geschichte und Pädagogik ausgezeichnet. Deren Förderung soll dazu dienen, die Grenzen der Konfessionen zu überwinden. Die Arbeiten können bereits veröffentlicht sein. Der Preis erinnert an Person und Lebenswerk des bedeutenden Trierer Wissenschaftlers Caspar Olevian (1536-1587).

Read more here.

Another Reason to Love Jerome

Jerome was the only Church Father to have written commentaries on all the prophets of the Old Testament. — Urs Leu

Today With Calvin

It was 11 January, 1546, that Calvin’s Order for the Visitation of the Ministers and Parishes dependent on Geneva appeared. It

calvin87… shows that at this time the reformer realized the need for drawing up a new draft for organizing a regular inspection of the country churches, in order to ensure the maintenance of good order and the supervision of ministers in the exercise of their functions, as well as of the congregations in the discharge of their religious duties. Calvin presented his draft to the meeting of the Council on January 25, 1546 when it was adopted. The Register of the Venerable Company reports the introduction of these visitations in these terms: “In the month of (? January) 1546, it was resolved by the brethren met in general assembly, that henceforth visitations be made of all the parishes of the Church of Geneva. It was also agreed by those present, and ordained, that two counsellors should also go with the ministers to visit the local lords, so that the minister on his side might make enquiry concerning the doctrine and life of the pastor of the place and the counsellors of the life of the squire.” This rule later found a place in the Ordinances of 1561.*

Can you imagine such a thing taking place today? Every mega-church would be closed down and Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, and their ilk would be shown the outbound road of town and ordered never to return. And that’s why we call them ‘the good old days’.

Here are the five major purposes of the ‘inspection’:

calvin2First, in order to maintain proper uniformity of doctrine in the whole body of the Church of Geneva, that is to say in the city and also in the parishes dependent on the Seigneury, the Magistracy is to elect two of their Lordships of the Council and similarly the Ministers two of their Congregation, who will be charged with going once a year to visit each parish, to enquire whether the Ministry of the place have accepted any doctrine in any sense new and repugnant to the purity of the gospel.

Second, this Visitation is to enquire whether the Minister preaches edifyingly, or whether there be anything at all scandalous, or unfitting to the instruction of the people because it is obscure, or treats of superfluous questions, or exercises too great rigour, or some similar fault.

Third, to exhort the people to attendance at Service, to have a liking for it, and to find profit in it for Christian living; and to expound what is the office of the Ministry, in order that they understand how they ought to discharge it.

calvin3Fourth, to know whether the Minister is diligent not only in preaching but also in visiting the sick, and particularly in admonishing those that need it, and to prevent anything that might be for the dishonour of God.

Fifth, to discover whether he lead an honest life, and show a good example, or if he commit any dissoluteness or frivolity which renders him contemptible, or if he get on well with his people and likewise with all his family.

Yessir- the mega-churchers would be finished, and so would a lot of so called churches where everything but the Gospel is preached and ministers of all sorts of depraved cravings fleece the flock.

Oh for the really, really good old days…

*J.K.S. Reid, Calvin: Theological Treatises, p. 73.

Today With Zwingli

Zwingli was in Bern for the doings there and wrote his lovely wife to check in on things.

thumb_zwingli-and-wife-2Gnad und frid von gott.

Liebste husfrow, ich sag gott danck, das er dir ein fröliche gburt verlihen hatt. Der welle üns die nach sinem willen ze erziehen verlyhen. Schick miner bäsy j oder ij tuechly sölcher maass und wys, als du sy treyst. Sy kumpt zimmlich, doch nit bagynlich, ist ein frow von 40 iaren,  in alle wys und maass, wie sy meister Iörgen frow beschriben hatt.  Tuot mir und üns allen über die maass guetlich. Bis hiemit gott  bevolhen. Gruetz mir gfatter schaffnerin, Uolmann(!) Trinckler,  schultheiss Effingerin, und wer dir lieb sye.  Bitt gott für mich und uns alle.

Geben ze Bernn xj. tags Ienners.

Gruetz mir alle dine kind; besunder Margreten tröst in minem namen.

Huldrych Zuingli, din huswirt.  Schick mir, so bald du kanst, den tol’ggenrock.

Der frommen Anna Reinhartin ze Zürich, siner lieben husfrowen.

How a Pope Refusing to Pay a Debt Angered a Population and Made Reformation Possible

A thousand little details led to the causes of the Reformation in Zurich.  One was Zwingli’s unwillingness to support mercenary service.  Another was the desire of the Council to expand its own authority vis-a-vis Rome.  Still another was the anger of the populace about a payment to the City that Rome never made.  Here are the brief details:

On January 9, 1522, Adrian VI., the Dutch Pope, entered on his office. Known to him was the independent stand taken by Zurich, but shrewdly and kindly, for Adrian was a good man, he wrote to the Zurich authorities a pleasant letter, in which he expressed no blame, but on the contrary promised to pay the debt the papal treasury owed Zurich, when in funds. Well were it if it had been, for the money was not forthcoming, and the fact embittered the people against the papacy.

Would Zurich have broken completely with Rome if Adrian had paid?  Would the city have supported Zwingli?  It’s hard to say.  It is, though, important to remember that nothing ever happens because of one simple reason.  Not even Reformation.

The Tensions Which Eventually Led to the Second Kappel War

At a general diet which met at Baden, January 8, 1531, the Five [Catholic] Cantons declared that unless justice was done them with respect to the Abbey of St. Gall [which had been seized by the Reformed and sold, the proceeds going to help the poor], they would not appear again in diet.

Threats and insults were freely exchanged, although the use of abusive language was expressly forbidden by the treaty. “Thief,” “murderer,” and “arch-heretic,” were some of the epithets applied to Zwingli. But the Five [Catholic] Cantons did not content themselves with the mere use of invective. A vigorous persecution was raised against the poor people among them who loved the Word of God [i.e., the Reformed]. They were fined, imprisoned, cruelly tormented, and expelled from their homes.

Secret councils were held and threats of war were heard on every side. The evangelical cities, greatly alarmed by these warlike manifestations, assembled in diet at Basel, February, 1531, and again at Zurich in March. At the former of these meetings, the deputies of Zurich presented a long list of grievances alleged to have been suffered by them at the hands of the Five Cantons. “What can we do,” inquired they, “to punish these base calumnies, and disarm our enemies?” “We understand,” said Bern, “that you would resort to violence, but we bid you reflect that the Five Cantons are forming secret alliances with the Pope, the Emperor, and the King of France. Think also of the many innocent and pious people in the Five Cantons who would suffer in case of war. Think how easy it is to begin a war, but how hard to predict how it will end. Let us rather send a deputation to the Five Cantons requesting the punishment, according to treaty, of those who have circulated these infamous slanders. Should they refuse to do this, let us break off all intercourse with them.”

“Such a mission would be useless,” said the deputies of Basel, “let us rather summon a general diet.” This proposal won general assent, and the diet was accordingly convoked at Baden on the 10th of April.*

The gathering clouds of war would eventually burst in a great tempest in October, 1531, after 10 months of terrible tension between the Catholic Cantons and those which adhered to the Reformed views of Zwingli. And it all started with a squabble over property… and faith…

*Samuel Simpson, Life of Ulrich Zwingli: The Swiss Patriot and Reformer (New York: Baker & Taylor Co., 1902), 245–247.

The Devil and the Victorians: Supernatural Evil in Nineteenth-Century English Culture

In recent decades, there has been a growing recognition of the significance of the supernatural in a Victorian context. Studies of nineteenth-century spiritualism, occultism, magic, and folklore have highlighted that Victorian England was ridden with spectres and learned magicians. Despite this growing body of scholarship, little historiographical work has addressed the Devil. This book demonstrates the significance of the Devil in a Victorian context, emphasising his pervasiveness and diversity. Drawing on a rich array of primary material, including theological and folkloric works, fiction, newspapers and periodicals, and broadsides and other ephemera, it uses the diabolic to explore the Victorians’ complex and ambivalent relationship with the supernatural. Both the Devil and hell were theologically contested during the nineteenth century, with an increasing number of both clergymen and laypeople being discomfited by the thought of eternal hellfire. Nevertheless, the Devil continued to play a role in the majority of English denominations, as well as in folklore, spiritualism, occultism, popular culture, literature, and theatre. The Devil and the Victorians will appeal to readers interested in nineteenth-century English cultural and religious history, as well as the darker side of the supernatural.

Sounds so fun!

The Anniversary of John à Lasco’s Death

Via John McCafferty-

8 Jan 1560: d. Jan Łaski – John à Lasco – reformer & 1st pastor of the #Dutch church #London #otd at Pinczow #Poland Buried at high altar of the church there on 29 Jan – grave destroyed by the bishop of Krákow in 1884 (BM)

Worshiping with the Reformers

Worship of the triune God has always stood at the center of the Christian life. That was certainly the case during the sixteenth-century Reformation as well. Yet in the midst of tremendous social and theological upheaval, the church had to renew its understanding of what it means to worship God.

In this volume, which serves as a companion to IVP Academic’s Reformation Commentary on Scripture series, Reformation scholar Karin Maag takes readers inside the worshiping life of the church during this era. Drawing from sources across theological traditions, she explores several aspects of the church’s worship, including what it was like to attend church, reforms in preaching, the function of prayer, how Christians experienced the sacraments, and the roles of both visual art and music in worship.

With Maag as your guide, you can go to church—with the Reformers.

Karin is a super scholar.  You’ll learn a lot from her.

Worshiping with the Reformers

Dear colleagues,

The Meeter Center cordially invites you to the next in our series of Reformation Conversations. On Thursday, February 11, at 3:30 PM Eastern standard time, we will be discussing worship practices in the Reformation era. Our lead speaker will be Meeter Center director Karin Maag, whose forthcoming book, Worshiping with the Reformers, published by InterVarsity Press, is due to be released on February 9 ( She will be joined by Dr. Graeme Murdock (associate professor in European History at Trinity College Dublin) followed by a moderated Q&A based on audience questions submitted via the Chat function on Zoom. Sign up at the link below. The Zoom link will be sent out a week before the session.

Via the Meeter Center.

The First Anabaptist To Face Execution

On this day in 1527 the notorious Felix Manz was taken to the lake, in Zurich, and dropped to the bottom.  It was the government’s way of saying ‘alright, if you want water, we’ll give you water Felix’.  The deed was recorded in art-


That’s Mr Manz, being put in the boat- chained.  The decision of the Council was reached after a good deal of debate, and a good deal of pleading from Zwingli to Manz that he amend his ways before the government took matters into its own hands.

There’s an interesting historical footnote to the affair here, which you ought to read.  It has to do with an apology by the authorities of Zurich in 2004 given to the descendants of the Anabaptists for their poor treatment.

There’s also a very fine essay by Gottfried Locher in Zwingliana titled Felix Manz’ Abschiedsworte an seine Mitbrüder vor der Hinrichtung 1527: Spiritualität und Theologie. Die Echtheit des Liedes «Bey Christo will ich bleiben».‘  Enjoy.

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.

The Berne Disputation

Schaff writes

The disputation at Berne lasted nineteen days (from Jan. 6 to 26). It was the Protestant counterpart of the disputation at Baden in composition, arrangements and result. It had the same effect for Berne as the disputations of 1523 had for Zurich. The invitations were general; but the Roman Catholic cantons and the four bishops who were invited refused, with the exception of the bishop of Lausanne, to send delegates, deeming the disputation of Baden final.

Dr. Eck, afraid to lose his fresh laurels, was unwilling, as he said, “to follow the heretics into their nooks and corners”; but he severely attacked the proceedings. The Reformed party was strongly represented by delegates from Zurich, Basel, and St. Gall, and several cities of South Germany. Zurich sent about one hundred ministers and laymen, with a strong protection.

The chief speakers on the Reformed side were Zwingli, Haller, Kolb, Oecolampadius, Capito, and Bucer from Strassburg; on the Roman side, Grab, Huter, Treger, Christen, and Burgauer. Joachim von Watt of St. Gall presided. Popular sermons were preached during the disputation by Blaurer of Constance, Zwingli, Bucer, Oecolampadius, Megander, and others.

The Reformers carried an easy and complete victory, and reversed the decision of Baden. The ten Theses or Conclusions, drawn up by Haller and revised by Zwingli, were fully discussed, and adopted as a sort of confession of faith for the Reformed Church of Berne. They are as follows:

1. The holy Christian Church, whose only Head is Christ, is born of the Word of God, and abides in the same, and listens not to the voice of a stranger.

2. The Church of Christ makes no laws and commandments without the Word of God. Hence human traditions are no more binding on us than as far as they are founded in the Word of God.

3. Christ is the only wisdom, righteousness, redemption, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. Hence it is a denial of Christ when we confess another ground of salvation and satisfaction.

4. The essential and corporal presence of the body and blood of Christ cannot be demonstrated from the Holy Scripture.

5. The mass as now in use, in which Christ is offered to God the Father for the sins of the living and the dead, is contrary to the Scripture, a blasphemy against the most holy sacrifice, passion, and death of Christ, and on account of its abuses an abomination before God.

6. As Christ alone died for us, so he is also to be adored as the only Mediator and Advocate between God the Father and the believers. Therefore it is contrary to the Word of God to propose and invoke other mediators.

7. Scripture knows nothing of a purgatory after this life. Hence all masses and other offices for the dead are useless.

8. The worship of images is contrary to Scripture. Therefore images should be abolished when they are set up as objects of adoration.

9. Matrimony is not forbidden in the Scripture to any class of men; but fornication and unchastity are forbidden to all.

10. Since, according to the Scripture, an open fornicator must be excommunicated, it follows that unchastity and impure celibacy are more pernicious to the clergy than to any other class.

All to the glory of God and his holy Word.

Zwingli preached twice during the disputation. He was in excellent spirits, and at the height of his fame and public usefulness. In the first sermon he explained the Apostles’ Creed, mixing in some Greek and Hebrew words for his theological hearers. In the second, he exhorted the Bernese to persevere after the example of Moses and the heroes of faith.

Perseverance alone can complete the triumph. (Ferendo vincitur fortuna.) Behold these idols conquered, mute, and scattered before you. The gold you spent upon them must henceforth be devoted to the good of the living images of God in their poverty.

“Hold fast,” he said in conclusion, “to the liberty wherewith Christ has set us free. You know how much we have suffered in our conscience, how we were directed from one false comfort to another, from one commandment to another which only burdened our conscience and gave us no rest. But now ye have found freedom and peace in the knowledge and faith of Jesus Christ. From this freedom let nothing separate you. To hold it fast requires great fortitude. You know how our ancestors, thanks to God, have fought for our bodily liberty; let us still more zealously guard our spiritual liberty; not doubting that God, who has enlightened and drawn you, will in due time also draw our dear neighbors and fellow-confederates to him, so that we may live together in true friendship. May God, who created and redeemed us all, grant this to us and to them. Amen.”

There’s a good deal of material in Zwingli’s Works related to the Berne Disputation.  Those are found in vol. VI/1 of ZW.

Nr. 110 Bittschrift an den Rat, daß man Zwingli selbst und andere Gelehrte an die Disputation zu Bern senden möge, Zwischen 7. und 11. Dezember 1527
Nr. 111 Ratschlag der 4 Verordneten und 3 Leutpriester wegen der Disputation zu Bern, Zwischen 7. und 11. Dezember 1527
Nr. 112 Notizen Zwinglis an der Berner Disputation, 6. bis 25. Januar 1528
Nr. 113 Voten Zwinglis an der Berner Disputation, 6. bis 25. Januar 1528
Nr. 114 Zwinglis Entwurf für Berchtold Hallers Schlußansprache, 25. oder 26. Januar 1528
Nr. 115 Entbietung Zwinglis, Oekolampads, Capitos und Bucers, 26. Januar 1528
Nr. 116 Die beiden Predigten Zwinglis in Bern, 19. und 30. Januar 1528
Nr. 117 Anweisung für das Berner Reformationsmandat, Zwischen 27. und 31. Januar 1528

Read that. It’ll give you some food for thought.

Ulrich Jr.

Zwingli’s family tree

Did you know…

William, Zwingli’s eldest son, born in 1526, after studying in Zurich went to Strassburg to complete his education, but there died of the plague in 1541. Ulrich, born January 6, 1528, who is said to have been the image of his father, studied at Basel, became a clergyman, diakonus in the Great Minster in Zurich in his nineteenth year, professor of Hebrew in 1556, of theology in 1557; he married Bullinger’s daughter Anna. She died of the plague in 1565.*

*Samuel Macauley Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531), Heroes of the Reformation (New York; London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons; Knickerbocker Press, 1901), 360.

Today with Bucer

Martin Kählers biblische Theologie: Grundzüge seines theologischen Werkes

Die vorliegende Studie versteht sich im Anschluss an die ältere und jüngere Kählerforschung und greift die offene Frage nach einem Verständnis des Lehrganzen (Johannes Wirsching) der Theologie Martin Kählers auf. Hierfür lehnt sie sich an Gerhard Sauters Rede von der Dogmatik als einem lebendigen “Sprachkörper” an, deren eigentümlicher Charakter sich in einer “ständig wiederkehrende(n) Struktur von Wörtern und Objekten” (Zugänge zur Dogmatik) niederschlägt. Diesen Sprachkörper versucht die Studie durch die Analyse der späten Kreuzesschrift (1911) von Martin Kähler in einem ersten Arbeitsschritt zu erschließen.

Das Resultat, nämlich die Grundbegriffe Bild, Wort, Geist und Geschichte werden dann im Folgenden gleichsam als Suchbegriffe auf repräsentative Schriften des sich über fünf Jahrzehnte erstreckenden Gesamtwerkes Kählers angewendet. Dabei wird u.a. deutlich, dass die wohl bekannteste Kählersche Schrift “Der sog. historische Jesus und der geschichtliche, biblische Christus” mit ihrem starken Bezug auf den Bild- und Geschichtsbegriff nicht nur ein Einzelstück des theologischen Denkens Martin Kählers darstellt, sondern inhaltlich eingebettet ist in das Gesamte seines theologischen Denkens.

Vor dem Hintergrund der persönlich-biographischen Prägungen sowie der theologischen Prägungen verdichtet sich im Durchgang durch das theologische Werk Kählers das Bild von einer im Großen und Ganzen inhaltlich einheitlichen Theologie, die konsequent an Text und Sprache der Heiligen Schrift orientiert ist.

V&R sent along a review copy today, for which I thank them.  More anon.