2 Corinthians: Reformation Commentary on Scripture

When the Reformers of the sixteenth century turned to this biblical text, originally written by Paul to the first-century church in Corinth, they found truths that apply to Christians regardless of their historical context. For example, Reformed theologian Wolfgang Musculus wrote, “To be a Christian is to be in Christ. If anyone is outside of Christ, he is not a Christian. It is easy to partake of the sacraments and to be of the name and profession of Christ, but that is not what it means to be in Christ… The largest part of Christians is still an old creature for they have not yet been regenerated and renewed by the spirit of Christ. To know a Christian, therefore, we should not so much examine his external profession, but his life.”

In this volume of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture, Reformation scholar Scott Manetsch guides readers through a wealth of early modern commentary on the book of 2 Corinthians. Readers will hear from familiar voices and discover lesser-known figures from a diversity of theological traditions, including Lutherans, Reformed, Radicals, Anglicans and Roman Catholics. Drawing upon a variety of resources—including commentaries, sermons, treatises, and confessions—much of which appears here for the first time in English, this volume provides resources for contemporary preachers, enables scholars to better understand the depth and breadth of Reformation commentary, and seeks to encourage all those who would be newly created in Christ.

Flugschriften: ‘Flying Texts’

A Flugschrift is, literally, a ‘flying writing’.  Flugschriften are flying writings or writings that fly off the press and into the public’s hands.  Flugschriften is the plural form of Flugschrift.

I mention this because these Flugschriften were to the Reformers what blog posts are to modern theologians and biblical scholars- quickly produced, aimed at the moment, addressing something immediate.  Luther and Zwingli in particular made great use of the (relatively fast) speed small volumes could be produced and distributed.

One such example of this sort of material is the witty and incisive and really scorchingly amusing Die göttliche Mühle which Zwingli commended to his friend Oswald Myconius on the 25th of May, 1521.  It (Die göttliche Mühle) was written by the virtually unknown Martin Seger of Marienfeld.

Emil Egli and Walther Köhler describe and discuss the booklet in Zwingliana 2/12 (1910).  The thing to take away from the production of such pieces is that 1) speed is of the essence when theological battles are being waged; and 2) wit and humor in brevity often make the point better than long and boring discourses.

The Catholic Church was, by the way, frequently portrayed in the 16th century as a Mill where the faithful were ground into powder by the greedy clerics, chief of whom was of course the super-greedy Pope.  Tobias Stimmer’s Mühle is a spectacular example of the genre-

#ICYMI- Konrad Schmid on Leonhard Ragaz

First published in 2021:

Heute vor 100 Jahren demissionierte Leonhard Ragaz, eine der Gründergestalten des religiösen Sozialismus in der Schweiz, als Professor von der Universität Zürich. Er wurde am 28. Juli 1868 in Tamins in Graubünden geboren. Dort kam er durch die genossenschaftliche und direktdemokratische Prägung der Gemeinde früh in Kontakt mit der Politik.

Er studierte dann Theologie in Basel (1886–1888 und 1889–1990), Jena (1888–1889) und Berlin (1889) – weil dafür ein Stipendium erhältlich war – und war zunächst fest im religiösen und politischen Freisinn der damaligen Zeit verankert. Er wirkte ab 1895 in Chur als Pfarrer, wo er sich besonders der Armenfürsorge und dem Kampf gegen den Alkoholismus zuwandte, bevor er 1902 an das Basler Münster kam. In der Basler Zeit las er die Schriften des Zürcher Pfarrers Hermann Kutter, doch es waren auch eigene Erfahrungen, die ihn auf den Pfad des religiösen Sozialismus brachten.

Eine Episode schien besonders prägend für ihn geworden zu sein: In einer Zugfahrt von Bern nach Basel hörte er, wie ein junger Kaufmann sich damit brüstete, in Zürich eine junge Bündnerin verführt zu haben. Er schrieb im Nachhinein über dieses Erlebnis: „[D]as einfache Volk [ist] so viel besser als diese schmutzige Burgeoisie. Zu diesen Leuten gehe ich. Nun ist mir ein neues soziales Christentum aufgegangen. Ich datiere vom 2. Februar 1903 (morgens zwischen sieben und acht Uhr) eine neue Periode meines Lebens. Es ist unter viel Erfahrungen und Stimmungen des letzten Jahres eine Frucht reif geworden.“ In Basel fand am 5. Mai 1903 der Maurerstreik statt, den Ragaz sehr beschäftigte und den er in einer Predigt reflektierte. Ragaz gewann mehr und mehr das Vertrauen der Positiven – d.h. der konservativen Richtung innerhalb des reformierten Christentums -, was sich allerdings bei einem ersten Berufungsverfahren auf eine systematisch-theologische Professur in Basel, in das auch Rudolf Otto als Kandidat involviert war, bei der mehrheitlich liberal ausgerichteten Fakultät nachteilig für ihn auswirkte (1905).

Bald engagierte er sich für den Religiösen Sozialismus. Ab 1906 publizierte er fast tausend Artikel in der Zeitschrift «Neue Wege», dem publizistischen Organ des Religiösen Sozialismus. 1908 wurde er Professor für Systematische und Praktische Theologie in Zürich, 1913 trat er, unter dem Eindruck des Zürcher Generalstreiks (12. Juli 1912), der Sozialdemokratischen Partei bei. Über dreizehn Jahre hinweg wirkte er in Zürich, bevor er die Fakultät mit einem Paukenschlag verliess: 1921 reichte Ragaz von sich aus die Demission als Professor ein. Er sah in seinem Verzicht auf das akademische Lehramt die zwingende Konsequenz seines vorangehenden Lebenswegs und bezeichnete seinen Weggang von der Professur als „die reife Frucht meiner ganzen Entwicklung.“

Schon am 14. April 1918 hatte er seiner Frau Clara Ragaz-Nadig geschrieben: „Wäre nicht die Rücksicht auf die Kinder gewesen, so hätte ich schon vor sechs Jahren die Professur aufgegeben und wäre Fabrikarbeiter geworden.“ Allerdings gab es auch andere, direktere Auslöser, die Ragaz zu diesem Schritt bewogen hatten: Im Sommersemester 1919 hielt Ragaz seine öffentliche Vorlesung über „Universitäts- und Studienprobleme“, die 1920 unter dem Titel „Die Pädagogische Revolution“ in Buchform erschien. In ihr sprach er seine Frustration über die geistige Verfassung der Universität aus und griff die Universität scharf an: „Die Universitäten konnten keine geistige Führung geben, weil sie keinen Geist haben.“

Der Universität und den übergeordneten kantonalen Behörden blieben diese Ausfälle vonseiten Ragaz’ nicht verborgen. Die Hochschulkommission hatte 1920 über eine weitere sechsjährige Amtsdauer für Ragaz zu befinden und erkannte zwar, dass „Professor Ragaz offen und ehrlich mit Mut und Hingabe für seine Überzeugung einsteht und daß er gewissermaßen als Brücke und als Bindeglied zwischen dem akademischen Lehrkörper und den radikalen Elementen der Studentenschaft eine selbstlose und aufopfernde Tätigkeit entfaltet“. Gleichzeitig wurde aber beanstandet, dass er die „Universität, an der er zu wirken berufen ist, in seiner ‹Revolution der Pädagogik› verlästert, ohne greifbare positive Vorschläge zur Behebung der gerügten Mißstände zu machen.“

Nach gesundheitlichen Problemen, die im Herbst 1920 eine Beurlaubung nötig machten, begann er im Frühjahr 1921 noch mit den Lehrveranstaltungen des Semesters; mitten darin, am 24. Mai 1921, verfasste er dann aber sein Demissionsgesuch. Als Grund gab Ragaz in diesem Schreiben weder religiöse Zweifel noch seine Kritik an der Universität an, sondern er „musste aus der Kirche heraus, musste Christus ‹in freier Luft› dienen, ohne Bindung an Staat, Kirche und Gesellschaft“. 1921 setzten sich die Studenten erfolglos bei Behörden und Dozenten dafür ein, dass Leonhard Ragaz der Fakultät weiterhin erhalten bleibe. Der Rücktritt Ragaz’ fand grosse Beachtung und wurde auch in der ausseruniversitären Öffentlichkeit breit diskutiert, so etwa in der „Neuen Zürcher Zeitung“.

Ludwig Köhler etwa sah sich zur Klarstellung genötigt: „Ragaz ist weder auf äußern Druck hin, noch wegen der ungünstigen Urteile, die, sei es mit teilweisem Recht, sei es gänzlich zu Unrecht, über seine Lehrtätigkeit gefällt wurden, noch wegen Unstimmigkeiten mit seinen Fakultätskollegen, wie sie ein deutsches Blatt vermutet, zurückgetreten, sondern lediglich aus Gewissensgründen, über die er sich in seinem Entlassungsgesuch, das wohl einmal veröffentlicht wird, äußert.“

Ragaz zog vom Zürichberg nach Aussersihl, einem Arbeiterquartier, und gründete dort die Volksschule „Arbeit und Bildung“, deren Erfolg jedoch bescheiden blieb. Bemerkenswert ist sein Eintreten für das Judentum in einem 1921 gehaltenen Vortrag „Judentum und Christentum. Ein Wort zur Verständigung“, in dem er sich von der traditionellen christlichen Vorstellung der Judenmission verabschiedete und Judentum und Christentum als gleichwertig behandelte.

Damit war er ein Vorreiter des jüdisch-christlichen Dialogs, wie nach ihm auch Arthur Rich. Für sein schriftstellerisches Wirken wurde Ragaz mit dem Literaturpreis der Stadt Zürich geehrt. Am 6. Dezember 1945 starb er in Zürich.

Covenant: A Vital Element of Reformed Theology

Covenant: A Vital Element of Reformed Theology provides a multi-disciplinary reflection on the theme of the covenant, from historical, biblical-theological and systematic-theological perspectives. The interaction between exegesis and dogmatics in the volume reveals the potential and relevance of this biblical motif. It proves to be vital in building bridges between God’s revelation in the past and the actual question of how to live with him today.

Icky Eck: The Best the Papists Could Manage at Baden

To give modern readers an idea of how despised Eck was in the German speaking areas of Switzerland, Austria, and Germany, allow me a simple comparison:  Eck was to the Reformed and Protestant theologians of his day what Joel Osteen is to Reformed and Protestant Theologians today.  When he appeared at Disputations he was regularly defeated and his normal response was preening self importance.

So, who was this drivel of a man?

eckJohn Eck, more correctly Johann Maier, was born at Eck (now Egg, near Memmingen, south of Augsburg) in Swabia, November 13, 1486. When twelve years of age he began his studies at Heidelberg and continued them at Tuebingen, Cologne and Freiburg. When fourteen years of age he became Magister Artium, when nineteen bachelor of theology, when twenty-two priest at Strassburg, and in 1510, when twenty-four years, doctor and professor of theology in the University of Ingolstadt.

Having studied under humanistic teachers he advocated at first liberal views in theology and philosophy and as early as 1517 entered into friendly relations with Luther. But his unbounded ambition to be regarded as the leading theologian of Germany caused him to become the defender of the papacy and of Catholic doctrine. In 1519, he began his fight against Luther. In 1520, he visited Rome at the invitation of the Pope, when he presented to him his work on the Primacy of Peter against Luther, Ingolstadt 1520, for which he was awarded with the appointment as papal prothonotary. When on June 16, 1520, the papal bull, Exsurge Domine, appeared, in which forty-one propositions of Luther were condemned, Eck was entrusted with its execution in Germany.

At the Diet of Augsburg, Eck took a leading part as defender of the Roman Catholic position. He extracted 404 articles from the works of the reformers and with seventy other theologians collaborated in the Confutatio pontificia, in which the Catholic refutation of Protestantism was embodied.

Against Zwingli and his party, Eck first appeared at the public disputation at Baden, in Catholic territory, twelve miles northwest of Zurich, on May 21–June 18, 1526. The affair ended in favor of Eck, who induced the authorities to suppress the reformation at Baden. The dispution of Berne, which was conducted in the absence of Eck in January 1528, was won for the reformation.

When Zwingli’s account of his faith had been submitted to the emperor in July 1530, it was turned over to Eck for answer. He sat down at once and within three days, as he boasts, he produced what he intended to be a crushing reply. It was completed on July 17, 1530, dedicated to the Cardinal of Liege and printed most likely in the same month at Augsburg.

Eck was more highly esteemed as the champion of the true faith in Rome than in Germany, where he had many enemies. He was accused of drunkenness, immorality, unbounded greed for money and passionate desire for honor and preferment. When Rome did not gratify all his ambitions, he made overtures for peace to the Protestants, but they failed through hatred and contempt by which he was generally regarded.*

John Eck- self aggrandizing Papist tool.**
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*The Latin Works of Huldreich Zwingli. (Vol. 2, pp. 62–63).
** For further reading: Die Einladung Zwinglis an Johann Eck zum Berner Religionsgespräch: Ein ungedruckter Zwinglibrief  — PDF

Johannes Eck, Enchiridion locorum communium adversus Lutherum et alios hostes ecclesiae (1525-1543), mit den Zusätzen von Tilman Smeling O.P. (1529, 1532), hg. von Pierre Fraenkel, in Verbindung mit dem Institut d’Histoire de la Réformation Genf, Münster i.W. 1979 (Corpus catholicorum, Werke katholischer Schriftsteller im Zeitalter der Glaubensspaltung 34). — PDF

Baden: Let the Debate Commence

The Diet of Switzerland took the same stand against the Zwinglian Reformation as the Diet of the German Empire against the Lutheran movement. Both Diets consisted only of one house, and this was composed of the hereditary nobility and aristocracy. The people were not directly represented by delegates of their own choice. The majority of voters were conservative, and in favor of the old faith; but the majority of the people in the larger and most prosperous cantons and in the free imperial cities favored progress and reform, and succeeded in the end.

The question of the Reformation was repeatedly brought before the Swiss Diet, and not a few liberal voices were heard in favor of abolishing certain crying abuses; but the majority of the cantons, especially the old forest-cantons around the lake of Lucerne, resisted every innovation. Berne was anxious to retain her political supremacy, and vacillated. Zwingli had made many enemies by his opposition to the foreign military service and pensions of his countrymen. Dr. Faber, the general vicar of the diocese of Constance, after a visit to Rome, openly turned against his former friend, and made every effort to unite the interests of the aristocracy with those of the hierarchy. “Now,” he said, “the priests are attacked, the nobles will come next.” At last the Diet resolved to settle the difficulty by a public disputation. Dr. Eck, well known to us from the disputation at Leipzig for his learning, ability, vanity and conceit, offered his services to the Diet in a flattering letter of Aug. 13, 1524. He had then just returned from a third visit to Rome, and felt confident that he could crush the Protestant heresy in Switzerland as easily as in Germany. He spoke contemptuously of Zwingli, as one who “had no doubt milked more cows than he had read books.” About the same time the Roman counter-reformation had begun to be organized at the convent of Regensburg (June, 1524), under the lead of Bavaria and Austria.

The disputation was opened in the Catholic city of Baden, in Aargau, May 21, 1526, and lasted eighteen days, till the 8th of June. The cantons and four bishops sent deputies, and many foreign divines were present. The Protestants were a mere handful, and despised as “a beggarly, miserable rabble.” Zwingli, who foresaw the political aim and result of the disputation, was prevented by the Council of Zurich from leaving home, because his life was threatened; but he influenced the proceedings by daily correspondence and secret messengers. No one could doubt his courage, which he showed more than once in the face of greater danger, as when he went to Marburg through hostile territory, and to the battlefield at Cappel. But several of his friends were sadly disappointed at his absence. He would have equalled Eck in debate and excelled him in biblical learning. Erasmus was invited, but politely declined on account of sickness.

The arrangements for the disputation and the local sympathies were in favor of the papal party. Mass was said every morning at five, and a sermon preached; the pomp of ritualism was displayed in solemn processions. The presiding officers and leading secretaries were Romanists; nobody besides them was permitted to take notes. The disputation turned on the real presence, the sacrifice of the mass, the invocation of the Virgin Mary and of saints, on images, purgatory, and original sin. Dr. Eck was the champion of the Roman faith, and behaved with the same polemical dexterity and overbearing and insolent manner as at Leipzig: robed in damask and silk, decorated with a golden ring, chain and cross; surrounded by patristic and scholastic folios, abounding in quotations and arguments, treating his opponents with proud contempt, and silencing them with his stentorian voice and final appeals to the authority of Rome. Occasionally he uttered an oath, “Potz Marter.” A contemporary poet, Nicolas Manuel, thus described his conduct:—

“Eck stamps with his feet, and claps his hands,
He raves, he swears, he scolds;
‘I do,’ cries he, ‘what the Pope commands,
And teach whatever he holds.’ ”

Oecolampadius of Basle and Haller of Berne, both plain and modest, but able, learned and earnest men, defended the Reformed opinions. Oecolampadius declared at the outset that he recognized no other rule of judgment than the Word of God. He was a match for Eck in patristic learning, and in solid arguments. His friends said, “Oecolampadius is vanquished, not by argument, but by vociferation.” Even one of the Romanists remarked, “If only this pale man were on our side!” His host judged that he must be a very pious heretic, because he saw him constantly engaged in study and prayer; while Eck was enjoying rich dinners and good wines, which occasioned the remark, “Eck is bathing in Baden, but in wine.”

The papal party boasted of a complete victory. All innovations were forbidden; Zwingli was excommunicated; and Basle was called upon to depose Oecolampadius from the pastoral office. Faber, not satisfied with the burning of heretical books, advocated even the burning of the Protestant versions of the Bible. Thomas Murner, a Franciscan monk and satirical poet, who was present at Baden, heaped upon Zwingli and his adherents such epithets as tyrants, liars, adulterers, church robbers, fit only for the gallows! He had formerly (1512) chastised the vices of priests and monks, but turned violently against the Saxon Reformer, and earned the name of “Luther-Scourge” (Lutheromastix). He was now made lecturer in the Franciscan convent at Lucerne, and authorized to edit the acts of the Baden disputation.

The result of the Baden disputation was a temporary triumph for Rome, but turned out in the end, like the Leipzig disputation of 1519, to the furtherance of the Reformation. Impartial judges decided that the Protestants had been silenced by vociferation, intrigue and despotic measures, rather than refuted by sound and solid arguments from the Scriptures. After a temporary reaction, several cantons which had hitherto been vacillating between the old and the new faith, came out in favor of reform.*

The documents and debates are available in this new volume from TVZ.

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*History of the Christian church.

Today With Zwingli: Die erste kurze Antwort über Ecks sieben Schlußreden

Huldrych Zwingli published his little 19 page Flugschrift Die erste kurze Antwort über Ecks sieben Schlußreden on 21 May, 1526.  Zwingli also addressed it to the Confederation (so that all the Cantons which had embraced Reform would know how Eck should be answered by their own Pastors and Theologians).

The occasion was, of course, the Baden Disputation (which Zwingli had not been allowed to attend- the Zurich City Council deeming him too valuable to risk having him killed by the angry Catholics- a thing that certainly would have happened had he gone).

It commences

Frommen, vesten, fürsichtigen, ersamen, wysen, gnädigen, lieben herren! Sidmal mir üwer wyßheit uß ursachen, die sy wol weyßt, ze lieb den ungemeinen platz Baden nit endren wil und aber daby Egg unnd Faber mit aller irer practick, red und anheften der artiklen allein uff mich reichend, sam die disputation allein sye umb minetwillen angesehen (darumb ich vermeindt allerbillichost gewäsen wär, daß man ein gemeinen platz angesehen hett, vorus so man vor jaren offenlich verstanden hat, daß mir Baden gheinswegs gemein ist; darus ich ermessen mag, das ir fürnemen und höchste begird ist, nit mit mir, sunder hinder mir ze disputieren und da uff beschlüß ze tringen, die sy, wo mir der platz gemein wer, nit vertruwtind fürzebringen, wiewol ouch hierinn gott wirt ynsehen thuon), hierumb ist an üch, mine gnädige herren, min demuotig pitt, ir wellind mir des Eggen gründ, die er über die siben schlußreden anzeigen wirt, schrifftlich lassen zuokomen; wil ich imm in gar kurtzer zyt allweg by üch schriftlich antwurt geben.

It then lists Eck’s theses upon which Zwingli comments one by one.  To my knowledge the present little treatise has never been translated.  A pity, really, and yet more evidence that folk interested in the period need to learn German or suffer the sorrow of never really knowing what went on.

Die Druckmacher

Der Buchdruck veränderte die Welt, doch es bedurfte einer zweiten Generation von «Printing Natives», die mit Ablassbriefen, Thesen, Diffamierungen und Sensationsmeldungen als Massenware einen tiefgreifenden Kulturwandel entfesselte. Der renommierte Kirchenhistoriker Thomas Kaufmann zeigt in seinem anschaulichen, Augen öffnen den Buch, warum wir die «Generation Luther» besser verstehen, wenn wir die heutigen «Digital Natives» betrachten – und umgekehrt.

Die ersten Autos waren motorisierte Kutschen, der Computer diente als Schreibmaschine, und gedruckte Bücher setzten die handgeschriebenen fort: Innovationen werden zunächst in den gewohnten Bahnen genutzt, bevor eine zweite Generation die neuen Möglichkeiten ausschöpft. Thomas Kaufmann beschreibt, wie um 1500 eine junge Generation die Drucktechnik nutzte, um gegen die «Türkengefahr» zu mobilisieren, Ablassbriefe zu vertreiben und für eine «Reformation» der Kirche zu kämpfen. Drucker wie Aldus Manutius, Graphiker wie Albrecht Dürer, Humanisten wie Erasmus von Rotterdam und Johannes Reuchlin oder Theologen wie Martin Luther und Ulrich Zwingli vermarkteten sich auf Flugschriften und in Traktaten selbst und machten Druck: Gegner wurden in wachsenden Echoräumen diffamiert, Ereignisse zu Sensationen gemacht, um eine sich zerstreuende Aufmerksamkeit zu fesseln. Die Reformation war, wie Thomas Kaufmann zeigt, nur ein Teil dieses viel breiteren kulturellen Umbruchs. Schließlich veränderte die neue Technik die Art des Forschens und mit Enzyklopädien oder druckgraphischen Werken die Weise, wie Menschen die Welt wahrnehmen.   

Christliches Leben und die Verbesserung des Menschen: Enhancement und Heiligung bei Calvin

Be better, be more beautiful, perform better! Self-optimization is all the rage. What do theology and the church have to say about it? Should they issue a warning and strike up a cultural pessimistic tune? Maybe they could activate their own resources, which have the potential for discursive compatibility with phenomena of self-improvement. This study brings the discourse of enhancement into dialogue with the locus of healing in Calvin.

Freely available in Open Access or for a cost for a hard copy.

Lightning and the Reformation

Over at the University of Zurich-

Ein Blitz beeinflusst den Nachrichtenaustausch in der Reformation

Brand des Zürcher Grossmünsters nach einem Blitzeinschlag am 7. Mai 1572 in den Glockenturm. Quelle: Wick, Johann Jakob: [Sammlung von Nachrichten zur Zeitgeschichte aus den Jahren 1560-87 (mit älteren Stücken)]. Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms. F 21, 142v–143r. (Bild: Zentralbibliothek Zürich)

Der Zürcher Reformator Heinrich Bullinger korrespondierte in ganze Europa, seine Briefe dokumentierten die Geschichte und Kultur während der Reformation. Eine Ausstellung an der Universität Zürich samt Publikation und Rahmenprogramm zeigt, welchen Einfluss Zwinglis Nachfolger auf die damalige Deutung von Ereignissen hatte.Am 7. Mai 1572 entlädt sich – nach Jahren extremer Wetterlagen und Ernteausfällen – auch noch der Himmel über Zürich und ein Blitz schlägt ins Grossmünster ein, das Epizentrum der Zürcher Reformation. Was heute als Naturphänomen verstanden wird, war in Zeiten konfessioneller Richtungskämpfe als Zeichen Gottes interpretiert worden. Erste Gerüchte machten die Runde, die im Blitzschlag einen göttlichen Fingerzeig gegen die Zürcher Kirchenoberen sahen. Heinrich Bulliger, Zwinglis Nachfolger als Reformator, erkannte die Gefahr von Fehlinterpretationen und verschickte Briefe, in denen er das Ereignis relativierte. Seine sachlichen Schilderungen schrieb er auf ein separates Blatt, das von Hand kopiert und weitergereicht werden konnte. So griff Bullinger möglichen Falschmeldungen vor und wahrte die Deutungshoheit über den «göttlichen» Blitzschlag.

Read the whole!

Heroes of the Faith

Todestag von Marga Meusel, der Kämpferin gegen die Not „nichtarischer“ Christinnen und Christen

Die aus Oberschlesien stammende Marga Meusel arbeitete auf verschiedenen Gebieten der kirchlichen Sozialfürsorge in der Landeskirche der Altpreußischen Union. 1932 übernahm sie die Leitung des Evangelischen Bezirkswohlfahrtsamtes e.V. der Inneren Mission im Burckhardthaus in Berlin-Zehlendorf, eine Einrichtung in der jährlich Hunderte von Menschen, überwiegend Frauen, werdende und ledige Mütter, Erholungsbedürftige, Alkoholiker sowie Arbeits- und Obdachlose Unterstützung suchten.

Die nationalsozialistische Rassenideologie lehnte Meusel von Anfang an ab. Engagiert setzte sie sich nach 1933 für Christinnen und Christen jüdischer Herkunft ein. In ihrer 1935 verfassten Denkschrift schilderte Marga Meusel deren Not und betonte die Gleichstellung aller Getauften in der Kirche. Sie forderte die Bekennende Kirche dazu auf, eine Hilfsstelle einzurichten. Die Denkschrift sollte im Juni der Dritten Reichsbekenntnissynode in Augsburg vorgelegt werden. Dazu kam es nicht.
Mit dem Beginn der Deportationen 1941 half Meusel Verfolgten mit Unterkunft, Lebensmittel und Ausweispapieren. 1943 wurde sie wegen antinazistischer Äußerungen denunziert, doch die Denunziantin widerrief.

Meusel setzte nach Kriegsende ihre Arbeit in Berlin fort. Über den kirchlichen Kurs nach 1945 zeigte sie sich tief enttäuscht. Physisch und psychisch erschöpft, versuchte sie vergeblich eine andere Arbeit zu finden. Am 16. Mai 1953 starb sie einsam in Berlin.

Mehr erfahren: https://de.evangelischer-widerstand.de/#/menschen/Meusel

Zwingli Can’t Go to Baden

zwingl_badenIn 1525 the project of the disputation was revived. The Bishop of Constance chose Baden as the place. Zwingli declared his willingness, if necessary, to go to Schaffhausen or St. Gall, but the city Great Council refused him permission to go out of Zurich. The Diet at Luzern, on January 15, 1526, determined on Baden as the place and May 16, 1526, as the time.

Zwingli’s correspondence of 1526 shows clearly the course of events. After the disputation was determined upon there was uncertainty in regard to the place. Bern favoured Basel. Other cantons wanted Luzern. Œcolampadius naturally preferred Bern. Zwingli did not want to go out of Zurich. Perhaps his physical condition had something to do with it. Œcolampadius, on March 7, 1526, alluded to his having ulcers.

Zwingli himself, writing to Vadianus on Friday, March 30th, tells of an alarming attack of illness which had occurred that day. On April 16, 1526, Zwingli wrote a long letter to the City Council of Bern giving his reasons why he would not go to Baden for the disputation, although anxious to debate in such a presence.

The nine reasons amount to this—that the safe conduct and protection which Bern promised were really valueless under the circumstances because at Baden the Five Forest Cantons, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Luzern, and Zug, devoted to the old teaching, would outvote the other three cantons of Zurich, Bern, and Basel, devoted to the new.

He then proceeds to give his reasons for declining to go to any place where the Five Cantons had control.  

  1. Those cantons had condemned him unheard as a heretic and burnt his books.
  2. They still persist in doing so.  
  3. They have avowedly gotten up the disputation for the purpose of silencing him.  
  4. As they have ordered him arrested, contrary to federal law, what value would their safe conduct have?  
  5. They are bound by mutual vows to uproot the faith he professed.
  6. Their negotiations for the disputation were with Eck and Faber exclusively, not with him, he not being in any way consulted.
  7. While Eck’s and Faber’s writings are freely circulated in the Five Cantons, his were suppressed.
  8. He had two years before plainly told Eck and company that under no consideration would he go to Baden or Luzern.

Baden was not attended by Zwingli but it was by Oecolampadius, who kept Zwingli informed of all the doings.

The Battle Of Frankenhausen Raged…

On May 16, 1525 (having commenced the day before): it was the low water mark of the wretched Peasants Revolt.  As Schaff describes things:

The peasants, badly armed, poorly led, and divided among themselves, were utterly defeated by the troops of the Landgrave Philip of Hesse, Duke Henry of Brunswick, the Elector John, and the Dukes George and John of Saxony. In the decisive battle at Frankenhausen, May 25, 1525, five thousand slain lay on the field and in the streets; three hundred were beheaded before the court-house. Muenzer fled, but was taken prisoner, tortured, and executed [on May 27th].

The peasants in South Germany, in the Alsace and Lorraine, met with the same defeat by the imperial troops and the forces of the electors of the Palatinate and Treves, and by treachery. In the castle of Zabern, in the Alsace (May 17), eighteen thousand peasants fell. In the Tyrol and Salzburg, the rebellion lasted longest, and was put down in part by arbitration.

The number of victims of war far exceeded a hundred thousand. The surviving rebels were beheaded or mutilated. Their widows and orphans were left destitute. Over a thousand castles and convents lay in ashes, hundreds of villages were burnt to the ground, the cattle killed, agricultural implements destroyed, and whole districts turned into a wilderness. “Never,” said Luther, after the end of the war, “has the aspect of Germany been more deplorable than now.”

The Peasants’ War was a complete failure, and the victory of the princes an inglorious revenge. The reaction made their condition worse than ever. Very few masters had sufficient humanity and self-denial to loosen the reins. Most of them followed the maxim of Rehoboam: “My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions” (1 Kings 12:14). The real grievances remained, and the prospect of a remedy was put off to an indefinite future.

The cause of the Reformation suffered irreparable injury, and was made responsible by the Romanists, and even by Erasmus, for all the horrors of the rebellion.

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice, to rebel.  How foolish were the followers of the radicals, to believe that God would give them victory.  They paid for their folly.

Calvin on the Schismatics and their Insulting Words About Zwingli and Oecolampadius

Melanchthon showed Calvin an anti-Zwingli anti-Oecolampadius pamphlet written by a schismatic and Calvin remarked

What good purpose could it serve to assault the Zwinglians every third line, and to attack Zwingli himself in such an unmannerly style?   And not even to spare Oecolampadius, that holy servant of God, whom I wish that he resembled, even in being half as good, in which case he would certainly stand far higher in my esteem than he does. O God of grace, what pleasant sport and pastime do we afford to the Papists, as if we had hired ourselves to do their work!”

The last line means that Calvin saw these schismatics as doing more harm to the Reformation than the Papists could ever hope.