Today With Luther: Katie Luther’s Birthday

katie lutherOnce more, from the folk at Sachsen-Anhalt

The flowers are a birthday gift from an anonymous admirer. This year in brilliant yellow! Sure Katie would have loved it!

And from the undersigned:

Katharina (Katie) was born on January 29, 1499, to Hans and Katherina (nee von Haubitz) von Bora, a family of the lower German nobility. She was most likely born in the area of Hirschfeld near Meißen in Saxony. Although nobility, her parents were not rich. Her mother died and her father remarried when she was 5 years old. She was then sent to live in the convent at Brehna. She lived here for five years until the age of ten when her father moved her to a convent at Nimbschen near Grimma where two of her aunts, Margarethe von Haubitz and Magdelena von Bora, also lived.

In the convents, Katie lived a simple life with a strict routine. Her day consisted of regular worship and chores. It was here that he learned many things about cooking for large groups, sewing, beer making, and other domestic chores that would serve her so well later on when she was the mistress of the Black Cloister.  -Rebecca DeGarmeaux

Happy birthday to the backbone of the Lutheran branch of the Reformation.

Today With Zwingli: The First Zurich Disputation

The opening statement by the representative of the government of Zurich reads

zurich“Very learned, venerable, noble, steadfast, honourable, wise, ecclesiastical lords and friends: In my lords’ city of Zurich and in its territories there has risen for some time discord and strife on account of the sermons and doctrine given to the people from the pulpit by our preacher here in Zurich, Master Ulrich Zwingli. Wherefore he has been reproached and spoken against by some as a false guide, by others as a heretic. So it has come about that not alone in our city of Zurich but in the country under the authority of my lords such discord among the priests, also among the laity, increases, and daily come complaints to my lords about it, until it seems that there is no end to such angry words and quarrelling.

On this account Master Ulrich Zwingli has offered often from the public pulpit to give before everybody the rationale and ground of his preaching and doctrine delivered here in Zurich in an open disputation before numerous clergy and laity. The honourable Council has granted this request of Master Ulrich with a view to stop the great unrest and disputing, has allowed him to hold a public disputation in the German language before the Great Council of Zurich, as the Two Hundred are called, to which the honourable wise Council has invited all the people’s priests and curates of the canton; also solicited the venerable lord and prince, etc., Bishop of Constance; on which his Grace has kindly sent the deputation here present, for which the honourable Council of Zurich expresses especial great thanks.

Therefore, if anyone now present has any displeasure or doubts over the preaching and doctrines of Master Ulrich here has given from the pulpit, or knows to speak about the matter, as that such preaching and doctrine were and must be not correct but seditious or heretical, let him here before my lords convict the oft-mentioned Master Ulrich of untruthfulness, and in this presence here confute his error by Holy Scripture freely, boldly, and without fear of punishment, so that my lords may be spared hereafter daily complaints, whence originate discord and disunity. For my lords are tired of such complaints, which tend to increase constantly from the clergy and laity alike.”

Over 600 Clerics and interested citizens were in attendance and at the end of it all the Zwinglian Reformation of Christianity in the City and Canton were established as the course of action which would be taken.

Worship was reformed and theology – as the basis of right worship and conduct – would no longer be based on tradition, but upon Scripture alone. And it all commenced on the 29th of January, 1523.

Rudolf Pfister on the First Zurich Disputation

In an essay in Zwingliana Rudolf Pfister discusses the situation in the Church in the wake of the debate. Pfister’s assertion that the core argument Zwingli offered, that Scripture is the final court of appeal for Church and faith, is doubtless correct.

Revolutionär muß die Grundforderung der Reformation genannt werden, die Heilige Schrift des Alten und Neuen Testamentes sei alleiniges Kriterium für «Kirche und Glaube». Am Schluß der 67 Schlußreden schrieb Zwingli, niemand solle versuchen, sie «mit sophistry oder menschentandt » zu bekämpfen, man müsse vielmehr «die geschrifft für ein Richter» anerkennen. Im Ingreß zu diesen Sätzen heißt es, die Schrift sei «theopneustos», «das ist vonn gott ingesprochen». Mit anderen Worten, auch jetzt, bei diesem Streitgespräch sollte das Wort Gottes als Zeugnis der Wahrheit oberster Richter sein.

Though modern Protestants take for granted that Scripture is the supreme authority, things were quite different in the 16th century. Astonishingly different.

It’s a very nice essay and since it’s ‘The First Zurich Disputation Day’ today, worth a look.

Paul Luther

On this day in 1533 Luther wrote a friend

A son was just born to me, and I am a father again. Please help the poor fellow get where he belongs.  He was born the first hour during the night of January 28 in the year 1533, and he was named Paul. I’ve had him named Paul because St. Paul furnished me with many a good passage and argument, and so I wish to honor him by naming a son after him. God grant my son grace!  “I intend to send my children away [when they’re grown]. Any of them who wants to be a soldier I’ll send to Hans Loeser. Dr. Jonas and Philip will have any of them who may want to study. And if one wants to toil Ill dispatch him to a peasant.”

Paul was corpulent, like his dad-

Paul_Luther

Christian Theologians Resisting Hitler: Remembering Theophil Wurm

Theophil Wurm

Am 7. Dezember 1868 wurde Theophil Wurm in Basel geboren. Sein Vater war Lehrer am Basler Missionshaus und später Dekan in Blaubeuren. Nach der Schulzeit studierte Theophil Wurm Theologie in Tübingen. 1899 wurde er Pfarrer für Gefangenenseelsorge bei der Evangelischen Gesellschaft in Stuttgart. 1901 wurde er zum Geschäftsführer der Evangelischen Gesellschaft ernannt. 1913 wurde er Stadtpfarrer in Ravensburg.

Mit dem Ende des Ersten Weltkriegs wurde Theophil Wurm Abgeordneter der deutsch-nationalen Bürgerpartei in der Verfassungsgebenden Landesversammlung. Sein Mandat gab er 1920 ab, als er Dekan in Reutlingen wurde. 1927 stieg Wurm zum Prälaten von Heilbronn auf und bereits 1929 wurde er zum württembergischen Kirchenpräsidenten gewählt. 1933 wurde ihm der Titel „Landesbischof“ angetragen, den er bis 1949 führte.

Aufgrund seiner volkskirchlich-konservativen Haltung begegnete Wurm den Nationalsozialisten zunächst mit einer positiven Erwartungshaltung. Als ihm die antikirchliche und antihumane Haltung des NS-Systems zunehmend deutlich wurde, legte er bei Regierungsstellen entschieden Protest ein, so gegen die Verdrängung der Kirche aus dem Erziehungsbereich, die Krankenmorde und die Vernichtung der Juden. Zu einem öffentlichen Protest konnte er sich aufgrund seines Obrigkeitsverständnisses aber nicht durchringen.

Nach Kriegsende wurde Wurm zum entscheidenden Faktor bei der Neukonstituierung der evangelischen Kirche; bis 1948 war er der erste Ratsvorsitzende der EKD. Theophil Wurm starb am 28. Januar 1953 in Stuttgart.

Today With Zwingli: The Unpublished Sermon on Worship of the Saints

On July 17th, Zwingli had a debate with Francis Lambert of Avignon, a Franciscan monk of twenty years’ standing, and prominent in the order. The subject was the Intercession of the Saints. Lambert had already imbibed Reformation ideas and was under the suspicion of his brethren, but had not yet left his order. In the debate Zwingli took the extreme Protestant position, and Lambert made but a feeble opposition. At the conclusion he expressed himself as Zwingli’s convert. The incident is interesting as showing that Zwingli had broken with the Old Church on a point of great practical importance.

Long previous to the debate Zwingli had preached on the topic and had meditated publishing his sermons, but he never did so. Cf. Haller’s letter of January 28, 1522 (vii., 189), in which he said that he was daily expecting to read Zwingli’s sermon on the worship of the saints.

Zwingli discussed the debate in a letter shortly afterwards:

“You should know that a certain Franciscan from France, whose name indeed was Franz, was here not many days since and had much conversation with me concerning the Scriptural basis for the doctrine of the adoration of the saints and their intercession for us. He was not able to convince me with the assistance of a single passage of Scripture that the saints do pray for us, as he had with a great deal of assurance boasted he should do. At last he went on to Basel, where he recounted the affair in an entirely different way from the reality—in fact he lied about it. So it seemed good to me to let you know about these things that you might not be ignorant of that Cumæan lion, if perchance he should ever turn your way.

“There followed within six days another strife with our brethren the preachers of the [different orders in Zurich, especially with the Augustinians]. Finally the burgomaster and the Council appointed for them three commissioners on whom this was enjoined—that Aquinas and the rest of the doctors of that class being put aside they should base their arguments alone upon those sacred writings which are contained in the Bible. This troubled those beasts so much that one brother, the father reader of the order of Preachers [i. e., the Dominicans] cut loose from us, and we wept—as one weeps when a cross-grained and rich stepmother has departed this life. Meanwhile there are those who threaten, but God will turn the evil upon His enemies.

“I suppose you have read the petition which some of us have addressed to the Bishop of Constance.… But I must return to Schuerer upstairs, where he is having some beer with several gentlemen and jokes will be in order.*

It’s a shame the sermon was never published.  It must have been fantastic.

_____________________
*S.M. Jackson

The Saved and the Damned

It’s a forthcoming book by Thomas Kaufmann (one of my favorite Reformation scholars).

The Reformation began far from Europe’s traditional political, economic, and cultural power centres, and yet it threw the whole continent into turmoil. There has been intense speculation over the last century focusing on the political and social causes that lay at the root of this revolution. Thomas Kaufmann, one of the world’s leading experts on the Reformation, sees the most important drivers for what happened in religion itself. The reformers were principally concerned with the question of salvation. It could all have ended with the pope’s condemnation of Luther and his teaching. But Luther believed the pope was condemned to eternal damnation, and this was the root cause of the great split to come. Hatred of the damned drove people to take up arms, while countless numbers left their homes far behind and carried the Reformation message to the furthest corners of the earth in the hope of salvation.

In The Saved and the Damned, Thomas Kaufmann presents a dramatic overview of how Europe was transformed by the seismic shock of the Reformation–and of how its aftershocks reverberate right down to the present day.

This English edition is the translation of this volume.

 

Die Theologie Calvins im Rahmen der europäischen Reformation

Der Versuch einer Gesamtdarstellung des theologischen Werkes Calvins ist seit der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts nicht mehr unternommen worden. Das Jubeljahr 2009 hat eine Fülle ausgezeichneter Einzel- studien und Sammelwerke besonders auf dem Gebiet der biographischen und historischen, zum Teil auch der systematischen Forschung hervorgebracht. Doch die Interessen der älteren Forschung ließen sich damit nicht befriedigen.

Damals fragte man: Gibt es eine “Mitte”, eine Art Gravitationszentrum seiner Theologie, vergleichbar der Rechtfertigungslehre im Luthertum, um das sich die Themen und Perspektiven seiner Theologie gruppieren ließen? Von der Abendmahlslehre lässt sich das nicht sagen. Auch die Suche nach einem “Central-dogma” (Alexander Schweizer), einer Art “Materialprinzip”, hat sich als ein Irrweg erwiesen. Der Schluss liegt nahe, dass schon die Frage nach einem solchen einheitstiftenden Prinzip oder Schlüssel falsch gestellt sein könnte, sich jedenfalls nicht mit der Angabe eines inhaltlichen Elementes oder Problems seiner Theologie beantworten lässt. An dieser Erwartung jedenfalls sollte man Calvin nicht länger messen. Auf sehr viel sichererem Boden steht man, wenn man sich, auch systematisch fragend, an die von ihm selbst aus seinen exegetischen Arbeiten hervorgegangenen Gliederungsgesichtspunkte der Institutio hält. Da ist zweimal pointiert von der Erkenntnis Gottes (aus der Natur und aus der Schrift) die Rede, sodann von der subjektiven Aneignung dieser Erkenntnisse im christlichen Leben und schließlich, gleichsam als Konvergenzpunkt des Ganzen, von der schriftgemäßen Verfassung der Kirche, die der Ort der Bewährung jener Erkenntnisse sein sollte.

Von diesem Zielpunkt aus und auf ihn bezogen steht das Erkenntnisproblem – konkret:die möglichst genaue Textinterpretation – im Zentrum der vorliegenden Arbeit. Dabei meint Erkenntnis nicht das theoretische Verhalten des modernen Zuschauers, sondern setzt dessen Einbezogensein, sein “Mitspielen”, also seine verantwortliche Teilnahme an der Schöpfung, an dem Prozess der Versöhnung und am Weg der Kirche voraus. Denn die biblische Voraussetzung, dass er, der Mensch, es in jeder Lebenslage mit dem lebendigen Gott zu tun hat und von ihm auf den Weg gesetzt wird, ist der eigentliche Lebensnerv des calvinischen Unterrichts.

This is one of the easiest books to review that I’ve ever reviewed.  Not because it is an ‘easy’ book.  Indeed, it is very thought provoking.  Rather, it is easy to review because all I need to say is that it is a volume you should read if Calvin or Calvin’s theology are of interest to you.

If you wonder what Calvin thought about baptism, there’s a section.  Predestination?  There’s a section.  Do you wonder what Calvin taught about the Supper?  Well you’re in luck, because there’s a section.

The volume consists of section by section explanations of every single important theological topic as addressed by Calvin in his voluminous writings.  Christian Link does a fantastic job of summarizing and clarifying Calvin’s theology.  Link provides to readers what I will call a handbook on Calvin’s theology.  Calvin’s own voice is heard, though, through Link’s extraordinary ‘exposition’ of the great Reformer’s theology.

Additionally, in the final (8th) segment of the book, Link examines Calvinism’s outworking in Europe and North America along with the political aspects of his theology, the economic aspects, and the cultural aspects.

The volume naturally also includes a list of abbreviations, a bibliography, an index of persons, and a subject index.

As I said at the beginning, this was an easy book to review:  It’s superb.  What Henry David Thoreau said of excellent books can be said of this book truly-

“A truly good book is something as natural, and as unexpectedly and unaccountably fair and perfect, as a wild flower discovered on the prairies of the West or in the jungles of the East.”

Among the great wide landscape of books on Calvin, this is a fair and perfect one.

Fun Facts from Church History: The Martyr of Einsiedeln and The Founding of a Monastery

The story of Einsiedeln is worth repeating. The name comes from “einsiedler,” a hermit; hence the Latin name for the place is “Emitarum Cœnobium.” Meinrad was the hermit from whom it derived its origin. He was a native of Rottenburg, twenty-five miles south-west of Stuttgart, but was educated in the famous Benedictine abbey school on the island of Reichenau in the Untersee, three and one half miles north-west of Constance, and after a brief experience as a secular priest became a monk in that monastery.

At some later date he was sent to teach at the abbey’s branch school at Oberbollingen, on the Lake of Zurich, near its eastern end and twenty miles from Zurich. Across the lake were mountains and dense forests, and as he day by day gazed towards them he was seized with the desire to bury himself in those solitudes and so cut himself off from contact with men. Accordingly he crossed the lake in the year 829 and made his way to the pass of the Etzel, a small mountain a couple of miles south of the Lake of Zurich and some twenty miles south-east of Zurich, and lived on the spot for some seven years. He had the same experience which distressed many other hermits—his solitude was invaded—so he removed to another spot in the “Gloomy Forest,” as the forest was called, to the plain where Einsiedeln is built, about four miles south of his first abode.

There beside a spring he put up his hut and a little place for prayer. On Tuesday, January 21, 861, he was visited by two men who, probably under the misapprehension that he had hidden treasure, murdered him. Forty years later there were a number of hermits living where the martyr had fallen. Thirty years more and the huts had been abandoned for a regular conventual building.

In 948 the chapel of Meinrad was enclosed in a church. Conrad, Bishop of Constance, in whose diocese Einsiedeln was till the beginning of this century, came down to dedicate this enclosing church to the Virgin Mary and the holy martyr Mauritius, and at the same time St. Meinrad’s chapel to the Virgin Mary. But at midnight preceding the day set for the dedication, (Thursday, Sept. 14, 948) while the Bishop and some of the monks were praying in the church, they heard angelic voices singing in the chapel the dedicatory service. Consequently he refused the next day to undertake the duty for which he had come, as far as the chapel was concerned, declaring that it had already been consecrated and in a sublime manner.

But, over-persuaded, he proceeded to read the service. Scarcely had he begun, when a voice was heard by all, saying, Stop, brother, God has already dedicated the chapel.” The speaker was the Angel of the Covenant, the Lord Jesus Christ, so the dedication is known as the Angelic Dedication; in German “Engelweihe,” meaning by “angel” the Lord Jesus Christ.*

Einsiedeln was the most popular pilgrimage site in Switzerland in the 16th century. And when the Reformation took hold in Zurich, pilgrimages there were stopped.

___________________
*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), 99–101.

Jch bin das brot des läbens

Die Froschauer-Bibel von 1531 stellt ein besonderes Zeitdokument der schweizerisch-deutschen Sprache zur Reformationszeit dar. Das ungewohnte Schriftbild macht diese Zürcher Bibel in der originalen Ausgabe jedoch schwer lesbar. Niklaus Ulrich hat sie deshalb in langjähriger Arbeit vollständig transkribiert. Im Rahmen des 500-Jahre-Jubiläums gibt nun die Kirchgemeinde Grossmünster in Zürich unter der Projektleitung von Martin Rüsch das Neue Testament und die Psalmen in dieser transkribierten Fassung heraus. Zum ersten Mal sind damit durch Zwingli aus dem Urtext ins Deutsche übertragene Texte als normale Buchausgabe erhältlich. Um der einstigen, schweizerdeutsch anmutenden Sprache besser folgen zu können, ist der Text von 2007 synoptisch daneben gesetzt. Somit liegt zum Amtsantritt Zwinglis am Grossmünster vor 500 Jahren ein reformations-, kultur- und sprachgeschichtliches Schlüsseldokument jener Zeit vor.

The Old Testament side of things is reviewed here.

I feel like I should just repeat what I said there.  I have the same notions regarding the present volume as I do that one and as of this moment, they sit side by side in places of honor on my most used most referenced shelf of books.

The volume is comprised of the New Testament (in the order with which we are all most familiar) along with the Psalms.  The original introduction to the 1531 edition is also included.  Also included are some of the woodcuts that adorned the original edition:

Honestly, have you ever seen anything more beautiful? It’s the Bible.  It’s the product of the gathered scholars of the Prophezei in Zurich, published in 1531 along with the modern Zurich Bible.  It’s two editions, indeed, two of the best editions of the New Testament yet published.  And they’re bound together under one cover.  It’s a 16th century bible and a 21st century bible in one volume.

If you love the Bible, you will doubly love this volume.  Get it.  Read it.  Enjoy it!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to hug.  And read some more.  And enjoy.

The Last Attempt to Stop the Reformation In Zurich: The Anniversary of its Failure

second_zurich_dispPursuant to the order of the Council, on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 19 and 20, 1524, Canon Hofmann, chief representative of the Old Party among the priesthood, met the three people’s priests, and six theologians and six councillors, in private sessions, and attempted to defend the old usages. But the commission decided that he had not made out his points from Scripture, and so the Council voted that the canons must give outward assent to the Council’s orders or leave the city.

With this last desperate attempt the Old Party closed their efforts, and there was no further formal opposition in Zurich to the Reformation. One by one, as the people were fully able to stand it, and understand it, those practices of the Old Church which Zwingli considered objectionable were removed. The saints’ days passed unobserved; the procession to Einsiedeln which had taken place annually on Monday after Pentecost (that year May 16th), and which was made much of, was permanently abolished, by order of Council, the preceding Saturday; the reliques were by similar order, June 15th, taken from the churches and reverently buried; the organs were removed and the ringing of the church bells during a tempest, even the tolling for funerals, stopped.

Masses for the dead, processions of clergy, payment for confession, blessing of palms, holy water, candles, and extreme unction, all became things of the past. The removal of the pictures, statues, images, and other ornaments from the churches was accomplished in the city between Saturday, July 2d, and Sunday, July 17th. Similar scenes took place all over the canton. The next step, and one which like the others was carefully weighed, was the abolition of the convents and monasteries in the city and canton of Zurich.*

_______________
*Jackson, S. M., Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (pp. 223–225).

Today With Zwingli: The Complete Triumph of the Reformation in Zurich

Pursuant to the order of the Council, on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 19 and 20, 1524, Canon Hofmann, chief representative of the Old Party among the priesthood, met the three people’s priests, and six theologians and six councillors, in private sessions, and attempted to defend the old usages. But the commission decided that he had not made out his points from Scripture, and so the Council voted that the canons must give outward assent to the Council’s orders or leave the city.

With this last desperate attempt the Old Party closed their efforts, and there was no further formal opposition in Zurich to the Reformation. One by one, as the people were fully able to stand it, and understand it, those practices of the Old Church which Zwingli considered objectionable were removed.

  • The saints’ days passed unobserved;
  • the procession to Einsiedeln which had taken place annually on Monday after Pentecost (that year May 16th), and which was made much of, was permanently abolished, by order of Council, the preceding Saturday;
  • the reliques were by similar order, June 15th, taken from the churches and reverently buried;
  • the organs were removed and the ringing of the church bells during a tempest, even the tolling for funerals, stopped.
  • Masses for the dead, processions of clergy, payment for confession, blessing of palms, holy water, candles, and extreme unction, all became things of the past.
  • The removal of the pictures, statues, images, and other ornaments from the churches was accomplished in the city between Saturday, July 2d, and Sunday, July 17th.

Similar scenes took place all over the canton. The next step, and one which like the others was carefully weighed, was the abolition of the convents and monasteries in the city and canton of Zurich. This was determined upon on December 3, 1524. All the monks were gathered into the Franciscan monastery, and the Dominicans and Augustinians were not allowed to return to their old homes. Most of them decided to leave the monastery and make their living as best they might.

The nuns of the Oetenbach and Selnau convents had already been united in the former building. The convent attached to the Frau Münster, through its abbess, on December 5th, surrendered itself to the city, and that attached to the Great Minster on December 20th. The revenue of the latter was appropriated at Zwingli’s suggestion to a classical school of high grade, and generally speaking that which came to the city from such sources to good purposes, as relief of the poor or sick.*

The complete triumph of Reform was achieved in 1524. The city, canton and many of the other cantons would never return to the domination of Rome.

____________________
*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), 223–225.

Frederick the Wise

fred the wiseJanuary 17, 1463, Frederick III of Saxony, known as Frederick the Wise, was born in Hartenfels Castle, Torgau, Saxony, to Elector Ernest of Saxony and Elisabeth of Bavaria. When his father died in 1486, he succeeded him as territorial Elector.

Frederick’s main concern as ruler was political reform. He felt that the position of Emperor was becoming too strong and worked to turn some of that power to the nobles.

In 1502, Frederick founded the University of Wittenberg. Frederick was a friend of George Spalatin who suggested that a young Martin Luther would be a good fit at the new school. Philipp Melanchthon was also soon brought on to the faculty.

Frederick kept diligent oversight of his university, paying careful attention to what was happening there. He made sure that Luther had safe passage to the Diet of Worms and received a fair hearing. Afterwards, when Luther’s life was in danger, he arranged for Luther’s stay at the Wartburg Castle.

Scholars differ on Frederick’s motives for his protection of Luther. Although he had helped to put Charles V into power as Emperor, he also felt it was his personal duty to see that Luther, as his subject and as a professor at his university, was treated justly. In addition, Frederick was a man of learning. He did not want Luther punished for his ideas without them being thoroughly studied. Finally, Frederick saw much truth in Luther’s “new” teachings. He remained Roman Catholic his entire life, but was influenced by Luther’s teachings.

Frederick the Wise died May 5, 1525, just one month before Martin andKatie Luther’s wedding. His most direct influence on her life was to assure that the Lutheran faith be taught. It was these teachings which found their way to Katie in the convent and gave her the courage to escape and find a new life in Wittenberg.

This painting of Frederick the Wise is by Albrecht Dürer from either 1496 or 1500 and is in the public domain.

-Rebecca DeGarmeaux

Today With Zwingli: Radicals in Zurich

zw45In the middle of January, 1525, Zwingli and the other Pastors in Zurich were in a pitched battle against the radicals who were then urging their followers to abandon the Reformation and speed ahead with a total severance from society.  1525 would become the year during which Zwingli spent the majority of his time battling these ’causers of unrest’.

Indeed, things had already developed to such a threatening level to the well being of the city that in December the year before Zwingli had written  his scathing Wer Ursache gebe zu Aufruhr. In March of 1525 Zwingli published De vera et falsa religione commentarius, which took a swipe at both the old believers and the radicals.   In April the trial of some rebaptizers was observed by Zwingli; in May his Von der Taufe… appeared.   In June, Von den Predigtamt took to task those asserting pastoral and preaching privileges even though they lacked the appropriate tools.  And in November, the Antwort über Balthasar Hubmaiers Taufbüchlein saw the light of day.

All of these books were ‘conflict’ oriented and 1525 was perhaps the most conflict ridden of Zwingli’s life.   And that doesn’t take into account the opening of a front against an inaccurate understanding of the Lord’s Supper which was then developing and would come to a head at Marburg.

Notwithstanding all these disputations and difficulties, Zwingli maintained a cheerful disposition.  Depression and despair would stay away until 1531, when early in the summer, he would try to resign.  But of course now’s not the time for that particular discussion.

Zwingli’s Answer to Eck

215296Huldrcyh Zwingli and Johannes Eck didn’t get along very well.  Eck wrote several attacks on Zwingli and Zwingli responded with equal vigor.

On the 15th of January, 1526, it seems that Zwingli had had just about enough.  Responding to a pamphlet Eck had written to the Swiss Confederation, Zwingli penned Eine Abschrift oder Kopie des Geleitbriefes an Johannes Eck in which he denounces Eck’s assertion that ‘Zwingli was worse than Luther or Carlstadt, the Hussites and the Jews!’  He informs the Confederation that Eck is not only an enemy of the Gospel, he is also no friend of the Swiss.

This exchange was the last substantial argument between the two.  Zwingli ignored Eck afterwards (though he wrote him a really scathing letter, he never sent it).

Such events are a good reminder that the 16th century was a period of Church history in which foes pulled out all the stops.    Or maybe foes were just more honest about their feelings (in contrast to the limpid and uninspiring debates these days between theologians).

The Birth Anniversary of Martin Niemöller

Fewer people made a firmer stand against Nazism than M.N.  He was an amazingly impressive and courageous man.niemoller

Martin Niemöller wurde am 14. Januar 1892 in Lippstadt geboren. Er wuchs in einem Pfarrhaus auf. 1910 schlug er eine Offizierslaufbahn in der kaiserlichen Marine ein und nahm am Ersten Weltkrieg als Marineoffizier teil. Nach dem Theologiestudium wurde er 1923 Geschäftsführer der westfälischen Inneren Mission in Münster und 1931 Pfarrer in Berlin-Dahlem. Seit 1933 war er Mitbegründer, führendes Mitglied und kompromissloser Verfechter der Bekennenden Kirche.

Als deutschnationaler Gegner der Weimarer Republik wählte Martin Niemöller schon früh die NSDAP. In den ersten Monaten des Jahres 1933 setzte er große Hoffnungen in das neue Regime. Schnell erkannte er jedoch, dass die Nationalsozialisten der Kirche ihre Unabhängigkeit nehmen würden. Schon bald wurde er im In- und Ausland zur Symbolfigur des kirchlichen Widerstands gegen Hitler. Dieser Widerstand richtete sich gegen die Deutschen Christen und die nationalsozialistische Kirchenpolitik. So unterstützte er bei der Reichsbischofswahl im Frühjahr 1933 Friedrich von Bodelschwingh gegen den von Hitler protegierten Deutschen Christen Ludwig Müller. Als die Deutschen Christen im Sommer 1933 in fast allen Landeskirchen die Macht übernommen hatten und den „Arierparagraph“ einführten, gründete er im Herbst 1933 den Pfarrernotbund, eine Selbsthilfeorganisation für oppositionelle Pfarrer. Von Anfang an war er eine zentrale Gestalt in der Bekennenden Kirche.

Seine Überzeugungen von einer streng nach den Beschlüssen der Reichsbekenntnissynoden geordneten evangelischen Kirche vertrat er ebenso kompromisslos wie seine Kritik an der nationalsozialistischen Kirchenpolitik und den staatlichen Verfolgungsmaßnahmen gegen die Bekennende Kirche. Für die Nationalsozialisten galt Niemöller als Staatsfeind. Im Januar 1934 wagte er es, Hitler bei einem Empfang von Kirchenvertretern zu widersprechen. Er sagte ihm ins Gesicht, dass sich die Kirche die Verantwortung für das deutsche Volk nicht abnehmen lassen könne. 1935 wandte er sich in seinen Predigten gegen jede Art der Verfolgung, auch von Juden. Wenn der Staat befehle, etwas Böses zu tun, müssten die Christen Gott mehr gehorchen als den Menschen. Als sich die BK 1936 spaltete, hielt er sich zu ihrem „radikalen“ Teil, der jede Beteiligung an den kirchenpolitischen Maßnahmen des Staates verweigerte.

Am 27. Juni 1937 predigte er zum letzten Mal in Berlin-Dahlem. Dabei prangerte er die jüngst über die Bekennende Kirche hereingebrochene Verhaftungswelle an und verkündete, die Kirche werde auf menschliche Anordnung hin nicht verschweigen, was Gott zu sagen befohlen habe: Denn es bleibt und wird dabei bleiben, solange die Welt steht: ‚Man muß Gott mehr gehorchen als den Menschen‘! Kurz darauf wurde er von der Gestapo verhaftet.

Kaum ein evangelischer Pfarrer änderte seine Überzeugungen nach Kriegsende so radikal wie Martin Niemöller. Der begeisterte Marineoffizier wurde zum Pazifisten. Der Abkömmling einer antisemitischen Tradition wandelte sich zum Gegner jeder Form des Rassismus. Der kaisertreue Monarchist verstand sich an seinem Lebensende schließlich als Revolutionär. Gleich blieb aber die Kompromisslosigkeit, mit der er seine Ansichten vertrat. Die Gründung der Bundesrepublik lehnte er ab, da sie für ihn die deutsche Teilung besiegelte. Dem neuen westdeutschen Staat warf er schäbigsten Materialismus vor. Vehement sprach er sich gegen die Wiederbewaffnung und die Stationierung von Atomwaffen aus. Er war Teilnehmer am ersten Ostermarsch 1958 in England und wurde in der deutschen Friedensbewegung aktiv. Bei seinen zahlreichen Auslandsreisen besuchte er während des Kalten Krieges mehrfach kommunistische Länder. Sein Verhalten war stets polarisierend und brachte ihm unter Politikern, Theologen und in der Bevölkerung viele Gegner ein. Er selbst sah sich dabei stets von der Frage geleitet: „Was würde Jesus dazu sagen?“ Kurz vor seinem Tod im Alter von 92 Jahren am 6. März 1984 in Wiesbaden bemerkte er dazu, wer diese Frage für sich beantworte und sich danach richte, sei keinem genehm.

Bildnachweis © Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Bildnummer 30011224.  Weitere Informationen zu Martin Niemöller finden sie unter:
http://de.evangelischer-widerstand.de/#/menschen/Niemoeller