Zwingli’s First Letter to Erasmus, And Erasmus’ Funny Reply

2zwingli_writing1.jpg“To Erasmus of Rotterdam, great philosopher and theologian, Huldreich Zwingli sends greeting: When I am about to write to you, Dr. Erasmus, best of men, I am on the one hand frightened by the lustre of your learning, which demands a world larger than the one we see; and on the other hand I am invited by that well-known gentleness of yours which you manifested towards me, when in the early spring I came to Basel to see you, for it was an unusual proof of kindness that you did not despise a man who is a mere infant, an unknown smatterer. But you have granted this to the Swiss blood (which I perceive is not so greatly displeasing to you); you have granted it to Henry Glarean, whom I see you have taken into intimacy with yourself.

“You may have wondered greatly that I did not remain at home, since [when I got to Basel] I did not even seek the solution of some most difficult questions (as your own vain talkers are wont to do from you). But when you discover by reflection that what I looked for in you was that far-famed efficiency of yours, you will cease to wonder. For, by Hercules, I admire boldly and even shamelessly this which you have in perfection, together with a friendliness of manner and pleasantness of life. So that when I read your writings I seem to hear you speaking and to see you, with that finely proportioned little body of yours, gesticulating with elegance. For without boasting you are so much beloved by me that I cannot sleep without first holding converse with you.

“But why am I wearying your most learned ears with these uncouth sounds? For I am not ignorant that jackdaws should eat from the ground. Well, that you may know how far it was from being the fact that I was sorry for the journey that I made to see you (as did those Spaniards and Frenchmen, who, as the divine Jerome says, once went to Rome to see Livy), I think that I have made a great name for myself and make my boast in nothing else than this, that I have seen Erasmus—the man who has deserved most highly of letters and the secret things of Sacred Scripture, and who so burns with love to God and men that he thinks that whatever is done for the cause of good letters is done for himself. All good men ought to pray that God will preserve him in safety to the end that sacred literature freed by him from barbarism and sophistry may increase to a more perfect age and that the tender shoots bereaved of their great father may not be left without protection and care.

“But now, to bring this tragedy to a close, I in return for all those kindnesses which you have shown me have given you what Æschines gave to Socrates,—though not an equal value,—myself.1 But you do not receive this gift which is not worthy of you! I will add, more than the Corinthians did when scorned by Alexander—that I not only will give it to no other but never have done so. If you do not accept it even thus, it will be sufficient to have been repelled by you. For nothing will more contribute to the correction of one’s life than to have displeased such men. So whether you are willing or unwilling, you will, I hope, restore me in improved condition to myself. Finally, when you have used your possession in whatsoever manner is pleasing to you, farewell.

“GLARUS, April 29, 1515.”

And Erasmus sends back this response:

erasmus2“Erasmus of Rotterdam to Huldreich Zwingli at Glarus, a philosopher and theologian most learned, a friend beloved as a brother: Greeting.

“The fact that you are so well disposed towards me has been a very great delight to me, as is your letter, equally sprightly and learned. If I respond in short measure to this last, you must not lay it up against me. For by these labours, which seem to me as though they would never be finished, I am often compelled to be less kind than I would be to those to whom I least wish to be so; but to myself I am by far the most unkind, draining the resources of my intellect which not even a quintessence may restore. That the results of my lucubrations are approved by you, so approved a man, greatly rejoices me, and they are on this account less displeasing to me.

“I congratulate the Swiss, whose genius I particularly admire, upon the fact that you and men like you will embellish and ennoble them by your most excellent pursuits and customs, with Glareanus as leader and standard-bearer, who is not less pleasing to me on account of his marked and varied erudition than on account of his singular purity and integrity of life—a man, too, entirely devoted to yourself.

“It is my intention to revisit Brabant immediately after the Feast of Pentecost; at least so things are tending. But I do not willingly tear myself away from these regions.

“Be careful, my Huldreich, to use the pen now and then, which is the best master of speech. I see that Minerva is favourable if the training is maintained. I have written this at dinner, at the request of Glareanus, to whom I can deny nothing, no, not even if he should tell me to dance stark naked! Farewell. From Basel.”

Let’s hope Glarean never asked him to do that.  Had Erasmus not been so afraid of Rome, he would have made a fine Reformer.  Fear paralyzes even the great.

Erasmus as Forerunner of Luther and Zwingli

normal_Durer-Albrecht-Erasmus-Sun2016 ehrt die Reformationsstadt Basel Erasmus von Rotterdam. Denn der Humanist, der zeitlebens Katholik blieb, legte am Rheinknie die Basis für den Durchbruch von Luther und Zwingli.

2017 feiert die protestantische Welt Luthers Thesenanschlag am Kirchenportal zu Wittenberg. Der Akt bildet den Auftakt zur Reformation, die ganz Europa erschütterte. In Basel hingegen beginnt das Reformationsjubiläum schon 2016. Die Stadt ehrt Erasmus von Rotterdam. Der Theologe machte mit seiner Bibeledition und seinem Wirken die Reformation erst möglich. Trotzdem blieb er Katholik.

There is something to be said for Erasmus as ‘way-paver’ for the Reformation. He could, and would, never have gone as far as Luther and Zwingli, which is why he matter less. But he does matter and he’s worth remembering.

And a Happy Servetus Day to You All…

@jdmccafferty – 27 Oct 1553: Michael Servetus anti-Trinitarian thinker burnt at #Geneva #otd on a pyre of his own books (McGovern).

Servetus was a theological dilettante.  He should have stuck with medicine.

Calvin never wrote a book on medicine.  Do you know why?  Because that wasn’t his field!  If only everyone were like Calvin and stayed in their own lane.

#ICYMI – The Full Text of My ‘Reformation Day’ Post

The good folk at Logos asked if I might write a brief piece on the Reformers in preparation for ‘Reformation Day’ five years ago, way back in 2012.  They published my piece back then, in an edited version (shortened).  Naturally they are free to edit as they see fit and I’m happy enough with the result.

Nonetheless- here’s the full piece:

‘Reformation Day?  No!’

‘The Reformation’ is a misnomer if ever there were one, for in fact there was no ‘one’ Reformation any more than there was just one Reformer. ‘The Reformation’, when used by students and the general public, usually refers to the Reformation of Martin Luther which commenced at the end of October in the year of our Lord, 1517.

Even then, though, Luther’s intent wasn’t as earth-shattering as later ages took it to be. For Luther, the placement of a series of theses in Latin on the Church Door at Wittenberg Castle was nothing more than an invitation to debate. In other words, Luther didn’t see his act as the commencement of a revolution; he saw it as an academic exercise.

‘The Reformation’ is, then, little more than a label derived from historical hindsight gazing mono-focularly at a series of events over a period of time across a wide geographical landscape. Each Reformer had roots sunk in fertile ground and their work was simply the coming to fruition of generations of shift in the Roman Catholic Church.

Hence, it would be more appropriate to speak of ‘Reformations’ in the same way that we now speak of ‘Judaisms’ and ‘Christianities’. The Reformation was no monolith.

Who, then were the Reformers who gave birth to the Reformations most closely associated with them? They were Huldrych Zwingli, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, in just that order.

In 1515 while he was Pastor of the village Church in Glarus, Huldrych Zwingli began to call into question the dependence of the Church on the teachings of the Scholastics. He also questioned the value of the Vulgate for preaching and began earnest study of the Greek New Testament. There, memorizing the letters of Paul (in Greek) he discovered the Gospel which would come to feature so prominently in his Reforming efforts: Salvation is by grace, through faith, and not through works as proclaimed by the Scholastic theologians. By 1519, when he moved to Zurich to become the Pastor of the Great Minster, Zwingli was already well on his way to Reforming the worship of the Church and the administration of the ‘Sacraments’. In short order, within a few years, the Mass was abandoned and replaced by the ‘Lord’s Supper’ and the fixation of the Church on images was denounced and those images removed in due course.

Zwingli’s Reformation was carried out with the cooperation of the City government, which is why Zwingli, along with Luther and Calvin, were to be known to history as ‘Magisterial Reformers’. Not because they were ‘Magisterial’ but because each had the support of their city’s magistrates.

North of Zurich, in Wittenberg, Luther’s Reformatory efforts were coming to full steam around the same time. In 1520 he broke with Rome irrevocably with the publication of his stunning ‘On The Babylonian Captivity of the Church’. From there, there was to be no turning back. And here we must remind ourselves that at this juncture Luther was not dependent on the work of Zwingli, nor was Zwingli dependent on the work of Luther. Both were pursuing reform along parallel tracks, separately.

Further to the West of Switzerland a decade later John Calvin, an exile from France, a lawyer by training and a theologian by training and desire, began his own efforts at Reform. Several years after Zwingli’s death and long after Luther’s demise Calvin plodded away in Geneva attempting manfully to bring that raucous city to heel under the power of the Gospel.

Each of these Reformers were ‘Fathers’ of their own Reformation. Each was, originally, independent of the other and in many ways they tried very hard to retain that independence even when their common foe, the Church of Rome, was the target as their common enemy. Each contributed to ‘The Reformation’ in their own unique way.

If, then, we wish to honor their memory and their efforts, it behooves us to set aside our preconceptions or our beliefs that ‘The Reformation’ began on October 31, 1517. It didn’t. It began in 1515 in Glarus. And it began in 1517 in Wittenberg. And it began in Geneva in 1536.

Happy Reformations Days.

#ICYMI- Luther at Leipzig

On the five-hundredth anniversary of the 1519 debate between Martin Luther and John Eck at Leipzig, Luther at Leipzig offers an extensive treatment of this pivotal Reformation event in its historical and theological context. The Leipzig Debate not only revealed growing differences between Luther and his opponents, but also resulted in further splintering among the Reformation parties, which continues to the present day. The essays in this volume provide an essential background to the complex theological, political, ecclesiastical, and intellectual issues precipitating the debate. They also sketch out the relevance of the Leipzig Debate for the course of the Reformation, the interpretation and development of Luther, and the ongoing divisions between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.

Brill have graciously provided a review copy.  This collection of informative essays begins with the setting of the Leipzig debate in its historical context.  Essays present readers with the opportunity to ‘delve deeply’ into the events concurrent with and important to one of the most important debates in the history of the Reformation. Accordingly, in Part One we find

  • The Leipzig Debate: a Reformation Turning Point, By: Volker Leppin and Mickey L. Mattox
  • Defending Wittenberg: Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt and the Pre-history of the Leipzig Debate, By: Alyssa Lehr Evans
  • Wittenberg’s Disputation Culture and the Leipzig Debate between Luther and Eck, By: Henning Bühmann
  • The Papacy’s Aversion to Councils in the Time of Leo X: Leipzig in the Context of Conciliarism, By: Thomas M. Izbicki
  • The Leipzig Disputation: Masters of the Sacred Page and the Authority of Scripture, By: Ian Christopher Levy
  • Frigidissima Decreta: Canon Law, Ecclesiology, and Luther’s Proposition 13, By: Richard J. Serina Jr.

Having set the stage, this work next looks in detail at the implications of the debate. Essays here include

  • Philip Melanchthon and the Earliest Report on the Leipzig Debates, By: Timothy J. Wengert
  • Papalism at Stake in the Leipzig Debate, By: Bernward Schmidt
  • A Genealogy of Dissent: Luther, Hus, and Leipzig, By: Phillip Haberkern
  • Councils after Leipzig: Luther’s Interpretation of Nicaea from the Leipzig Disputation to On the Councils and the Church (1539), By: Paul Robinson
  • Luther’s Later Ecclesiology and the Leipzig Debate, By: Jonathan Mumme
  • The Catholic Reception of the Leipzig Disputation, By: Michael Root
  • The Disputation between John Eck and Martin Luther (1519): A Select Translation, By: Carl D. Roth and Richard J. Serina Jr.

This collection serves to provide more important facts and details surrounding and relevant to the Leipzig Debate yet collected under one cover.  Leppin, Izbicki, Wengert, Mumme, and Roth in particular have written exceptional essays.

For instance, Leppin observes:

Perhaps the most elusive question regarding the debate, however, pertains to the character and motivations of the two primary actors: Luther and Eck. What impelled them to debate these complex issues in public? Both men were relatively young, ambitious, and anxious to promote and defend the church’s faith as they understood it. Eck had already made a name for himself as a debater, engaging in public disputations outside Ingolstadt, in Vienna and Bologna. Luther, for his part, seems to have been trying to accomplish something similar in 1517 when he published the Ninety-Five Theses, asking for public debate. Friends who knew them both recognized common concerns and interests that might well have united the two in a common cause. The jurist Christoph Scheurl, for example, clearly thought that Luther and Eck would want to know one another. For his part, Luther initially showed respect for Eck and avoided a public confrontation with him.

And Izbicki-

When John Eck raised the question of papal power in the Leipzig Debate in the summer of 1519, he cannot have been unaware that Rome was sensitive to any threat to its preeminence. His description of a monarchy founded by Christ on Peter must have been music to papal and curial ears. Eck made direct reference to Pope Leo X as Peter’s successor. Eck dismissed dissent from papal primacy as sharing the condemned errors of the Waldensians and Marsilius of Padua. It is less clear how he thought appeal to the authority of the Council of Constance, and even that of the Council of Basel, in his attack on Luther as a “Hussite” would play out in papal circles. Eck’s argument for divine guidance of councils by the Spirit might also have played out badly in Rome. Eck was on safer ground when he referred to the temporary ecclesiastical union achieved at the Council of Florence (1438–1445) in the argument over whether the Greeks were schismatics and heretics. He said that the Greek delegates simulated agreeing to union when present at Florence, for fear of the Turks, but that they abandoned their commitment upon returning home. The Eck who debated at Leipzig represented a strand of pro-papal, post-conciliar ecclesiology commonly held in the Rome of the early sixteenth century.

And finally, Wengert writes

If “Brand Luther,” to use Andrew Pettegree’s apt phrase, began with the publication of the wildly popular Sermon von Ablaß und Gnade of March 1518, the first real test of Luther’s popularity, especially among his fellow humanists, occurred in the aftermath of the Leipzig Debates. Here Luther had the assistance of Philip Melanchthon, an experienced fighter in such matters, as his editing of letters in support of Johannes Reuchlin five years earlier proved. Melanchthon had already played an important role in the run up to the debates, appealing directly to Erasmus of Rotterdam, then in Louvain, to be one of the judges.  Then, at the debate itself he helped Luther by handing him notes with some salient patristic citations.

These excerpts allow potential readers of the volume to get a scant sense of the material herein.  Said readers will simply have to take my word for it that the volume as a whole is incredibly interesting.  Because, 1), it is and 2), I would say otherwise if the case were otherwise.

Does the  volume have its gaps?  Not that I was able to spot.  Does it have weaknesses?  Again, not that I was able to discover.  The essays are, on the whole, tightly argued.  The work also includes a Scripture index and a general index.  Persons, accordingly, who wish to look up the work’s discussion of, for instance, Jerome Emser, are able to do so quickly.

I commend this volume to your attention, urge you to read it if you are at all interested in the History of the Reformation, and advise your University, Seminary, or College library to obtain a copy for their collection.

Notae Zuinglii. Randbemerkungen Zwinglis zu den Marburger Artikeln von 1529

On 24 October, 1529, Zwingli published his edition of the Marburg Articles – along with marginal notes of his own. It’s intriguing in that it allows readers to see what Zwingli thought of each article, in his own words along with the finalized agreed-upon edition which the participants signed. The title of the FlugschriftNotae Zuinglii. Randbemerkungen Zwinglis zu den Marburger Artikeln von 1529.

So, for example, on the critical Article 15 (on the Supper)

[Zu Artikel 15 am Rand:] Nachtmal: Sic nos appellamus. Inferiores vocant sacrament des altars. Sacrament des waren, etc.: Sacramentum signum est veri corporis, etc. Non est igitur verum corpus. Fürnemlich: Principalis est manducatio spiritualis. In hac consentimus. Caput ergo religionis est salvum. Das wort von gott geben: hoc est, quomodo Christus suis verbis instituit. Hic religio monet, ne verba Christi velimus contemnere, sed illis uti quomodo hactenus usi sumus, deinde et mortem domini annunciare [vgl. 1.Kor.11,26]. Die gwüssen zuo glouben zuo bewegen: verbo scilicet domini passionis. Illud enim in hoc predicatur, ut sciamus, deum nobis esse propitium, quandoquidem filium suum pro nobis in mortem tradidit. Sed solus spiritus sanctus est, qui corda illuminat et per fidem iustificat. Idcirco in huiusmodi semper curavimus addi expositionem, qua intelligatur, fidem a solo deo esse. Est igitur huius loci sensus, usum sacramenti huius servari debere, quomodo Christus instituit. Instituit autem, ut memores simus, hoc est, annunciemus mortem eius, hoc est, gratias agamus et laudem demus ac gloriam propter hoc, quod pro nobis est crucifixus ac mortuus. Iam nimirum necessarium est, ut mors domini externo quoque verbo predicetur. Haec predicatio in hoc fit, ut pars confortetur, pars ad fidem informetur. Sed haec omnia non nostro verbo, etiamsi instrumentum sit, sed divina operatione in mentibus hominum perficiuntur.

Fun Facts From Church History: Lutheranism Arrives in Göttingen

The first public Lutheran service in the city of Göttingen in the principality of Calenberg-Göttingen, was held on October 24, 1529. As was common when the Reformation was adopted by a city, the town government became also the supreme ecclesiastical authority and therefore commissioned a church order.1

1Roland Ziegler, “Preface to Christian Order for the City of Göttingen (1531),” in Luther’s Works, ed. Christopher Boyd Brown, trans. Jacob Corzine, vol. 59 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2012), 313.

Fun Facts from Church History: There Was Only One Greek Grammar Available in the Early 16th Century



Greek study in Western Europe was then [i.e., in the early 16th century] in its infancy. Teachers were scarce and text-books were scarcer still. The only Greek grammar in use in the West was that by Emanuel Chrysoloras (b. at Constantinople 1355; d. at Constance 1415), which was known as the Erotemata, the Greek title meaning “the interrogatives,” and was first printed in Venice in 1484, and frequently afterwards in different places.

Zwingli calls it the “Introduction” (Isagogen) of Chrysoloras; and as Glareanus speaks of an “Isagogen” which he had undertaken to translate, but had to lay aside from ill health, it is likely that he refers to the same book.

Zwingli asked Vadianus what he (Zwingli) should take up after he had finished it. Glarean, writing from Basel on October 24, 1516, says: “I do not know whether you have a Greek dictionary or not. If you need one write to me and I will see that it is sent you at once”. The lexicon Zwingli used was that of Suidas (Milan, 1499), and on the first page of his copy he wrote in Greek: Εἰμὶ τοῦ Ζυγγλίου καὶ τὸν κυριον μηδαμῶς καταλλάξω εἰ μὴ θατέρου ἀποθανόντος” Cf. Usteri, Initia Zwinglii (“Studien u. Kritiken,” 1885, 621). The book was in the Zwingli exhibition at Zurich, Jan. 4–13, 1884.*

*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).

On This Day…

“Under Innocent III. (1198–1216) the papacy reached the acme of its power, and maintained it till the time of Boniface VIII. (1294–1303). Emperor Frederick II. (1215–1250), Barbarossa’s grandson, was equal to the best of his predecessors in genius and energy, superior to them in culture, but more an Italian than a German, and a skeptic on the subject of religion. He reconquered Jerusalem in the fifth crusade, but cared little for the church, and was put under the ban by pope Gregory IX., who denounced him as a heretic and blasphemer, and compared him to the Apocalyptic beast from the abyss. The news of his sudden death was hailed by pope Innocent IV. with the exclamation: “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad.” His death was the collapse of the house of Hohenstaufen, and for a time also of the Roman empire. His son and successor Conrad IV. ruled but a few years, and his grandson Conradin, a bright and innocent youth of sixteen, was opposed by the pope, and beheaded at Naples in sight of his hereditary kingdom (October 29, 1268).”*

*Philip Schaff and David Schley Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 4 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1910), 258–259.

A Fantastic Piece on Gerhard von Rad

Since it’s his birthday-

Gerhard Von Rad: State Interference and Unflappable Belief in Nazi Germany by Daniel Strecker is intriguing for a number of reasons. First, it’s by a non-theologian. Second, it features interaction with Bernard Levinson’s work on von Rad. And third, it contains the only picture of von Rad I’ve ever seen as a young man.

Strecker begins

Bernard M. Levinson, Professor and Berman Family Chair of Jewish Studies & Hebrew Bible at the University of Minnesota Law School, has recently re-posted Reading the Bible in Nazi Germany: Gerhard von Rad’s Attempt to Reclaim the Old Testament for the Church (read the full text here).  The article, which first appeared in Volume 62 of Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology (2008), explores Gerhard von Rad’s (1901–71) staunch adherence to Old Testament studies despite the challenge of Nazi elements within his theological and intellectual milieu.  Levinson also draws a direct connection between von Rad’ s hermeneutic and the historical circumstances under which he worked, painting a powerful portrait of religious and intellectual conviction in defiance of a totalitarian state.

Read the rest.  Yes do.  With thanks to Bernard for mentioning it on

Today in Luther’s Life

1520lutherOur Saxon friends write

Am 19. Oktober 1512 werden Martin Luther als Zeichen seiner neu erworbenen Doktorwürde Doktorhut und Ring überreicht. Er ist nun Doktor der Theologie.

And then

Nur Tage später (on the 20th of October, 1512) tritt er an der Wittenberger Universität eine Professur für Bibelauslegung an, die er sein Leben lang behält.

A more significant Professor of Biblical Studies there has never been.

In Which Zwingli Is Asked About Rumors of Promiscuity

On 19 October, 1522 the Cantonal Clerk of Schwyz wrote Zwingli the following letter in which he relates to Zwingli various charges of promiscuity which are swirling around concerning him (along with other matters).  The letter is quite respectful and it is very clear that the Clerk doesn’t believe the charges, but wishes to have Zwingli’s response in order to silence his enemies.

Min früntlichen gruoß, heyll unnd alles guot wünsch ich üch in Cristo Jhesu, unnßerm herren.

Nachdem unnd ich ein besundern gunst zuo mier tragende von üch gespürt hab alls “Ein getrüwe warnung, unßer vatterlandt z ͦbeschirmen” von üch insunders enpfieng, darab ich nit wenig erfröwt, üch des billich hochen danck sag; dann es, ob gott will, so vyll unnd mier müglich, sin krafft unnd die meinig, dorum es erdicht, in mier würcklich handlen soll. Unnd so dann ich yetzo kurtz vergangner zytt durch ettliche priester, min Der Schreiber gibt u (im Anlaut v) und seinen Umlaut, ebenso uo und seinen Umlaut durch dasselbe Zeichen wieder, gewöhnlich durch ü resp. ü. In unserm Abdruck  sind beide auf Grund der Etymologie auseinander gehalten.

Zweifelhafte Fälle: dürch, brüder, hinderrücks, pfründen, anthwürt.  guot günner, gereitzt, minem allten fürnemen abzuostan, unnd mich ettlicher maß uff die evangelische ler unnd meining alls den rechten weg der selikeytt gebogen, deßhalb mir ettliche kleine büchly unnd ermanungen, mich darin zuo erlernen unnd erlustigen, in min huß getragen, unnd namlich eins durch üch gebredigott unnd den erwirdigen geistlichen frowen zuo Zürich  in Ödembach zuogeschribenn, vom großen münster am vj. tag Septembris in dißem jar, wysende “Don der klarheit unnd krafft deß wortz gottes” etc.; unnd so me ich mich darin ersuoch unnd befindt der frucht, ye me min sell enzünt wirt nach denen geistlichen lustbarkeitten hungerig zuo sin unnd durst zuo haben nach den himelschen ergetzlikeyttenn: vermag ich durch mich selbs nitt, sunder bin in hoffnung, der allmechtig habmich darzuo gezogen; dann ich dißn dingen hievor unverstanden widerfacht gentzlich davon nüt hörren wollt.

Harum, lieber bruoder in Cristo, lassendt üch min frävelheit, an üch zuo schriben, nit wunder nemen; dwyl unns doch angeborn, zuoflucht zuo haben an die end, dahar er sich allermerst trostz versicht. Ist kein wunder, das ich harinn zuo üch besunder zuokerren; dann alls ich üch vor ettwas jaren necher dann yetz gesessen, schampt ich mich nit, üch anzuorüffen um hillff, mier unnd minen kinden zitlichen hunger abzuowenden, darin ich von üch gantz unverlaßen, sunder millte hanntreichung täglich enpfieng, um weliches guot üch gott widergellt thüy etc. So das um den zyttlichen hunger beschechen, den mier gott durch sin gnad abgestellt – dem lob sy in ewikeyt – wie vyl mer soll ich mich trostz zuo üch versechen um den hunger miner seel, dwyll unnd ich weißt [!] üwer gröste neigung unnd begirlich fröid sin, die Cristen zuo furen uff den weg warer cristenlicher liebe.

Dwyll unnd wier dann alle glider sind in Cristo Jesu, unnßerm houpt, verhoff ich, min hunger sölle üch wie mier angelegen sin; deßhalb ich üch vermanen unnd bitten in Cristo Jhesu, unnßerm lieben herren, dwyll unnd mich gott durch sin sunder gnad mit kranckheit angeregt, ouch ich mins amptz halber so vyll beladen, das ich an die ortt und end, da man semlich ding veyll hatt, nitt kommen kan, das yer mier semliche liebliche bücher, die yer erkennennt mier aller bequemost sin zuo der liebe gotz unnd cristenlichen leben; dann ich darzuo ein semliche neigung gewunnen, das mier nüt me angenemers ist, dann in sölichen cristenlichen dingen mich zuo erlernen unnd leßen, zuo frucht mier unnd minem hußfölckly unnd allen denen, so darzuo neigung haben.

Hierin wellindt mich in brüderlicher trüw bevolhen haben, mier semliche bücher ußzuozüchen unnd mier zuo schicken mit schrifftlichem bericht, was sy kosten; will ich dorum by cristenlicher trüw früntlich bezalung thuon etc. Dwyll unnd ich dann ein besundere früntliche neigung zuo üch hab, deßhalb ich ungern hör ützit ungerattes von üch sagen, mag ich nit verhallten die schmach, so üch hinderrucks um der warheit willen zuogelegt: zum ersten, so fließen üwer bredigen nit uß guotem grundt, sunder uß nid unnd haß, syendt leckersbuoben; zum andern so schelltendt unnd schmützent yer nun die geistlichen oberkeytt, worum nit ouch den keyßer unnd die welltlichen fürsten? dorum daß sy üch beschirment; zum dritten, dwyll unnd yer das evangelium so lutter wellint machen, gepürte es, das yer im ouch nachleptindt (möcht davon ein yeder bewegt werden, üch nachzuovollgen!); so aber yer überflüssiger in buobery dann ander lebendt, sy ein zeichen üwer unwarheit.

Das regt nun üwer person allein nit an, aber dis: ier habendt zwo oder dry pfruonden erbredigot, das yer deßter mer huoren gehaben mögent unnd deßter baß üwer pracht mit tantzen, pfiffen, singen, seittenspil gehaben mügt, etc. Unnd so man semlich reden zuo vyll malen brucht unnd durch vyll personen gesagt, so der warheit widerfechten, um daß sis nit mögen erliden, begerte ich, yer welltendt mich zimlicher anthwurt hieruff zuo geben berichten, wo ich semlichs oder derglichen mer hörren wurde, semlichs von mier in keiner andern meinig dann in cristenlicher  trüw zuo vermercken, damit yer unnd ich die warheit deßter baß beschirmen  mögen.

Hiemit bevilch ich mich üch in cristenlicher brüderlicher trüw nach minem vertruwen. Hiemit wellindt mier ouch sagen min dienst unnd gruotz  bruoder Cuonratten zuo Küßnacht. Beger hierin früntlich anthwurt, so  erst das sin mag.

Datum Schwytz am 19. Octobris a 15xxij. üwer underteniger Balltassar Stapfer,  lanndtschriber zuo Schwytz.

Dem erwürdigen wollgelerten geistlichen herren Huldrichen Zwingly,  lüpriester zuo Zürch bim grossen münster,  minem gnädigen lieben herren unnd cristenlichen bruoder.

Zwingli’s full response is lost.  What a tragedy.

Luther: On Atheists

There was mention of a citizen of Wittenberg who was an atheist and who confessed publicly before the town council that he had not received communion for fifteen years. To this Dr. Martin Luther said, “We’ve been sufficiently forbearing with him. After a couple of admonitions I’ll publicly declare that he’s excommunicated and is to be treated like a dog. If in view of this anybody associates with him, let him do so at his own risk. If the unbeliever dies in this condition, let him be buried in the carrion pit like a dog. As an excommunicated person we’ll turn him over to the civil laws.”  –  Luther’s Table Talk

I love Luther’s honest forthrightness.  Sure, he was wrong about some stuff but you just can’t ever accuse him of pandering or equivocating and these days I find that refreshing.

Was he harsh?  You bet.  But so far as he was concerned there was something harsher- death and hell.  He was trying to keep people from experiencing the latter since the former was inevitable.  This makes him miles superior to the likes of Warren and Rob Bell and the other array of self-aggrandizing self promoters.

Fun Facts From Church History: While Luther Was Away, Karlstadt Did Play

According to the editor of Luther’s works (English),

After October 13, 1521, masses were no longer celebrated in the Augustinian monastery at Wittenberg; on October 17, Karlstadt presided at a disputation where it was, proposed that all masses be abolished. On other occasions he expressed himself about images, etc., in such phrases as: “Organs belong only to theatrical exhibitions and princes’ palaces”; “Images in churches are wrong”; “Painted idols standing on altars are even more harmful and devilish.”

He wasn’t wrong.  But those remarks didn’t calm things down.  On the contrary-

The impact of such ideas and sentiments upon a student body and a populace which had seen their famous professor publicly burn the volumes of canon law and even the papal bull which excommunicated him, inevitably led to demonstrations, some hilarious, others destructive. On October 5 and 6, 1521, a crowd of students jeered and threatened a monk of St. Anthony who had come to Wittenberg to collect alms for his order.  On November 12, the prior of the Augustinian cloister complained to the elector that some monks who had left the cloister had joined forces with citizens and students to stir up trouble for the monks who remained faithful, and that he himself hesitated to appear on the street for fear of being attacked.

Reports of extreme measures and consequent unrest in Wittenberg gave Luther such concern that he determined to pay a secret visit to Wittenberg in his assumed character of “Junker Georg,” wearing a beard and the trappings of a knight. Traveling by way of Leipzig, he arrived in Wittenberg on December 4, 1521, lodging at the home of his colleague, Amsdorf, where he was able to confer with a few of his most intimate friends. After a stay of three days, when rumors of his presence began to spread, he departed as quietly as he had come, reaching the Wartburg by December 11.

I like Karlstadt.  Sure, he went crazy eventually and joined the 16th century equivalent of the Montanists (Pentebabbleists), but early on, like Tertullian, he was super fun.

The Meeter Center Chats With Richard Muller

The Meeter Center writes:

Greetings to you on this fine Friday morning. We are pleased to present a new Reformations Conversation, this time featuring Dr. Richard Muller, PJ Zondervan Professor Emeritus at Calvin Theological Seminary. Watch it on Youtube, or listen to it as a podcast: