Category Archives: Church History

Call For Submissions

Beth Plummer, Interim North American editor of the Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte/ Archive for Reformation History invites article manuscripts from North American scholars for consideration for inclusion in the 2020 volume. The journal publishes innovative scholarly work on aspects of early modern European religious life and thought related to the Protestant Reformation, Radical Reformation, and Catholic Reformation/Counter Reformation/early modern Catholicism. The extension of European theology and practice into the extra-European world also lies within the journal’s scope. Its chronological range is approximately 1450 to 1650.

A manuscript should not exceed 12,000 words (including notes). The author should submit it to Beth Plummer ( as an attachment to an email message. The editors will read it and arrive at an initial judgment. If it considers it potentially suitable for publication in the journal, it will forward it anonymously to two specialist reviewers for detailed evaluations.The ARG will make every effort to limit the period of review to three months, and to maintain confidentiality about evaluators’ as well as authors’ identity.

For more information about the submission process, style guide, and journal, please visit the North American web page for the Archive for Reformation Research:

Arguing With Anabaptists: On January 17, 1525

zwingli101With the appearance of the ‘re-baptizers’ in Zurich in the early 1520’s, need arose for clarification of the Reforming position.  The City Council required discussions and on the 17th of January, 1525, those discussions commenced.  As Schaff notes

At first Zwingli tried to persuade them in private conferences, but in vain. Then followed a public disputation, which took place by order of the magistracy in the council hall, Jan. 17, 1525. Grebel was opposed to it, but appeared, together with Manz and Reubli. They urged the usual arguments against infant baptism, that infants cannot understand the gospel, cannot repent and exercise faith. Zwingli answered them, and appealed chiefly to circumcision and 1 Cor. 7:14, where Paul speaks of the children of Christian parents as “holy.” He afterwards published his views in a book, “On Baptism, Rebaptism, and Infant Baptism” (May 27, 1525). Bullinger, who was present at the disputation, reports that the Anabaptists were unable to refute Zwingli’s arguments and to maintain their ground. Another disputation was held in March, and a third in November, but with no better result. The magistracy decided against them, and issued an order that infants should be baptized as heretofore, and that parents who refuse to have their children baptized should leave the city and canton with their families and goods.

And further

The Anabaptists refused to obey, and ventured on bold demonstrations. They arranged processions, and passed as preachers of repentance, in sackcloth and girdled, through the streets of Zurich, singing, praying, exhorting, abusing the old dragon (Zwingli) and his horns, and exclaiming, “Woe, woe unto Zurich!”

The Magistrates saw this as a demonstration of an anarchic spirit and they cracked down. Hard. Indeed, they were right to. The early Anabaptists weren’t peace loving Yoder-ians (although Grebel and Yoder did have in common a ‘wandering eye for the ladies’ shall we say…). They were – for all intents and purposes – anarchists bent on overthrowing not just the Church but the State. It was the political dimension of their protests which drew Government ire and resulted in the violence leveled against them. And it all started on January 17, 1525, when they rejected persuasion and determined to have it their way no matter the consequences.

Indeed, it wasn’t their view of baptism per se which caused Zwingli to disagree with their overall position.  He had written two years previously

“Although I know, as the Fathers show, that infants have been baptised occasionally from the earliest times, still it was not so universal a custom as it is now, but the common practice was as soon as they arrived at the age of reason to form them into classes for instruction in the Word of Salvation (hence they were called catechumens, i. e., persons under instruction). And after a firm faith had been implanted in their hearts and they had confessed the same with their mouth, then they were baptised. I could wish that this custom of giving instruction were revived to-day, viz., since the children are baptised so young their religious instruction might begin as soon as they come to sufficient understanding. Otherwise they suffer a great and ruinous disadvantage if they are not as well religiously instructed after baptism as the children of the ancients were before baptism, as sermons to them still preserved prove.”

It is, then, an absurdity to claim, as some wrongly do, who do not really understand the world in which these 16th century people lived, that Zwingli and his compatriots despised the Anabaptists because of their view of baptism.  That presumption is simply one based on ignorance.

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.

Bruce Gordon Talks About Zwingli

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).

The First of Three Posts at the Christian History Institute

The first installment by yours truly appeared today.  The next two will appear on the next two Fridays.  I hope you enjoy them.

The Council of Trent: Reform and Controversy in Europe and Beyond (1545-1700)

Exactly 450 years after the solemn closure of the Council of Trent on 4 December 1563, scholars from diverse regional, disciplinary and confessional backgrounds convened in Leuven to reflect upon the impact of this Council, not only in Europe but also beyond. Their conclusions are to be found in these three impressive volumes. Bridging different generations of scholarship, the authors reassess in a first volume Tridentine views on the Bible, theology and liturgy, as well as their reception by Protestants, deconstructing many myths surviving in scholarship and society alike. They also deal with the mechanisms ‘Rome’ developed to hold a grip on the Council’s implementation. The second volume analyzes the changes in local ecclesiastical life, initiated by bishops, orders and congregations, and the political strife and confessionalisation accompanying this reform process. The third and final volume examines the afterlife of Trent in arts and music, as well as in the global impact of Trent through missions.

All the details of the volume can be found here.   Just click the Leseprobe tab.  There you will find the table of contents, etc., so that those materials won’t be repeated here.

Readers of book reviews generally want to know what the book under consideration contain (and thanks to the internet, that information is now generally available on the publisher’s website) and, more importantly, if it’s worth buying or recommending to their library or even checking out from their lending source.

Further, potential readers of the book want to know if there are problems with it.  If it fails to meet the reader’s needs or doesn’t deliver the advertised scholarship then the review it receives should reflect those facts.  If, however, it meets expectations or surpasses them, it receives a more positive review.

This book meets expectations.  And it is the first of a planned three in the series.  Volume two will take in hand the Bishops and Princes along with Church and Politics.  And volume three will turn our attention to Art and Music followed by Global Catholicism.

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself a bit and wish to return to consideration of the present volume.  It’s highlight, for me, is the chapter titled Trent and the Latin Vulgate: A Louvain Project?  This really amazing piece traces the incredible significance of the Louvain-ers in the production and promulgation of the biblical text that would be chosen as THE Catholic Bible.   Seldom does one encounter such carefully reconstructed historical detail.  Text critics and students of the history of the Vulgate will benefit immensely from reading this essay.

Equally enjoyable is G. Frank’s essay on Melanchthon and Trent.  Perhaps because I enjoy Melanchthon so much or perhaps because Frank is such a clear writer.

Not, strictly speaking, a theological essay but rather a historical one is Sachet’s “Privilege of Rome: The Catholic Church’s Attempt to Control the Printed Legacy of the Council of Trent”.  The attempts of Rome to control the narrative about Trent by controlling what was published of and from it is extremely intriguing.  The Church of Rome has always manifested a fairly high level of control.  This essay shows how that mentality worked itself out in the wake of Trent.

Enjoyable too is the essay by John O’Malley on Trent and Vatican II.  Here he shows that in spite of the major differences between the two Councils, they share some amazing similarities.  ‘They nicely illustrate the paradox of history’, opines O’Malley in the closing paragraphs.  I will let readers discover for themselves the surprise in store.

I think this is a very fine collection of essays and if volumes two and three are as excellent, then this series will become standard fare for historians of the Catholic Church.  I am happy to recommend it to your personal library and to your research library.  It fills an important gap in that it goes into greater detail on the issues of the Council of Trent than more general treatments and histories do.

Where the general textbooks scratch the surface, this volume bores into the bone.

Evangelische Kirche und Konzentrationslager (1933 bis 1945)

Um das Verhältnis der evangelischen Kirche zum KZ-System zwischen 1933 und 1945 darzustellen, untersucht Rebecca Scherf wesentliche Aspekte, die dieses Verhältnis charakterisieren: die Seelsorgetätigkeit der evangelischen Kirche, die inhaftierten Geistlichen, ihre Hafterfahrungen sowie die Reaktionen auf ihre Verhaftungen. Zur Analyse der Seelsorgetätigkeit wurden Quellen aus den frühen Jahren der NS-Diktatur herangezogen, die das Herausdrängen kirchlicher Einflussmöglichkeiten innerhalb des KZ-Systems durch den Staat bezeugen, das 1937 in einem für die damalige evangelische Kirche unverständlichen Seelsorgeverbot gipfelte.

Bereits im März 1933 wurde der erste evangelische Pfarrer in KZ-Haft genommen, bis März 1945 waren es insgesamt 71. In einem Überblick dokumentiert Scherf erstmals alle in den KZs inhaftierten Pfarrer, Vikare und Pfarrverwalter nach landeskirchlicher Zugehörigkeit, Verhaftungszeitpunkt und Inhaftierungsgrund. Zeitlich liegt ein Schwerpunkt auf den Jahren 1935 und 1941/42 mit den meisten Inhaftierungen. Die Inhaftierungsgründe sowie die Reaktionen von institutioneller und gemeindlicher Seite in jenen Jahren spiegeln dabei das sich wandelnde Verhältnis von Staat und evangelischer Kirche wieder. Die lokale Priorität liegt auf den Lagern Sachsenburg und Dachau, in die die meisten Geistlichen verschleppt wurden.

Hierbei konnte die Autorin auf der Grundlage von Tagebucheinträgen und Predigten erstmals das protestantische Leben der Geistlichen im Dachauer Pfarrerblock rekonstruieren. Wenige der 71 Geistlichen hielten ihre erlebte KZ-Haft nach ihrer Entlassung schriftlich in einem autobiographischen Bericht fest. Acht dieser Aufzeichnungen untersuchte Scherf, um persönlichen Erfahrungen und theologischen Deutungshorizonten der erlebten KZ-Haft nachzugehen. Den Abschluss bildet der Blick auf die Auswirkungen der KZ-Haft für das Selbstbild und die Fremdwahrnehmung der Bekennenden Kirche nach 1945.

Die Arbeit wurde mit dem Wilhelm Freiherr von Pechmann-Preis 2018 ausgezeichnet.

A review copy has arrived.

International Intrigue- in the 16th Century

[There exists] a letter to Zwingli, dated January 18, 1530, wherein two Swiss in the service of the King of France offer their services to bring about a conference between the representative of the King and of the Zurich allies (viii., 397).

The Landgrave of Hesse took great interest in this mission (cf. his letter of February 1, 1530, viii., 404 sqq.). As these negotiations were delicate, the Landgrave and the Duke of Wurtemberg in writing to Zwingli employed arbitrary signs in their letters to designate certain persons, mostly sovereigns, and also the correspondents themselves. Cf. letter to Zwingli of February 14, 1530 (viii., 411)(SM Jackson).

The Reformation wasn’t just of interest to theologians.  It was of interest to politicians as well, for less than theological reasons.

Arguing with Radicals

Huldrich_zwingli 8In 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 in 1529.

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.

The historically ignorant to this day constantly insist that the Radicals were chiefly interested in infant baptism and its abolition.  This is not the case.  Nor is it the case that they insisted on baptism by immersion- since they were happy both to sprinkle and to pour.  No, their aim was far more inappropriate: they wanted a Church separated from society.

As Schaff puts it so pointedly:

The first and chief aim of the Radicals was not (as is usually stated) the opposition to infant baptism, still less to sprinkling or pouring, but the establishment of a pure church of converts in opposition to the mixed church of the world. The rejection of infant baptism followed as a necessary consequence. They were not satisfied with separation from popery; they wanted a separation from all the ungodly. They appealed to the example of the disciples in Jerusalem, who left the synagogue and the world, gathered in an upper room, sold their goods, and held all things in common. They hoped at first to carry Zwingli with them, but in vain; and then they charged him with treason to the truth, and hated him worse than the pope.

Zwingli could not follow the Anabaptists without bringing the Reformation into discredit with the lovers of order, and rousing the opposition of the government and the great mass of the people. He opposed them, as Augustin opposed the schismatical Donatists. He urged moderation and patience. The Apostles, he said, separated only from the open enemies of the gospel, and from the works of darkness, but bore with the weak brethren. Separation would not cure the evils of the Church. There are many honest people who, though weak and sick, belong to the sheepfold of Christ, and would be offended at a separation. He appealed to the word of Christ, “He that is not against me, is for me,” and to the parable of the tares and the wheat. If all the tares were to be rooted up now, there would be nothing left for the angels to do on the day of final separation.

The Radicals couldn’t and wouldn’t tolerate such sensibility.  So they stirred civil unrest.  That the authorities could not tolerate, and the Radicals reaped the whirlwind.

Another Reason to Love Jerome

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

Today With Zwingli

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

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

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

Geben ze Bernn xj. tags Ienners.

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

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

Der frommen Anna Reinhartin ze Zürich, siner lieben husfrowen.

A New Divinity

Mark Jones, Michael A. G. Haykin
A New Divinity
Reformed Historical Theology 49
ISBN 13: 978-3-525-55285-8

This is a study on Reformed theological debates during the »Long Eighteenth Century« in Britain and New England. By »Long« a period that goes beyond 1700–1799 is in view. This examination begins just before the eighteenth century by looking at the Neonomian-Antinomian debate in the 1690s. This is followed by the Marrow Controversy in Scotland in the eighteenth century. After that, the authors address the ecclesiological debates between George Whitefield and the Erskines. The doctrine of free choice concerning Edwards and his departure from classical Reformed orthodoxy is highlighted next, followed by reflections on the Edwardseans and the atonement. Returning to Britain again, the volume provides a study on hyper-Calvinism, and on eschatological differences among key figures in the eighteenth century. More specific debates in particular Baptist circles are noted, including the battle over Sandemandianism and the Trinitarian battles fought by Andrew Fuller and others. Returning to ecclesiology, a discussion on the subscription controversy in Philadelphia in the early eighteenth century and an analysis of the debate about the nature of »revival« in New England close this volume.

I appreciate V&R sending along a review copy (supplied by their North American distributor, ISD).

Readers are encouraged to click on the link above and then scroll down to the ‘Leseprobe’ tab to see the table of contents and other front matter.  Those materials aren’t repeated here since they are easily available there.

The twelve essays here collected offer readers very carefully presented materials on a number of very intriguing aspects of the history of the Church in its Reformed manifestation in 17th and 18th century England and America.  In particular, VanDoodewaard’s work on the Marrow Controversy, Helm’s on Hyper-Calvinism, Herzer on Eschatology, Finn on Sandemanianism, and Smart on the Great Awakening are wonderfully crafted academic essays.  Smart, concise, and informative are the three terms that come to mind whilst reading these contributions.

The editor’s introduction (which can be read at the link above) nicely outlines the essays here included and shows their relatedness.  The volume also includes a list of contributors and an index of persons.

The chief aim is nicely encapsulated in the last paragraph-

Would I recommend this collection?  Certainly.  Go read this book then.  And you’ll love it.

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

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

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

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

Once Again, Remembering Emil Egli on the Anniversary of his Birth

egliYou’ve probably never heard of him (unless you’re a long time reader of the blog here), but Emil Egli was a brilliant historian.  Born on the 9th of December, 1848, he

… was a Swiss church historian. He studied theology, was ordained in 1870, and served in several villages of the canton of Zürich. In his student days he was deeply interested in historical studies. In 1873 appeared his important work, Die Schlacht bei Cappell 1531; in 1879, Die Züricher Wiedertäufer zur Reformationszeit, a brief product of his Aktensammlung zur Geschichte der Züricher Reformation in den Jahren 1519-1532, which he published (1879) with the support of Zürich and offers an uncommonly rich source on the early history of the Anabaptist movement. In 1887 followed a smaller volume, Die St. Galler Täufer.


Egli occupied himself principally with the Reformation in Switzerland. In 1879 he began his work at the university of Zürich as lecturer in church history, and in 1892 he was made a full professor. In addition to a series of shorter works he published Heinrich Bullingers Diarium des Jahres 1504-1574 in the second volume of the Quellen zur schweizerischen Reformationsgeschichte, which he founded. After 1897 he published a semiannual periodical, Zwingliana, and after 1899 two volumes of Analecta Reformatorica (documents and treatises on the history of Zwingli and his times; also biographies of Bibliander, Ceporin, Johannes Bullinger). In 1902 he provided for a new edition of the Kessler’s Sabbata (a publication of the historical association of St. Gall). With G. Finsler (Basel) he began the publication of the new edition of Zwingli’s works (Zwingli’s Werke, Leipzig, 1905 ff., in Corpus Reformatorum).

He was astonishing.  He is remembered.


Nach dem nationalsozialistischen Rassegesetz wäre der Herr Christus unfähig und untüchtig, seine eigene Botschaft zu verkündigen und dürfte keine Schule betreten. – K. Steinbauer

Much more here.

The Tensions Which Eventually Led to the Second Kappel War

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Anniversary of John à Lasco’s Death

Via John McCafferty-

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

The First Anabaptist To Face Execution

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


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

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

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

Fun Facts From Church History: Climate Change in Bullinger’s Zurich

Joe Mock writes

bullinger90There was a mini ice age in the middle of the 16th century. Bullinger wrote about it in his Diarium. The mini ice age was so severe that Bullinger considered that it was the judgment of God.

Otto Ulbricht has written “Extreme Wetterlagen im Diarium Heinrich Bullinger” which is to be found in Wolfgang Behringer, Hartman Lehmann dan Christian Pfister (eds), Kulurelle Konsequenzer der kleinen Eiszeit, pp 147-175.

The following is a citation from the summary of the article:

“When looking closely at Bullinger’s diary, it becomes clear that he not only sensed the climatic change beginning in the early 1560’s (coldness, frost, hail frozen over lakes, floods), but he also described it as unique and sometimes even as a breakdown of the natural order of things. Adjectives he applied to characterize these changes have strong (and negative) emotional connotations. The extreme weather conditions – sometimes joined by famine – became the most important expression of God’s wrath in his thinking, thus displacing war and pestilence as secondary.

According to Bullinger, the main reason for God’s scorn was heavy drinking. Therefore, he and his colleagues tried to extend mandates against it to leading and secular authorities in Zurich. Religious reasons also played a role in keeping interest rates down throughout the famine of 1570/71. During this crisis, there was a major change in the liturgy through the introduction of common public prayer.”

I like it.  Climate change isn’t caused by fossil fuels, it’s caused by boozers!  Thank you Heinrich!  Thanks, Joe.

UPDATE:  Christian Pfister’s essay from the book mentioned above is available here.