Thursday, October 13, 2016

Why Didn’t the Reformers Unite?

It was 1529. Various reform movements were at work, purifying the church in Wittenberg, Strasbourg, and Zurich.

It was clear some of the leaders knew one another: Martin Bucer first heard Martin Luther in Heidelberg in 1518 when both were still Augustinian monks. Luther and Huldrych Zwingli knew of one another. Publicly, Zwingli praised Luther, calling him a “Hercules” and a “faithful David” who fought the Lord’s battles. These leaders knew that each worked in the midst of challenging political contexts. Luther’s situation in Germany was intense. Charles V demanded the German princes submit to his leadership and work against the Lutheran reformation. In response, the princes issued a formal appeal against the emperor’s demand.

Protestantism was born that day.

Zwingli’s situation wasn’t much easier. The previous five years saw a number of reforms come to Zurich. While the city council supported Zwingli, he was attacked by a group of radical reformers, the Anabaptists. To the Anabaptists, Zwingli wasn’t going far enough in following the Bible, especially when it came to the nature of the church and candidates for baptism. Bucer, on the other hand, was able to navigate the politics of Strasbourg a little easier. On the edge of the Holy Roman Empire and without Anabaptists, Bucer patiently sought incremental change. Read More

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