Huldrych Zwingli 14841531 Humanist Reformation at Zurich As

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Luther anticipated, early Protestants were unable to maintain a single identity. The unity of the new movement was threatened by a major rift between Luther and Zwingli over the doctrine of the Eucharist. An effort at Augsberg to reunite the whole Church failed, but in the spirit of unification, the Protestants produced the Augsberg Confession, a document that established the theological foundation for a new branch of Christendom, which soon took on the name of Lutheranism. Over the next four decades the Confession also became the basis for other statements of faith that did not strictly adhere to Lutheran lines.

The split between Luther and Zwingli produced two early versions of Protestant history and religion. Whereas Luther focused on the future (i.e., the Christ who is to come), Zwingli concentrated entirely on the past. Zwingli constructed a historical identity that stressed the unity of church and civic society; its appeal was directed toward the urban, burgher class, and it offered little to the numerically superior rural population. Historian Bruce Gordon claims that Zwingli's construction of Protestant history promoted "a view of the Swiss past which may have made sense to anti-Hapsburg sentiments, but the Zwinglian historical identity failed as a polemical tool to make the Reformation acceptable to most of the Swiss Confederate states. It was a tendentious creation too clearly aligned with the hegemonic interests of Zurich.''9

On the doctrinal front, as boundaries and beliefs became clarified, one branch of the new Protestantism retained the name "Lutheran" and the other came to be known as "Reformed" Protestantism. Even though both versions accepted the central doctrine of justification by faith, the Reformed branch was distinguished mainly by its lack of deference to Luther and its alignment with Zwingli and Zurich. In Zwingli, political and religious ambitions overlapped. Swiss cantons became increasingly divided in the 1520s between those who accepted the evangelical message of Reformed Protestantism and those who remained loyal to the Catholic Church. Zwingli encouraged the new evangelical communities to come together in a political alliance, with the idea of maneuvering reformists and traditionalists toward religious reform. In his zeal to accomplish this holy mission, Zwingli waged war against the Catholic communities of Switzerland in the summer of 1529. The outcome was a compromise peace, the chief element of which was that each parish or village was given the right to choose, by majority of male inhabitants, which religion to adopt. The religious and political significance of this development was summarized by Diarmaid MacCulloch:

Majority voting was a new idea in communities that had previously made decisions by reaching consensus; it was also an obviously useful device for overcoming traditionalist minority obstruction. Zwingli extended the principle by organizing territorial assemblies, including both clergy and lay delegates who would make common decisions on worship for the parishes of each territory. He thus created the first evangelical church synods, which in many later, more fully developed Reformed systems formed part of a tiered structure of such decision-making bodies, some alternatively called presbyteries. This was a precedent of huge significance, not just for Reformed Churches throughout the world but for the shape of western political life generally. Often the English point complacently at their ''mother of parliaments'' as the source of western democratic ideals. They forget that by modern standards there was nothing especially democratic about their parliamentary system for most of its history; whereas the syn-odical, representative form of government in the Reformed Church established hierarchy in society. The synodical model was of particular importance when after 1776 the leadership in the fledgling United States of America drew on its own experience of Reformed Churches in creating its new forms of government.10

Zwingli's overreaching attempts to impose the Reformation by force in Switzerland ended abruptly when he was cut down and butchered by a Catholic army that rose up against his economic blockade against the Catholic Inner States of Switzerland. His impact might have died with him but for Heinrich Bullinger's successful attempt to return the Zwing-lian Church to stability. An able and patient priest, Bullinger remained true to Zwingli's legacy even as he quietly modified its troublesome aspects. Refraining from political involvement, Bullinger tried to heal divisions between the followers of Zwingli and Luther. His most durable contribution lay in developing one aspect of Zwinglian theology that provided a unifying force—the idea of the covenant. According to Diarmaid MacCulloch, ''The idea that God made demands of his chosen people in a covenant was attractive to Reformed Protestants because it offered a solution to a great problem posed by Luther's doctrine of justification by faith, namely, how to persuade people to be moral beings if God had already marked them for salvation without any effort on their part.''11

John Calvin (1509-1564) and Calvinism After Zwingli's untimely death, Calvin—who was never ordained a priest or minister in any church—became the leader of the Reform Movement. Unlike Luther, he took a precise and detailed interest in how the church should be structured. His ideas struck a harmonic chord in the city of Geneva. Geneva gave him the opportunity to try out his new ideas because the city's ruling elite wanted to maintain such a structure under its control. Martin Luther taught that God looks after what goes on in the world in two distinct ways. On the one hand, God provides governments for basic social order; on the other hand, God provides the church to proclaim the Gospel. The business of government is to preserve and protect society, and the business of the church is to share God's grace and to remind Christians of their responsibility to their neighbors. This became known as the "two-kingdoms" theory, designed to reinforce mutual responsibilities between church and state. Calvin applied this theory to good effect by structuring the Genevan church so as to function hand in glove with the city government. From Martin Bucer, the leading reformer in the German city of Strasbourg, Calvin borrowed the premise that the New Testament established four functions of ministry: pastors, doctors, elders, and deacons. Pastors carried out the general ministry of the laity exercised by medieval priests and bishops; doctors were responsible for teaching at all levels (including scholarly investigations of the Bible); elders exercised disciplinary functions; and deacons supervised and administered almsgiving.

Calvin succeeded in Geneva where Bucer had failed in Strasbourg. He set up a church governmental apparatus that operated citywide, so that under his influence Geneva approached a theocracy. From 1541, governing councils in Geneva stood alongside the system that Calvin had created for the Church—city councils had some say in choosing the elders of the Church but did not interfere directly in the selection of pastors.

As a result the Genevan pastoral ministry became a self-perpetuating body. Diarmaid MacCulloch explains the contrast in governing style between Calvin and Luther: "[Calvin's system] was a far cry from the clerical ministry simultaneously evolving in Luther's Germany, [being] effectively a wing of the bureaucracy of princes or city councils, and chosen by them as they would choose their other officers. It was in fact much more like the high clericalism of the old western Church.''12 Ironically, the church structure that arose from the peculiar political circumstances of Geneva was copied all over Europe wherever Calvin's independent form of the Church was admired, even though the same political circumstances did not exist in all those places.

As Calvin was consolidating his position in Geneva in the 1550s, he became more outspoken in his rejection of Luther's doctrine of the Eucharist, insisting that the sacramental bread and wine had mere symbolic significance. Lutherans retained the liturgical trappings of the traditional Mass, which suggested to the Reformed "an understanding of the Eucharist which was, to put it simply, papal and magical rather than evangelical.''13 As a consequence, the division between Lutheran and non-Lutheran Protestants, manifest decades earlier in the controversy leading up to the Augsberg Confession, hardened into doctrinal warfare, and dashed the hopes of earlier reformists that a real reunion could be accomplished. In fact, from the middle of the fifteenth century on, division reigned not merely between Catholics and non-Catholics but between Lutherans and non-Lutherans as well. Moreover, in the clash between Catholics and non-Catholics, Protestants demonstrated that they could be bloodthirsty as well. This was especially true in England, where in the decade between 1581 and 1590, 78 priests and 25 laypeople were executed. More executions occurred in the following years: 53 priests and 35 laypeople between 1590 and 1603; and 70 more priests between 1601 and 1680. "In fact,'' notes MacCulloch, "England judicially murdered more Roman Catholics than any other country in Europe, which puts English pride in national tolerance in an interesting perspective.''14

As a consequence of this religious divide, Calvin's name came to be associated with the whole of Reformed Protestant theology and practice, so much so that the blanket term Calvinism was applied to a wide range of Reformed Churches. Aside from the fact that Calvin himself would not have approved of this, it obscures the fact that there were many currents within the Reformed Protestant world to seek leadership elsewhere. Calvin's doctrine of predestination proved to be a particular sticking point. The idea that some fixed number of souls would be saved by God's grace did not sit well with some, especially the merchants. Calvinism therefore spawned alternatives offering a softer version of predestination and, structurally speaking, resembling a more labor-managed form of local church organization.

John Knox (1505-1572) and Reformation in Scotland Whereas in England the Reformation was directed at every turn by the Crown, the Scottish Reformation was grounded in a rebellion against God's anointed monarch. Queen Mary arrived from France as Scotland's new monarch in 1560 after the death of her young husband, Francois II. Inexperienced in politics, she quickly made a mess of things, alienating Protestant politicians who had tried to remain loyal to her. Her misrule led to civil war, resulting in a series of Protestant and pro-English regimes. Steering the national revolution against Queen Mary was John Knox, a protege of Calvin's who admired the Geneva Church.

The Lutheran character of the Reformation evaporated quickly in Scotland, leaving the path open to the Reformed Protestants. With the backing of Scotland's lesser nobility, Knox and his cohorts prevailed in the Scottish Parliament. The outcome was legislation that created a radically new Protestant Church, the Kirk. Establishment of the Scottish Kirk was part of a shrewd political deal that set up a national church polity allowing the Kirk to coexist alongside a ghost of the old Catholic Church system. This allowed for the "repatriation" of the old Church's officeholders, who continued to draw two-thirds of their former revenues even if they did not take an active role in the new Church—which, of course, many did. The result was a more orderly, less violent, transfer of religious power from old to new.

Knox was, according to MacCulloch, "an anglicized and comparatively moderate Calvinist'' who envisioned a broadly based Protestantism accepting of the bishopric and allowing a strong role for the secular power in church affairs.15 However, after his death this vision was supplanted by a more doctrinaire presbyterianism that asserted equality among ministers in the Kirk and independence of political authority. The modern Presbyterian Church stems from this post-Knoxian development.

Protestantism in Scandinavia In Scandinavia, as elsewhere in northern Europe, the spread of Protestantism was made possible by the enthusiasm of the government for the movement, probably because it promised increased independence from Rome. Within two decades of Luther's break with the old Church, the Reformation was established in Scandinavia by peaceful means. The political map of Scandinavia was different in the sixteenth century. The strong kingdoms were Denmark and Sweden. Norway and Iceland were dependencies of Denmark; Finland was dependent on Sweden. Outside Germany, Scandinavia is the only area in which Lutheranism became the official state religion. The monarchs of Denmark and Sweden themselves sponsored the reform movement, and broke completely with the papacy.

In Sweden, the path of the Reformation superficially resembles the English experience. In both cases, the Reformation was led by the king himself and the wealth of the Church was confiscated. In some ways, however, the Swedish case was a better example of naked economic opportunism. Gustavus Vasa, the elected king of Sweden after the deposition of the tyrant Christian II, needed funds to run his kingdom, and the Church provided a ready source of great wealth. Assisted by brothers Olaus and Laurentius Petri, Vasa advocated the adoption of Luther-anism as the state religion. The Catholic authorities in Sweden saw that they would have to cut a deal with the king, so they agreed to support him politically and financially if he would leave the Catholic faith and its liturgy alone. Gustavus agreed. At that time, most Swedes still favored the Catholic Church. But in his bid to make his kingdom financially secure, Gustavus gradually maneuvered the Catholic Church into a corner. Swedish Catholics appealed to Rome, but the popes could do little to help. Italy was too far away.

By action of the Swedish Diet in 1529, the Church was turned into a national institution, its estates were confiscated by the crown, and the Protestant Reformation was introduced in several stages. After the reformers published the Bible and other books in Swedish, the Swedes came to prefer Reformation doctrines.16 But except in Stockholm, the Reformation in Sweden was never a popular movement. It was imposed from above.

The Reformation was more of a popular movement in Denmark than it was in Sweden. But here, as well, the impetus came from the king. The successor to Christian II was Frederick I, who, upon his coronation, promised to persecute the Lutherans in Denmark. Instead, it was during his reign (1523-1533) that the Catholic Church in Denmark was destroyed. From 1526 on, Danish bishops were confirmed by the king, and never after did they seek papal confirmation. In major cities, such as Copenhagen, reformers gained the upper hand, with the complicity of the king. Throughout Denmark the monasteries gradually disappeared and churches were destroyed with the king's permission.

A brief interregnum followed upon the death of Frederick I in 1533. His son and likely successor, Christian III, was a devout Lutheran, which prevented his election to the throne by a council whose majority was Catholic. Three years later, Christian III acceded to the throne after successfully repelling a German invasion with the help of Gustav Vasa. Strapped for cash, as had been his ally, Vasa, Christian turned to the Church to help finance his kingdom. When the bishops proved reluctant to help, he had them arrested and imprisoned, and appropriated their property. Eventually, the churchmen were released, but the property and positions were never restored; the action was accepted by the laity because the bishops had not been popular. In 1536 a national assembly held in Copenhagen abolished the authority of the Roman Catholic bishops throughout Denmark and its subject lands, thus officially signaling the downfall of the old Church. Within two decades of Luther's break with Rome, Lutheranism reigned supreme in Scandinavia. However, as in England, the Reformation in Scandinavia was less the product of religious entrepreneurs than of monarchical aspirations.

Protestantism in England In the sixteenth century, England was a country of exceptional conditions, both civil and religious. Compared to developments on the Continent, the shape of the Protestant Reformation in England was determined by circumstances that are sufficiently peculiar to warrant separate treatment. On the Continent, the new religion was embraced in countries that were more or less contiguous (e.g., Germany, Holland, Switzerland). As a result, the market in Europe for different religions was broader, and competition was keener between Protestant sects. As an island kingdom, England was physically isolated from Europe, and its isolation made it easier for a powerful monarch such as Henry VIII (1491-1547) to control the religious market.

Henry's quarrel was not with traditional religion but with the pope. In fact, Henry was repulsed by Luther and he initially wholeheartedly supported the Catholic Church's campaign against him. Henry's difficulties with the papacy began in the late 1520s, when he sought annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, who had failed to produce a male heir to the throne. The Vatican, already enraged with the English over their refusal to help defend Europe against the Turks, obstructed the annulment. Henry was goaded by the Vatican's stance into finding an alternative strategy for accomplishing what he (and God) wanted. He mobilized a team of theological experts to tackle the problem. The result was his sudden awareness of an ancient truth: that he was Supreme Head of the Church within his dominions. Henry got his way by merely putting his own authority above that of the Church. Having no particular interest in administering a state religion, he delegated his new royal supremacy over English religion to his ambitious minister, Cromwell, who seized the opportunity to plunder the churches and monasteries in order to enrich the kingdom. In the final analysis, England took Church property but did not reject its organizational form. It maintained its traditional threefold ministry of bishop, priest, and deacon, thus clinging to the old episcopal structure of the Catholic Church from which it broke away. Eventually, this distinctively British form of Protestantism assumed the name of Anglicanism.

Henry no doubt welcomed the resulting wealth that he derived from his nationalization of the Catholic Church in England, and he seemed indifferent to the consequential elimination of much of traditional religion that resulted from his confiscation of Church property. But the nationalization of religion, like the nationalization of industry, requires an investment of economic resources and produces economic consequences. For one thing, it establishes a future risk premium that can impede the actions of future religious entrepreneurs and retard the flow of future investment in religion. If assets can be nationalized (confiscated) under one monarchy, they can be under future monarchies as well. It also alters the flow of monetary rewards and employment patterns for participants in the old and new regimes.17

The Dissenters, or Nonconformists By the time King James ascended to the English throne in 1603, the Church of England was dominant, but it was also regarded by many religious leaders as static. A younger generation of Protestant clergy was frustrated by the intransigence of the bishops, who resisted change. This younger generation coalesced into a minority group that came to be known as Puritans, a new sect that saw episcopacy as part of the problem. The obvious solution was to replace the episcopacy with a presbyterian system.

Puritans became increasingly disenchanted with liturgical approaches to God, and more convinced that preaching was the only way in which ordinary Christians could receive God's truth. Calvin said as much, though not as forcefully as the Puritans. Despite lack of theological controversy, the Puritans eventually separated from the national Church of England. To put it simply, Puritan separatism was about organizational structure, not religious or devotional issues. Nevertheless, their resistance to episcopal and secular rule resulted in increasingly intensified attacks by conformist authority. To escape the threat of persecution, and to establish a purer version of Protestant Europe, English Puritans eventually sailed across the Atlantic to settle in the New World.

The conflicts engendered within the Church of England by those who refused to conform to the requirements of an established church were a major factor leading to the English civil war. After the victory of the Puritan party in that war, other nonconformist sects gained a stronger foothold. But the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660 also brought the restoration of the episcopacy, and repressive legislation against the Puritans. By requiring episcopal ordination of all ministers, the Act of Uniformity (1662) made a distinct split between conformists and nonconformists inevitable. As a result, nearly two thousand English clergymen left the established church, marking the beginning of significant nonconformity in England. Within short order, dissenting denominations were formed by Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers, Methodists, and Unitarians.

Some historians consider the British Nonconformists to be an extremely important factor in the Industrial Revolution. Dissenters found themselves barred from public employment and university education at Oxford and Cambridge by a series of Test Acts in the 1660s and 1670s. As a consequence, they became active in manufacturing, and Unitarians in particular established dissenting academies as alternatives to university education. The new academies stressed mathematics and the sciences— disciplines that contributed to the development of manufacturing technologies. Although the Dissenters were excluded from government circles, they were considered to be fellow Protestants by many middle-class businessmen and financiers. They therefore had access to capital which the most enterprising of these sects could direct—almost by necessity—to technologies created in the wake of the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century.

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  • silke
    What was Zwingli saying about humanist?
    2 years ago

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