Full Text for Church History 2- Volume 28 - Interaction between Luther and Zwingli (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY CHURCH HISTORY 02 May 27, 2005 28 CH2 CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY: CAPTION FIRST, INC. P.O. BOX 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 1 800 825 7234 * * * * * This is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in Order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings * * * * >> Did Zwingly and Luther interact at all? I have to admit that I am intrigued by the idea of such men debating these important issues in person, face to face. Did they? >> Well, the answer to that is yes. But before they had their face to face meeting, there was extensive writing against one another, especially in connection with their understanding of the Lord's Supper. You'll recall that we had said before that Zwingly was strongly influenced by Erasmus. And one of the strong strains in the theology of Erasmus was what we might call, for want of a better word, "spiritualism." What I mean by that is Erasmus and then Zwingly following him believed that the flesh was bad and the spirit was good. And they tended to identify the flesh with material things, including the body, and the spirit with immaterial things, including the soul or the mind. So Erasmus first, but then especially Zwingly, had very little use for material objects, particularly as objects that God could use for the conveyance of grace. And as you might expect, this had important ramifications for Zwingly's understanding of the sacrament, both of them but especially the Lord's Supper. In particular, Zwingly came to a position, finally, that rejected the notion of the real presence of the body and blood of Jesus being anyway associated with the bread and the wine. For Zwingly, the Lord's Supper was a memorial meal, pure and simple. It was something that Christ had instituted so that the faithful would remember what Christ had done for them long ago when he gave himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. For Luther, this was hardly adequate. Following what Jesus had said, words of institution, "this is my body, this is my blood", Luther continued to hold that the bread was the body of Jesus and that the wine was the blood of Jesus. Now, initially these positions were not well known about Zwingly in particular, but he and others like him began to write about their new understanding of the sacrament. And when those writings came to the attention of Luther and his followers, Luther and the Lutherans opposed Zwingly and his associates especially on this question. So we have works like these from Luther, "A Sermon on the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ Against the Fanatics" or, again, that these words "this is my body still stand against the fanatics." And, finally from Luther, his "Great Confession Concerning the Lord's Supper." Zwingly, on his turn, or from his side, also wrote. He wrote a friendly exegesis in which he tried to explain what he thought the words of institution really meant. And then, again, that the words "this is my body" still have their original meaning. And in those documents, he articulated his position regarding the Lord's Supper and his understanding that when Jesus said "this is my body, this is my blood", what He meant to say was that this represents, or this signifies my body. This represents or signifies my blood. So the two men had entirely different positions. And they didn't spare any language, not only in presenting their positions but also in condemning the positions of the other. From Luther's perspective, Zwingly was really the pawn of the devil in attacking the sacrament, attacking the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the sacrament. From Zwingly's point of view, Luther was harsh, he was stubborn, he was resisting common sense. Zwingly wrote about this, wrote about Luther in August of 1528. Here's what he said, "That rash man Luther keeps killing human and divine wisdom in his books, though it would have been easy to restore the wisdom among the pious. But since the heretics, that is, his followers, together with the wicked have become so deaf to all truth that they refuse to listen, I was, for a long time, doubtful about expending this enormous labor which I knew would be in vain. May I die if he [that's Luther] does not surpass Eck in impurity, Cochlaeus in audacity." Those are the two Catholic opponents of the reformation. And, in brief, all the vices of men. So no love lost at all between these two men, especially on this issue which each felt was so important to his theology. But in spite of that, in 1529, a serious effort was made by the politicians of the Reformation, the leaders, the political leaders of the Reformation, particularly in the Holy Roman Empire, to overcome the rift and actually bring the two men together in a face to face meeting. Now, the leader in this effort was the Duke of Hesse, Philip of Hesse. He was basically a Lutheran who had embraced the Reformation, was concerned that the opponents of the Reformation, led by the Emperor, Charles V, might take steps to enforce the Edict of Worms against Luther and against all the Protestants to restore Medieval religion throughout the empire. And so he wanted a kind of broad Evangelical alliance to come together to present a united front against the emperor and the foes of Reformation. Now, Luther was extremely reluctant to do any sort of politicking or military planning to support the Reformation, but on account of his loyalty to his prince, the Elector of Saxony, Luther finally was willing to meet with Zwingly if that's what the Elector and Duke Philip wanted. For his part, Zwingly was much more eager for this alliance. After all, Zurich and the other parts of Switzerland that were Protestant trying to go it alone, well, that would be a difficult thing if the Emperor and the forces of Medieval Catholicism actually decided to crack down militarily. So Zwingly was more eager for this meeting than was Luther. Well, at any rate, in October of 1529, representatives of the various forms of Evangelical Protestantism made their way to Marburg in Philip of Hesse's Castle there in Marburg for a face to face meeting. Along with Luther, there came Melanchthon from Wittenberg. There were other Lutherans there, as well, for example, Ossiander, the great reformer of Nuremburg. Zwingly, too, was accompanied by others who shared his position. There was Oecolampadius, who was the great reformed reformer of Basel. And then there was Martin Butzer, he was a principal reformer in Strasburg. And in these years, it seems like southern Germany, Strasburg and other cities of the southern part of the empire, were more inclined towards Zwingly and his position than they were toward Luther and his position. Well, at any rate, they were all there in Marburg for a couple of days here in October for these face to face meetings. Now, there were a couple of dramatic moments in the course of the debate. Luther, for example, at one point put in chalk on the table, "this is my body" covered it up with a cloth and then at a particularly important moment in the debate, he took the cloth off and said here is our passage, you have not yet taken it from us 'this is my body.'" Didn't do much good. Zwingly still insisted that it meant "this represents my body." And in this connection, I should mention perhaps one issue about Biblical interpretation that was interesting, because Zwingly kept going to John 6 as a commentary on the words of institution. And John 6, you'll remember, is that discourse after the feeding of the 5,000 in which Jesus talks about giving his flesh to be eaten and his blood to be drunk. But he also says in that particular chapter that the flesh is useless. The flesh profits nothing. And Zwingly kept taking that part of the passage and applying it to the Lord's Supper, that even Jesus' flesh, if it were in the Lord's Supper, would be useless. Luther rejected that entirely. He said John 6 is talking about faith. It's not talking about the Lord's Supper. And that what our Lord was referring to in John 6 when He talked about the flesh was certainly not His own flesh but of course our human sinful flesh. So there's a great deal of discussion regarding the words of institution, John 6 and other important Biblical passages. A side argument that became important from that time and on between Lutherans and Reformed also had to do with the presence of Christ and whether our Lord could be present according to his human nature in the bread and the wine. Luther, of course, said yes, this is what Jesus has said. Moreover, on account of the fact that our Lord is God and man in one person, Luther held that there was a sharing of the divine attributes with the human nature so that Christ, according to his human nature, could be everywhere because God is everywhere. Zwingly absolutely rejected that. For Zwingly, the human nature, in order to be a true human nature, had to be but in one place. And since Jesus had ascended into Heaven, that one place was in Heaven and it could not be on Earth. It could not be in the bread and the wine of the Lord's Supper. Well, make a long story short, the two days of conversation that included Luther and Zwingly directly really came to nothing on this pivotal issue of the real presence in the Lord's Supper. Now, as the sessions were winding down, the host, Philip of Hesse, was concerned that no agreement was forthcoming, so he asked Luther to write up a statement that would include areas of agreement, if he could, as a result of which they could present as much of a united front as possible. And so Luther did that. He wrote up a series of articles, 15 articles, they're called the Marburg articles. They were a very early statement or confession of faith from the Protestant or Evangelical side. And these were presented to Zwingly and Butzer and the others on Zwingly's side. And lo and behold, they were willing and did agree with Luther's formulation in 14 articles. And those articles included statements about God and salvation, person of Christ and so forth. And even on Article 15, both sides were willing to agree that they rejected the sacrifice of the Mass and that what was important was faith and the saving work of Christ. But they also acknowledged that they did not agree on the real presence. And that it was this failure to agree on what it was that God is giving to us in the Lord's Supper: Bread and wine only, Zwingly's position; body and blood of Jesus, Luther's position. It was a failure to reach agreement on that, which meant that the two sides could not express fellowship by means of going to the Lord's Supper. Or to put it more simply, on account of this failure to agree, it meant that there would be at least two forms of Evangelical Protestant Christianity coming out of the Reformation instead of just one. * * * * * This is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in Order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings * * * *