Full Text for Church History 2- Volume 29 - Acrimony and Division at Marburg (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY CHURCH HISTORY 02 May 27, 2005 29 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 * * * * >> It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall in Marburg, but also very distressing. It sounds so terribly acrimonious. Why was that the case? Why were the divisions at Marburg permanent? >> The acrimony was serious. And although Marburg did temper that for a while because after the face to face meeting and the agreement on so many articles of religion, to a certain extent the debate died down. But nonetheless, the divisions between Zwingly and Luther, and those who followed them, were permanent, because for both men, issues of great moment were at stake. In particular, it was the means of grace. How does God bring to us the saving work of Jesus? For Luther, it was so important to go where our Lord has promised to be with his grace and forgiveness. That means not just the Word, although the Word's basic, but it also means baptism in the Lord's Supper. But for Zwingly, this kind of belief in the Lord's Supper was too much like Medieval Catholicism. It was as if Luther had not broken clearly enough from Medieval religion. So for both of the principals, this was an extremely important issue. I want to mention somebody else here, though, that's important, and he does kind of a shift or evolution in the wake of Marburg, and that's Martin Butzer. I described him as the principal reformer of Strasburg. Well, he came to Marburg basically on Zwingly's side. He's somebody who had been initially very impressed by Luther. He had heard Luther at the Heidelberg disputation in 1518 and very much impressed by him. But on this particular issue, in the late 1520s, he was siding with Zwingly. However, at Marburg, he came to a new understanding of what Luther was teaching and that Luther wasn't really teaching what the Medieval church taught. In other words, Lutherans insisted that although the presence was real, it wasn't a local or circumscribed presence as if in the Lord's Supper you had a piece of Jesus' body like his foot or something like that. But instead a real presence. But also a supernatural and sacramental presence. And Butzer liked this. So Butzer went away from Marburg determined to keep on trying to effect unity within the Evangelical camp. The very next year at Augsburg, for example, the Diet of Augsburg, he tried to have some meetings with Melanchthon of the Lutheran theologians who were there. Nothing came of that very much. But then he met with Luther at Kohlberg where Luther stayed during the Diet of Augsburg. And there again, he had some fruitful conversations, insisting to Luther that he and the people of Strasburg actually believed what Luther and the others were teaching. Well, over the next few years, Martin Butzer persisted in trying to reach an agreement with the Lutherans. This was a theological concern. It was also a political concern. Strasburg and other cities in the south of Germany would have felt more secure in their Protestantism if they could ally with Philip of Hesse and the Elector of Saxony and so forth. Well, the efforts of Butzer came to fruition in 1536. Butzer and delegates from Strasburg traveled all the way to Wittenberg for yet another meeting with Luther and Melanchthon regarding the Lord's Supper. By that time, Strasburg had already accepted the Augsburg confession that had been presented to the emperor in 1530. But now Butzer wanted to assure and affirm to Luther and Melanchthon that he actually held to the same doctrine as they did. So Melanchthon wrote up a statement regarding the Lord's Supper, and this statement indicated that along with the bread and wine, the body and blood of Jesus are offered and received by all those who participate in the sacrament. Moreover, the document also affirms that even the unworthy who partake of the sacrament partake of the body and blood of Jesus. Now, that last point actually became an important issue historically distinguishing Lutherans from Reformed. Many Reformed were willing to accept that in some kind of mysterious way, believers communed with the body and blood of Jesus. That would be the position of John Calvin later. But they were not willing to accept the idea that the unworthy or even the unbelievers received the body and blood of Jesus in the sacrament. But for Luther, it was important if the Word of God was telling the truth to understand that the body and blood of Jesus were there for all who received the sacrament, even the unworthy, even the unbelievers. So the question of what do the unworthy eat became an important one in terms of the succeeding debate in the sacrament; but at the Wittenburg Concord, Martin Butzer and Strasburg accepted the Lutheran idea that the even the unworthy receive the body and blood of Jesus. And that is, of course, on account of the word of Jesus, "this is my body, this is my blood." That's good whether people believe it or not. At least that was the Lutheran position and it was the position that Martin Butzer accepted at the Wittenburg Concord. Now, the point of this is that southern Germany, therefore, led by Strasburg, entered into communion with the Lutherans. And so the Marburg Colloquy was not permanent as far as that part of Protestantism was concerned. On the other hand, that was not true of the Swiss. And they basically remain Reformed and the followers of Zwingly or others similar to Zwingly on this question of the Lord's Supper. * * * * * 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?