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Zwinglis Distinctives

Zwinglis Distinctives

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Published by Jim West
Schaff's description from 'Creeds of Christendom'
Schaff's description from 'Creeds of Christendom'

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Published by: Jim West on Jul 03, 2014
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Schaff, P. (1878).
The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The History of Creeds
 (Vol. 1). New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers. § 52. Z
WINGLI
S
D
ISTINCTIVE
D
OCTRINES
 
Zwingli’s doctrines are laid down chiefly in his two Confessions to Charles V. and Francis I. (
§ 51), his
Commentarius de vera et falsa religione
 (1525), and his sermon
De Providentia Dei 
 (1530). Of secondary doctrinal importance are the
Explanation of his Articles and Conclusions
 (1523); his
Shepherd 
 (a
sort of pastoral theology); several tracts and letters on the Lord’s Supper, on Baptism and
re-Baptism; and his Commentaries on Genesis, Exodus, the Gospels, the Romans, and Corinthians (edited, from his lectures and sermons, by Leo Judä, Megander, and others).
Zwingli’s theological system contains, in germ, the main features of the Reformed Creed, as distinct
from the Lutheran, and must be here briefly considered. 1. Zwingli begins with the objective (or formal) principle of Protestantism, namely, the exclusive and absolute authority of the Bible in all matters of Christian faith and practice. The Reformed Confessions do the same; while the Lutheran Confessions start with the subjective (or material) principle of  justification by faith alone, and make this
‘the article of the standing and falling Church.’ This difference,
however, is more a matter of logical order and relative importance. Word and faith are inseparable, and proceed from the same Holy Spirit. In both denominations a living faith in Christ is the first and last principle. Without this faith the Bible may be esteemed as the best book, but not as the inspired word of God and rule of faith. 2. Zwingli teaches the doctrine of unconditional
election
 or predestination to salvation (
constitutio de beandis
, as he defines it), and finds in it the ultimate ground of our justification and salvation; faith being only the organ of appropriation. God is the infinite being of beings, in whom and through whom all other beings exist; the supreme cause, including as dependent organs the finite or middle causes; the infinite and only good (Luke 18:18), and every thing else is good (Gen. 1:31) only through and in him. It is a fundamental canon that God by his providence, or perpetual and unchangeable rule and administration,
1
 controls and disposes all events, the will and the action; otherwise he would not be omnipotent and omnipresent. There can be no accident. The fall, with its consequences, likewise comes under his foreknowledge and fore-ordination, which can be as little separated as intellect and will. But
God’s agency in respect to sin i
s free from sin, since he is not bound by law, and has no bad motive or
affection; so the magistrate may take a man’s life without committing murder.
2
 But only those who hear the Gospel and reject it in unbelief are foreordained to eternal punishment. Of those without the reach of Christian doctrine we can not judge, as we know not their relation to election. There may be and are
1
 Zwingli defines
 providentia
 to be
 perpetuum et immutabile rerum universarum regnum et administratio
.
2
 This illustration is used by Myconius in defending the Zwinglian view of Providence. See Schweizer,
Centraldogmen
, Vol. I. p. 133. The illustration of Zwingli,
Opp.
 IV. p. 112, concerning the
adulterium Davidis
 and the
taurus
, is less happy.
 
Schaff, P. (1878).
The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The History of Creeds
 (Vol. 1). New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers. elect persons among the heathen; and the fate of Socrates and Seneca is no doubt better than that of many popes. Zwingli, however, dwells mai
nly on the positive aspect of God’s providence—
the election to salvation. Election is free and independent. It embraces also infants before they have any faith. It does not follow faith, but precedes it. Faith is itself the work of free grace and the sign and fruit of election (Rom. 8:29, 30; Acts 13:48). We are elected in order that we may believe in Christ and bring forth the fruits of holiness. Faith is trust and confidence in Christ, the union of the soul with him, and full of good works. Hence it is preposterous to charge this doctrine with dangerous tendency to carnal security and immorality.
1
 
1
 As a matter of history, it is an undeniable fact that the strongest predestinarians (whether Augustinians or Calvinists or Puritans) have been the most earnest, energetic, and persevering Christians. Edward Zeller (a cool philosopher and critic of the Tübingen school) clearly explains this connection in his book on the
Theological System of Zwingli 
, pp. 17
 –19: ‘
Gerade die Lehre von der Erwählung, der man so oft vorgeworfen hat, dass sie die sittliche Kraft lähme, dass sie zu Trägheit und Sorglosigheit hinführe, gerade diese Lehre ist es, aus welcher der Reformirte jene rücksichts
und zweifellose, bis zur Härte und Leidenschaftlichkeit durchgreifende praktische Energie schöpft, wie wir sie an den Helden dieses Glaubens, einem Zwingli, einem Calvin, einem Farel, einem Knox, einem Cromwell, bewundern, welche ihn vor den Zweifeln und Anfechtungen bewahrt, die dem weicheren, tiefer mit sich selbst beschäftigten Gemüth so viel zu schaffen machen, von denen selbst der grosse deutsche Glaubensheld Luther noch in späten Jahren heimgesucht wurde. Die wesentliche religiöse Bedeutung dieser Lehre, ihre Bedeutung für das innere Leben der Gläubigen, liegt nicht in der Ueberzeuzung von der Unbedingtheit des göttlichen Wirkens als solchen, sondern in dem Glauben an seine Unbedingtheit 
 
IN SEINER
R
ICHTUNG AUF DIESES BESTIMMTE
S
UBJEKT
,
in jener 
 
PERSÖNLICHEN
G
EWISSHEIT
 
der Erwählung, welche den Unterschied der reformirten Erwählungslehre von der augustinischen ausmacht, und eben darauf beruht es auch, dass die theoretisch ganz richtigen Konsequenzen des Prädestinatianismus in Beziehung auf die Nutzlosigkeit und Gleichgültigkeit des eigenen Thuns den Reformirten nicht blos nicht stören, sondern gar nicht für ihn vorhanden sind. Was er in den Sätzen von der ewigen Vorherbestimmung aller Dinge, von dem unwandelbaren Rathschluss der Erwählung und der Verwerfung, für sich selbst findet, das ist nur die unzweifelhafte Gewissheit, persönlich zum Dienst Gottes berufen zu sein, und vermöge dieser Berufung in alien seinen Angelegenheiten unter dem unmittelbarsten Schutz Gottes zu stehen, als Werkzeug Gottes zu handeln, der Seligkeit gewiss zu sein. Die Heilsgewissheit ist hier von der sittlich religiösen  Anforderung nicht getrennt, der Einzelne hat das Bewusstsein seiner Berufung nur in seinem Glauben, und den Glauben nur in der Kräftigkeit seines gottbeseelten Willens, er ist sich nicht seiner Erwählung zur Seligkeit ohne alle weitere Bestimmung, sondern wesentlich nur seiner Erwählung zu der Seligkeit des christlichen Lebens bewusst; die Erwählung ist hier nur die Uhterlage fur das praktische Verhalten des Frommen, der Mensch verzichtet nur desshalb im Dogma auf die Kraft und Freiheit seines Willens, um sie  für das wirkliche Leben und Handeln von der Gottheit, an die er sich ihrer entäussert hat, als eine absolute, als die Kraft des göttlichen Geistes, als die unerschütterliche Selbstgewissheit des Erwählten zurückzuerhalten
.’
 
 
Schaff, P. (1878).
The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The History of Creeds
 (Vol. 1). New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers.
This is substantially Zwingli’s doctrine, as he preached it during the Conference in Marburg (1529),
and taught it in his book on
Providence
.
2
 It was afterwards more fully and clearly developed by the powerful intellect of Calvin,
1
 who made it the prominent pillar of his theology, and impressed it upon the majority of the Reformed Confessions, although several of them simply teach a free election to salvation, without saying a word of the decree of reprobation. On this subject, however, as previously stated, there was no controversy among the early Reformers. They were
all Augustinians. Luther heard Zwingli’s sermon on Providence in Marburg, and
made no objection to it, except that he quoted Greek and Hebrew in the pulpit He had expressed himself much more strongly on the subject in his famous book against Erasmus (1525). There was, however, this difference, that Luther, like Augustine, from his denial of the freedom of the human will, was driven to the doctrine of absolute predestination, as a logical consequence; while Zwingli, and still more Calvin, started from the absolute sovereignty of God, and inferred from it the dependence of the human will; yet all of them were controlled by their strong sense of sin and free grace much more than by speculative principles. The Lutheran Church afterwards dropped the theological inference in part
namely, the decree of reprobation
and taught instead the universality of the offer of saving grace; but she retained the anthropological premise of total depravity and inability, and also the doctrine of a free election of the saints, or predestination to salvation; and this after all is the chief point in the Calvinistic system, and the only one which is made the subject of popular instruction. In the Lutheran Church, morever, the election theory is moderated by the sacramental principle of baptismal regeneration (as was the case with Augustine), while in the Reformed Church the doctrine of election controls and modifies the sacramental principle, so that the efficacy of baptism is made to depend upon the preceding election. 3. The most original and prominent doctrine of Zwingli is that of the
sacraments
, and especially of the
Lord’s Supper 
. He adopts the general definition that the sacrament is the visible sign of an invisible grace, but draws a sharp distinction between the sacramental sign (
signum
) and the thing signified (
res sacramenti 
), and allows no necessary and internal connection between them. The baptism by water may take place without the baptism of the Spirit (as in the case of Ananias and Simon Magus), and the baptism by the Spirit, or regeneration, without the baptism by water (for the apostles received only
John’s baptism; the penitent thief was not baptized at all, and Cornelius was baptized after
2
 Zwingli, being requested by Philip of Hesse (Jan. 25, 1530) to send him a copy of his sermon, which he had preached without manuscript, reproduced the substance of it, and sent it to him, Aug. 20, 1530, under the title,
 Ad illustrissimum Cattorum principem Philippum sermonis de Providentia Dei anamnema. Opera
 IV. pp. 79
 –144. See a full extract in Schweizer’s
Centraldogmen
, Vol. I. pp. 102 sqq. Ebrard makes too little account of this tract.
1
 In the later editions of his
Institutes;
 for in the first edition he confines himself to a very brief and indefinite statement of this doctrine.

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