HOW FAR IS IT CORRECT TO DESCRIBE THE THEOLOGY OF MARTIN BUCER AND JOHN CALVIN AS A MEDIATING THEOLOGY? Part 1

Alistair McGrath writes that the European Reformation is often interpreted as a homogeneous phenomenon. In other words, it is presented as being consistent in terms of its underlying ideas and emphasis. In fact, this is an inaccurate view. [1] The reason for this is primarily laid at the door of two reformers, Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli. The issue was not that they disagreed; it was how they disagreed. The heart of their disagreement lay at the interpretation of the Lord’s Supper [2].  Cameron writes that by the mid 1520’s the issue aroused a violent pamphlet dispute between Luther and Zwingli and their respective partisans [3] . The consequence of this dispute caused both theological and political problems. McGrath comments that at a theological level it raised the gravest doubts concerning the principle of the clarity of scripture that appeared far from easy to interpret [4], while at a political level, there was a permanent division between two evangelical factions of the reformation. It is within this context that our question is relevant. Did John Calvin or Martin Bucer develop a theology that was deliberately aimed at bringing Luther and Zwingli together? Was the unity of the reformers and the reformation their main priority which had to be achieved at any price? One thing was certain. Unless Luther and Zwingli attempted some sort of reconciliation, then the reformation would be damaged, possibly even losing some gains it had made. There was most certainly a good motive for a unifying theology. We shall look at each of the reformers positions on the Eucharist, and see if indeed either one, or both men used a mediating theology, or were they simply expressing their personal belief in what the scriptures said.


[1] Alistair McGrath Reformation Thought – An introduction (Blackwell 1993) pg109

 

[2] Other disagreements include baptism and justification by faith although this paper will concentrate only on the eucharist, which was the nucleus of their disagreement.

[3] Euan Cameron The European Reformation (Oxford University Press 1991) pg164

[4] McGrath pg 180

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s