Schaff, volume 8: The Swiss Reformation

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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
As this is the last volume in the Schaff series, it is fitting it should also be his theological and historical highpoint. It is the story of Zwingli, Bullinger, and Calvin; it includes the tragedy of Servetus. The theme of this book, if there is one, is the emergence of liberty and freedom of conscience. That sounds like a Douglas Kelly book (which I recommend). It’s a bit more painful than that, though.

Zwingli

Zwingli says he was preaching the Reformation before he had even heard of Luther (Schaff 31). This ruins a lot of genealogies of heresy that say Luther started everything.

Schaff suggests that Zwingli’s defeat at the 2nd Battle of Cappel actually helped the Reformation. Had they won, Zurich would have forced the Reformation on the Forest Cantons, which would have provoked a response from Spain and Austria (189).

Bullinger

He is a bright spot for religious liberty. He expressed that no violence should be done to dissenters (211).

Calvin

This is the essence of the book. Schaff does push back against a hard reading of Calvin’s predestinarianism. He says both Rome and Geneva are happily illogical. The latter denies God is the author of sin; the former admits that baptismal grace may sort of exist outside of Rome (261).

On what grounds could the Reformers start churches that weren’t Roman, yet simultaneously insist on a called ministry? The Reformers, rather, “planted themselves on the promise of Christ, the ever-present head of the church, who is equally near to his people in all ages” (314). The shorter answer is that if there is no church that preaches the Word, then one may start a new one.

Calvin refutes the anabaptist doctrine of soul sleep by showing an unbroken “and conscious communion of believers with Christ, their living Head” (325). Side note: if you reject the doctrine of the soul, you will have a hard time holding to this precious truth.

The theme of Calvin’s work is reformed worship and implementing discipline.

Calvin’s Liturgy:
1) Invocation
2) Confession of sin and absolution
3) Reading of Scripture, singing, and free prayer.
4) Psalms, whether sung or chanted
5) Sermon
6) Long prayer and Lord’s Prayer.

Calvin and Sadolet

Calvin sees the Reformers as the Hebrew prophets who denounced the corruptions of the Levitical system (405).

Plague in Geneva: conspirators made it worse by using infected linen of those who had died and smeared the locks of the doors with poison. A woman confessed under torture that she had skilled 18 men that way (442).

Calvin and the Church

The church is the mystical body of Christ that fills all in all. There is a distinction, as Schaff reads it, between the ideal and the real, the church in the mind of Christ and the church in the world (449).

Paul derives unity of the church, not from any submission to the Pope or apostolic succession, but from “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all.” The invisible church is in the visible church as the soul is in the body (458).

Church and State: if you believe a union of Church and State, then you have to allow religious persecution as a legitimate consequence (463). Will the Church choose between liberty with self-support, or dependence with government support (474)? American churches have shown the wisdom of the former. We opt for a free church in a free state.

Servetus

Schaff criticizes Calvin’s role in this matter, although he acknowledges that Calvin didn’t have much of a role. Calvin simply tipped the authorities that Servetus was in town. I don’t think Servetus should have been burned or even executed. He should have been whipped within an inch of his life and then banished. He really was a stupid individual. There is no nice way to say it. He escaped from a Catholic death sentence and went straight to enemy territory. He railed against anyone who could have helped him by calling them “Simon Magus” who believes in “Cerberus.” He is kind of like the anonymous commenter on blogs who leaves multi-page comments.
 

Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
With regard to Calvin's role in the Servetus affair, doesn't Schaff say something here along the lines that it's like a sunspot that can scarcely dim the overall brilliance of the sun? Or maybe I'm thinking of a different writing of his.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
As this is the last volume in the Schaff series, it is fitting it should also be his theological and historical highpoint. It is the story of Zwingli, Bullinger, and Calvin; it includes the tragedy of Servetus. The theme of this book, if there is one, is the emergence of liberty and freedom of conscience. That sounds like a Douglas Kelly book (which I recommend). It’s a bit more painful than that, though.

Zwingli

Zwingli says he was preaching the Reformation before he had even heard of Luther (Schaff 31). This ruins a lot of genealogies of heresy that say Luther started everything.

Schaff suggests that Zwingli’s defeat at the 2nd Battle of Cappel actually helped the Reformation. Had they won, Zurich would have forced the Reformation on the Forest Cantons, which would have provoked a response from Spain and Austria (189).

Bullinger

He is a bright spot for religious liberty. He expressed that no violence should be done to dissenters (211).

Calvin

This is the essence of the book. Schaff does push back against a hard reading of Calvin’s predestinarianism. He says both Rome and Geneva are happily illogical. The latter denies God is the author of sin; the former admits that baptismal grace may sort of exist outside of Rome (261).

On what grounds could the Reformers start churches that weren’t Roman, yet simultaneously insist on a called ministry? The Reformers, rather, “planted themselves on the promise of Christ, the ever-present head of the church, who is equally near to his people in all ages” (314). The shorter answer is that if there is no church that preaches the Word, then one may start a new one.

Calvin refutes the anabaptist doctrine of soul sleep by showing an unbroken “and conscious communion of believers with Christ, their living Head” (325). Side note: if you reject the doctrine of the soul, you will have a hard time holding to this precious truth.

The theme of Calvin’s work is reformed worship and implementing discipline.

Calvin’s Liturgy:
1) Invocation
2) Confession of sin and absolution
3) Reading of Scripture, singing, and free prayer.
4) Psalms, whether sung or chanted
5) Sermon
6) Long prayer and Lord’s Prayer.

Calvin and Sadolet

Calvin sees the Reformers as the Hebrew prophets who denounced the corruptions of the Levitical system (405).

Plague in Geneva: conspirators made it worse by using infected linen of those who had died and smeared the locks of the doors with poison. A woman confessed under torture that she had skilled 18 men that way (442).

Calvin and the Church

The church is the mystical body of Christ that fills all in all. There is a distinction, as Schaff reads it, between the ideal and the real, the church in the mind of Christ and the church in the world (449).

Paul derives unity of the church, not from any submission to the Pope or apostolic succession, but from “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all.” The invisible church is in the visible church as the soul is in the body (458).

Church and State: if you believe a union of Church and State, then you have to allow religious persecution as a legitimate consequence (463). Will the Church choose between liberty with self-support, or dependence with government support (474)? American churches have shown the wisdom of the former. We opt for a free church in a free state.

Servetus

Schaff criticizes Calvin’s role in this matter, although he acknowledges that Calvin didn’t have much of a role. Calvin simply tipped the authorities that Servetus was in town. I don’t think Servetus should have been burned or even executed. He should have been whipped within an inch of his life and then banished. He really was a stupid individual. There is no nice way to say it. He escaped from a Catholic death sentence and went straight to enemy territory. He railed against anyone who could have helped him by calling them “Simon Magus” who believes in “Cerberus.” He is kind of like the anonymous commenter on blogs who leaves multi-page comments.
Why do you think that historically (America) we went that way? That worked for a time but not now.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Why do you think that historically (America) we went that way? That worked for a time but not now.
Probably because the country against which we declared war for independence had a state church. It would have been odd to remain under the head of the church after independence when we had declared independence against that same head in the civil realm.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
With regard to Calvin's role in the Servetus affair, doesn't Schaff say something here along the lines that it's like a sunspot that can scarcely dim the overall brilliance of the sun? Or maybe I'm thinking of a different writing of his.
that's the exact line
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
Perhaps I'm misremembering but I thought Schaff seemed a little more on the Arminian side to me. At least that was the impression I remember from a while ago.

As to Servetus, yeah, I wonder if he was trying to become a martyr. He knew the city's stance against him and then boldly showed up in public.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
Perhaps I'm misremembering but I thought Schaff seemed a little more on the Arminian side to me. At least that was the impression I remember from a while ago.

As to Servetus, yeah, I wonder if he was trying to become a martyr. He knew the city's stance against him and then boldly showed up in public.
Most cities both Catholic and Protestant didn’t want him. He was a scholar and I’m guessing without that life, he didn’t want to live though I don’t think he wanted things to end the way they did.
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
As to Servetus, yeah, I wonder if he was trying to become a martyr. He knew the city's stance against him and then boldly showed up in public.
The professor of my Calvin class in seminary, Dr. Scott Manetsch, asked the same question. He said he didn't believe it was outside the realm of possibility. After all, Servetus knew Calvin was constantly on thin ice both within and without Geneva. Perhaps he thought the death of a heretic would seal Calvin's fate in the hearts of many for years to come, or at least give them ammunition. Who knows?
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Probably because the country against which we declared war for independence had a state church. It would have been odd to remain under the head of the church after independence when we had declared independence against that same head in the civil realm.
Ok why didn't they want a state church?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I recall vaguely someone saying Servetus was unbelievably arrogant and maybe he thought he would win over everyone. He didn't go there to hide. Maybe he was fine being a martyr too.
Most cities both Catholic and Protestant didn’t want him. He was a scholar and I’m guessing without that life, he didn’t want to live though I don’t think he wanted things to end the way they did.
The professor of my Calvin class in seminary, Dr. Scott Manetsch, asked the same question. He said he didn't believe it was outside the realm of possibility. After all, Servetus knew Calvin was constantly on thin ice both within and without Geneva. Perhaps he thought the death of a heretic would seal Calvin's fate in the hearts of many for years to come, or at least give them ammunition. Who knows?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I recall vaguely someone saying Servetus was unbelievably arrogant and maybe he thought he would win over everyone. He didn't go there to hide. Maybe he was fine being a martyr too.
That's true. He was basically the equivalent of the anonymous commenter on a blog who leaves 10 page responses calling on everyone to repent.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
That's true. He was basically the equivalent of the anonymous commenter on a blog who leaves 10 page responses calling on everyone to repent.
Braver, devilmaycare or more foolish than that, in that he put it all on the line. The anonymous on social media are cowards who would never do what they do or say what they say if they had to attach their names.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Braver, devilmaycare or more foolish than that, in that he put it all on the line. The anonymous on social media are cowards who would never do what they do or say what they say if they had to attach their names.
Servetus actually might have had something else in mind. Schaff suggests that was at a period where the Libertine party had Calvin against the wall. Servetus might have gauged that a bad trial with himself as the star would topple Calvin. It backfired fatally.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Servetus actually might have had something else in mind. Schaff suggests that was at a period where the Libertine party had Calvin against the wall. Servetus might have gauged that a bad trial with himself as the star would topple Calvin. It backfired fatally.
If so, yes, it sure did. What year was that?
 
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