Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Reformation in Germany and Switzerland

Luther at the Diet of Worms by Anton von Werner (1877)
Here are two timelines I put together for a Sunday school class I taught last year on the history of the Reformation in Germany and Switzerland. You can listen to the lesson at this link

The Reformation in Germany

1511 - Martin Luther arrives in Wittenberg after a visit to Rome the previous year.

1512 - Luther receives his doctorate and joins the faculty at the university in Wittenberg

1513-1517 - Luther studies and lectures on the Psalms, Romans, and Galatians.

October 31, 1517 - Luther publishes his 95 theses concerning indulgences.

1518 - The Heidelberg Disputation; Luther defends his ideas before the Augustinian order and university student Martin Bucer meets Luther.

1519 - The Disputation of Leipzig; 22-year-old Philip Melanchthon assists his fellow professors Luther and Karlstadt in their debate with Johann Eck.

1520 - Luther writes four short books: On the Papacy of Rome, The Address to the German Nobility, On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, and The Freedom of the Christian Man. In December, Luther burns the Papal bull that threatened him with excommunication if he did not recant 41 statements. He is excommunicated by the Pope the next month.

1521 - The Imperial Diet of Worms; Luther refuses to recant before the emperor, Charles V. After he leaves he is declared an outlaw but is saved by Elector Frederick and kept safe for a time in Wartburg Castle. There Luther translates the New Testament (the Old Testament would be completed in 1534). In the same year, 24-year-old Philip Melanchthon writes the first Protestant systematic theology, Loci communes.

1525 - Martin Luther marries Katharina von Bora.

1526 - At the Diet of Speyer, local princes are permitted to decide religious issues. This is allowed to gain political unity in the Holy Roman Empire amid a war with France and the Pope. This gives opportunity for Protestant reforms.

1529 - Following the emperor’s sack of Rome, an attempt is made to nullify the earlier agreement. Five princes protest this attempt, earning the name “Protestants.”

1530 - The Protestants present their confession of faith, written by Melanchthon with Luther’s approval, to the emperor at the Diet of Augsburg. Protestant princes form the Schmalkald league for defense. But pressure from the Turks force the emperor to tolerate Protestants to maintain political unity. Protestantism also spreads to Scandinavia during this time.

1540-1541 - The Colloquy of Regensburg; Roman Catholics (led by Cardinal Contarini and Johann Gropper) and Protestants (led by Martin Bucer and Philip Melanchthon) dialogue and seek agreement, but fail to reach agreement on transubstantiation and papal authority.

1546 - Martin Luther dies in February. In June, the emperor launches the Schmalkald War to subdue the Protestants.

1555 - A treaty is made, the Peace of Augsburg, which allows each territorial prince to decide whether the territory would be Lutheran or Roman Catholic.

The Reformation in Switzerland

1516 - Ulrich Zwingli, a parish priest, influenced by Erasmus and the study of Scripture, begins preaching through the books of the New Testament. He also begins criticizing the use of Swiss Mercenaries in foreign wars after serving as a chaplain to them.

1519 - Zwingli becomes the preacher at the Grossmunster in Zurich. Plague hits the town and he stays to minister to the people and becomes sick himself, earning the trust of the people.

1522 - Zwingli defends members of his congregation who participated in the “sausage affair” (eating meat during Lent).

1523-1525 - Through preaching and public disputations, Zwingli persuades the people and city council to embrace Protestant teachings. The city abolishes the mass in 1525. He also debates the first Anabaptists (doctrinal and political radicals) and persuades the city to reject them as well.

1529 - The Colloquy of Marburg; the reformers in Germany and Switzerland attempt to unite. They reach agreement on fourteen and a half articles, but failed to reach sufficient agreement on the fifteenth article concerning Christ’s presence in the Lord’s Supper. Thus two branches of Protestantism would develop, Lutheran (e.g. Luther and Melanchthon) and Reformed (e.g. Zwingli and Bucer).

1531 - Zwingli dies in battle as Catholic Swiss attack Zurich after Zurich sought to pressure them to allow Protestant preachers in their cantons. A treaty is signed allowing each canton to decide for itself. 27-year-old Heinrich Bullinger succeeds Zwingli as the leading preacher in Zurich and goes on to serve in that capacity for over forty years.

1535 - William Farel persuades the independent city of Geneva to abolish the mass and embrace Protestantism.

1536 - 26-year-old John Calvin publishes the first edition of The Institutes of the Christian Religion. Later that year, while traveling from France to Strasbourg, Calvin is forcefully persuaded by Farel to stay in Geneva and minister there.

1538-1541 - Calvin spends time with Martin Bucer ministering in Strasbourg after being banished by the city council of Geneva, before being invited back to Geneva after his reply to Cardinal Sadoleto.

1542 - Peter Martyr Vermigli is forced to flee Italy after attempting reform there and takes up a teaching post with Martin Bucer in Strasbourg.

1541-1564 - Calvin leads the reformation of Geneva, turning it into a refuge for Protestant refugees, a center of learning, and a model for the reformation of church and city. Preachers trained in Geneva are sent throughout Europe and even to Brazil. The final edition of the Institutes is published in 1559. Calvin dies at the age of 54.

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