Monday, February 04, 2008

Littell on Bucer's Catholic Spirit

This is from an article by Franklin H. Little entitled What Butzer Debated with the Anabaptists at Marburg:

"Butzer's great strength was expressed in his doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Both Lutheranism and Calvinism speedily fell into legalism, the piling of precept upon precept, the savage persecution of those who read the script differently, the brutal wars of religion which destroyed 80 per cent of the people and reduced the German lands to poverty and disease for generations. Neither the Lutheran Formula of Concord (1577) nor the Calvinist Canons of the Synod of Dort (1618-19) satisfactorily expressed a consensus fidelium. Both signified a willingness to settle for particularity long after the ability to discuss charitably had atrophied. Both required abandonment of universal perspectives, the canonization of particular formulas, the eclipse of eschatology. Both, in their lack of hope in things to come, lack of confidence in God's continuing purposes, derived from a scholastic mind-set which was insufficiently chastened and governed by a vital doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Butzer could have instructed the brethren, but even in his own time he was accused of "enthusiasm," of sympathy with the "Anabaptists of M√ľnster," of spiritualizing tendencies. Because he remained open to discussion and was willing to learn even from those with whom he had little in common, he was condemned by the dogmatic and inflexible for supposed instability and uncertainty of stance. Actually, he believed that the ultimate decision rested neither with hierarchy nor professional theologians but with the whole body of believers." (P. 256-257)

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