Wednesday, 8 February 2006

Zwingli and Calvin (for Jim West)

“[Zwingli’s] figure has been unduly obscured by the fame of his younger contemporary, Calvin. His place in the history of thought is really more important than Calvin’s, for he was an originator where the latter was only a follower.”

—A. C. McGiffert, Protestant Thought before Kant (London: Duckworth, 1911), p. 61.

3 Comments:

Jim said...

But of course! The very thing I've been saying for years (though not quite since 1911--- I'm not that old yet!)

Thanks for the fine citation Ben. If Barth had only been as wise as you, and McGiffert.

kim fabricius said...

Hi Jim,

There is nothing I like better than to find that the conventional history has got it wrong, but I continue to read -most recently in The Cambridge Companion to John Calvin (2004) - that although Calvin may have been "only a follower", his leader was not Zwingli but Luther (my "most respected father").

And in his magisterial Reformation (2003), Diarmaid MacCulloch commends Euan Cameron's observation that "if Zwingli really did develop the distinctively 'Reformation' message of salvation by free forgiveness, apprehended through faith, simultaneoulsy but entirely independently of Luther, it was the most breathtaking coincidence of the sixteenth century."

Go on, make my day!

Jim said...

But of course he did! That is, of course he developed his theological perspective independent of Luther.

That such coincidences occur shouldn't surprise any of us though. At times fish in different part of the ocean are swimming in the same direction!

Zwingli himself said that he began his own reformatory efforts before he even heard of Luther and though the Lutherans are rightly quite proud of him, he wasn't the only fish in the theological sea.

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