Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Review: For God and His People

I have finished reading Jean Henri Merle D’Aubigne’s biography of Ulrich Zwingli For God and His People. It is excellent and I highly recommend this book. D’Aubigne is a fantastic historian, and he makes sure we get a thorough look at the reformer of Zurich, Ulrich Zwingli. It is loaded with quotes from the time, although not always cited. The portrait of Zwingli is a man who stood for the Bible and salvation in Christ above all things. Much more so than Luther, Zwingli wanted a return to the Bible. His reforming days are shown and his struggles to change not only Zurich, but also all of Switzerland. We are introduced to many of his reforming friends, so it is also a good book to get glimpse of other reformers too. The book does not fall into mindless praise. It does openly criticize when it feels compelled to do so, although the other at one point explains his reluctance to engage the facts too much in a biography. I personally thought D’Aubigne went a bit too far in his rather harsh treatment of Zwingli’s end when Zwingli argued for war. Not this his assessment of Zwingli making a mistake and even sinning was wrong, but I felt he may have brought it up a few too many times. The information he obtained about the Marburg Colloquy was very interesting. I had not seen the Colloquy discussed in such detail before. I did not know that they had actively kept Zwingli and Luther apart on the first day before the formal Colloquy began. The fear of the two men’s tempers was enough to make sure they did not cross each other too early.

One other slight criticism I had was that the book did not always keep the chronological order. The Marburg Colloquy takes a whole chapter, as it should, but the next chapter actually starts prior to the Colloquy. One has to make sure he reads the dates and keeps the dates straight or one will get a few of the events out of sequence. It does not happen often, but it did a couple of times and I thought it worth noting.

Still, I do recommend this book, which is not very long making it enjoyable and easily readable. It is impossible to read this book and come away with the view that Zwingli is an unimportant figure of the Reformation. Rather this book restores Zwingli to his rightful place as the Father of the Reformed Reformation.