Monday, August 09, 2010

Basel the Mother Church of the Reformation

I know that the movement is underway to celebrate the Reformation’s 500th birthday in 2017. This is of course dated from Martin Luther nailing the 95 theses on the door at Wittenburg. The problem is I do not believe that is a good starting point for the Reformation. It is an easy one because it is a day that everyone can point to and say this day it started. But the Reformation was really already under way. It is impossible to point to a spot and say here it began, nor a time and say it started at this minute. But, if I had to give it a shot, I would say Basel 1505-06. Let us look at why.

In Basel in 1505 there were many future reformers. Leo Juda was graduating and about to take his first call in Alsace as a priest. Juda would end up in Zurich as a Reformer. It was probably at this time that he met Ulrich Zwingli who was also in Basel. Zwingli was teaching at a prepatory school in Basel. Yes, Zwingli was suspected of heresy at this time for refusing to condemn some writings that disavowed the use of images and indulgences and even the sign of the cross. Such things show Zwingli already leaning toward the Reformation though it had not yet begun. Also teaching in Basel at that time was Thomas Wittenbach. Wittenbach was teaching Protestant principles like Justification by faith alone. Wittenbach would later break from the church at Rome and become a Reformer. Leo Juda and Zwingli both sat in on his classes and credit him a great deal for his teaching evangelical doctrine.

1515 saw the hiring of Erasmus, which shows that Basel University and thus the town counsel were still fostering a spirit against the Roman church at least. The Cathedral called Wolfgang Capito to Basel, where he served for 4 years. Capito began correspondence with Zwingli during this time as well as Luther. Casper Hedio appears to have been in Basel as well. Both men probably leaned toward the Reformation already at this time. John Oecolampadius also first arrived in Basel in 1515. He would leave before his final return as the leading reformer of the city, but he was there during this time working closely with Erasmus. When Oswald Myconius arrived is a little unsure. He was student at Basel at some point, but he began to teach there in 1514. Myconius would become a gifted educator and great Reformer too. The Spirit of Basel was surely one of Reformation.

The town did not officially accept the Reformation until 1529, although it was inevitable in 1528. Still, the town showed the way for the Reformation in many ways. In 1522, Oecolampadius was back and openly preaching the Protestant Gospel. In 1522, Wilhelm Reublin was kicked out of his pastorate at St. Alban for being Reformed, but another church in town St. Theodore took him showing their acceptance of the Reformation. Marcus Bertschi also held evangelical beliefs and pastored St. Leonhard in town by 1523. In 1524 the town did excommunicate Jacob Immeli for getting married. That is a priest getting married before almost any of the other Reformers with the exception of Martin Bucer. Yes, Immeli was married before Martin Luther. He would be rehired after the Reformation took hold for good.

It should be noted that Basel then had a hand in the Reformation of Bern (Wyttenbach), Zurich (Zwingli and Juda), and Strassborg (Capito and Hedio). Other lesser known men were influential in St. Gall and its Reformation. And we have not even begun to talk of the printing industry in Basel and the effect it had. Basel in a very real sense is the mother church of the Reformation because of its far reaching effects. People networked and learned the true gospel of Jesus Christ while in Basel. It was here that the Reformation was born.

3 Comments:

陳倩江陳倩江陳倩江 said...

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佳幸雨幸雨幸雨俐 said...

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怡靜怡靜怡靜怡雯 said...

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