Unity of the Spirit

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Daily Reformation, Ephesians 4:1-3

From the Reformer

Zwingli was scarcely two months younger than Luther, who survived him fifteen years. Both were educated and ordained in the Roman Church, and became innocently and providentially reformers of that Church. Both were men of strong mind, heroic character, fervent piety, and commanding influence over the people. Both were good scholars, great divines, and fond of poetry and music. Both labored independently for the same great cause of evangelical Protestantism—the one on a smaller, the other on a larger field. But their endowment, training, and conversion were different. Zwingli had less prejudice, more practical common-sense, clear discrimination, sober judgment, self-control, courtesy, and polish—Luther more productive genius, poetic imagination, overpowering eloquence, mystic; depth, fire, and passion; and was in every way a richer and stronger, though rougher and wilder nature. Zwingli’s eyes were opened by the reading of the Greek Testament, which he carefully copied with his own hand, and the humanistic learning of his friend Erasmus; while Luther passed through the ascetic struggles of monastic life, till he found peace of conscience in the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Zwingli broke more rapidly and more radically with the Roman Church than Luther. He boldly abolished all doctrines and usages not taught in the Scriptures; Luther piously retained what was not clearly forbidden. He aimed at a reformation of government and discipline as well as theology; Luther confined himself to such changes as were directly connected with doctrine. He was a Swiss and a republican; Luther, a German and a monarchist. He was a statesman as well as a theologian; Luther kept aloof from all political complications, and preached the doctrine of passive obedience to established authority. They met but once in this world, and then as antagonists, at Marburg, two years before Zwingli’s death. They could not but respect each other personally, though Luther approached the Swiss with the strongest prejudice, looking upon him as a fanatic and semi-infidel. They came to an agreement on every article of faith except the real presence in the Eucharist. Zwingli proposed, with tears, peace and union, notwithstanding this difference, but Luther refused the hand of Christian fellowship, because he made doctrinal agreement the boundary-line of brotherhood.

—Philip Schaff, Creeds of Cristendom

Pulling It Together

“And I just may not come back to church anymore!” Feelings of resentment and rejection and jealousy abound in the church. Beyond that there are doctrinal differences, as well as matters of practice that divide congregations. If that will not makes enemies of the Friends of Jesus then the color of the new sanctuary carpet will suffice. There is only one cure for this Church disease and it is not agreement on doctrine or trying harder. The cure for every relational malady is Jesus. When he is more important than self and when one truly prays, “Thy will be done,” then and only then can every effort be made to bear with one another in love, to “agree in the Lord (Phil 4:2), and “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers

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