Did you know that a transcript survives of the Marburg Colloquy (1529), in which Luther and Zwingli debated the presence of Christ in the elements of Holy Communion? Did you know that it is posted online?
This meeting, attended by virtually all of the major figures of the early Reformation, was an attempt to settle the Reformation’s sacramental teachings once and for all. Phillip of Hesse organized the event in an attempt to unify the Reformation side in the face of imminent military threat from the Holy Roman Emperor. But Luther would not water down his teaching for pragmatic reasons. With the Marburg Colloquy, the Lutherans and the Reformed went their separate ways, with most subsequent Protestants following, in effect, a non-sacramental approach to Christianity.
The transcript reads like a play, or a screenplay. (Suggestion: Somebody perform this!) For all of its theological give and take, it has quite a few dramatic moments: Luther writing “This is my body” in chalk on the table beneath a tablecloth, continually referring to it in the course of Zwingli’s rationalistic arguments. Luther at more than one point saying, “I’m tired–Phillip [Melanchthon], you take over,” only to erupt at the next thing Zwingli says without letting Phillip get a word in edgewise. The emotional moments on both sides. The ending with its pleas for reconciliation and Luther’s devastating “we are not of the same spirit.”
Read the beginning after the jump and go to the link to read it all. Notice the different approaches not just to the Sacrament but to the Bible and, above all, to Christology. [Read more…]