Psalm 138:8—The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me. LORD, Your love is eternal; do not abandon the work of Your hands.
While in the Swiss city of Zurich, I had occasion to view a stone carving of Heinrich Bullinger on a beautiful old church. In studying his life it becomes clear why his profile is carved into stone. Bullinger’s literary output during his forty-four years as the chief minister in Zurich, exceeded that of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli combined (men who also significantly influenced him). “So far-reaching was Bullinger’s reformation influence throughout continental Europe and England that Theodore Beza called him “the common shepherd of all Christian churches.”
Heinrich Bullinger was born on July 18, 1504 in the town of Bremgarten near Zurich. His father groomed him for the priesthood and by the age of twelve he attended the monastic school in Emmerich. Later he attended the University of Cologne where Heinrich studied Ambrose, Chrysostom and Augustine. He was so moved by their love for God’s Word that he studied the Bible for himself—a pursuit almost unknown to his fellow students. At the age of 17, he embraced the truth that justification for salvation by God required faith alone in Jesus Christ.
Ironically, his father was forced to resign from the church he pastored in Bremgarten. So effective was Heinrich’s preaching that the church selected him to take his dad’s place. Heinrich then married a former nun, Anna Adischwyler, and the two of them had eleven children of their own in addition to adopting others. All six of their sons became ministers. During a time of great religious upheaval, Bullinger, to avoid hanging, fled to Zurich where he was selected to take Zwingli’s pastorate at Grossmünster at the tender age of 27. He agreed to take the position when the Council of Zurich guaranteed clergy freedom to preach on all aspects of life in the city to include politics. He became the chief minister of the city therefore taking the mantle as the leader of the Reformed movement in German-speaking Switzerland.
Bullinger reformed the Swiss school system and during his first ten years of ministry preached 6-7 times a week. Like Zwingli, he preached verse by verse with clear and practical teaching through entire books of Scripture. It is thought that Bullinger preached between 7000-7500 sermons. This humble and hard-working man had a huge heart. He and Anna opened their home to orphans, widows, strangers, exiles, and persecuted brethren. They gave food, clothing, and money to the needy. Heinrich produced one of the first Protestant books for comforting the sick and dying. “Many of the persecuted believers of England escaped Mary Tudor’s reign of terror in Zurich, finding refuge in Bullinger’s open arms. Upon their return home, these refugees became leading English Puritans.”
Using his considerable theological abilities, Bullinger helped author both Helvetic Confessions (http://www.ccel.org/creeds/helvetic.htm). He was consulted by English royalty and provided wise counsel to countless European reformers. Despite the loss of his wife and several daughters in the plagues that hit the city in 1564 and 1565, this great reformer persevered in ministry and today remains inscribed as a man who fulfilled God’s purpose!
©2014 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)
Theodore Beza, cited in Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. VIII, 207.
I am indebted to Steven Lawson and his great article at http://www.ligonier.org/blog/covenant-theologian-heinrich-bullinger/