History, Department of
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From 1561 to 1563 the Strasbourg church was wracked by a bitter controversy between Johann Marbach, leader of the city's clergy, and Girolamo Zanchi, professor at the Strasbourg Academy. The controversy was finally resolved in March 1563, when the two parties signed a consensus on the disputed issues of predestination, the perseverance of the saints, and the Lord's Supper. Modern historians of doctrine generally discuss the Strasbourg controversy and the 1563 Consensus in the context of the struggle of later sixteenth-century Lutheranism to define orthodoxy, and they stress that the disagreement focused not on the sacrament of the altar but rather on what later became one of the hallmarks of the Reformed faith, the doctrine of predestination. Less well-known is the fact that the Strasbourg conflict had important repercussions within Switzerland, precisely because of the Consensus' statement on the Lord's Supper. The agreement signed in 1563 may have ended the controversy in Strasbourg, but it threatened the unity of the four evangelical cities of Geman-speaking Switzerland, because one of its signatories was Simon Sulzer, antistes of the Basel church and rector of the city's university. Heinrich Bullinger and the leaders of the other Swiss churches attempted to use Sulzer's signature of the Consensus to remove Sulzer from his influential position in Basel because they regarded him as a dangerous theological enemy. Their failure set the stage for Basel's gradual alienation from the other Reformed churches and cities in Switzerland over the next two decades.
Originally published in Archive for Reformation History 83 (1992), pp. 154–179. The Archive is published under the auspices of Verein für Reformationsgeschichte and the Society for Reformation Research. http://w3fp.arizona.edu/archive/ Copyright © 1992 Amy Nelson Burnett. Used by permission of the author.