Marburg Conference

Marburg Conference a gathering of all the reformed theological leaders, held at the city of Marburg, Oct. 3, 1529, and designed to bring about, if possible, an agreement between Luther and Zwingle and their adherents. The landgrave Philip of Hesse, one of the noblest princes of the Reformation days, believing that the dissensions in the Protestant camp should be allayed, directed all his energies towards the conciliation of the two reformed factions, caused by a difference of opinion as to the proper observance of the eucharistic ceremony. With such a purpose in view, he invited the principal theologians of both parties to meet for the purpose of comparing their opinions in a friendly manner. Melancthon had already, in 1529, at the Diet of Spires, declared his readiness to attend such a conference (Corp. Ref. 1:1050 and 1078), and even had gone so far as to declare that he attached no special importance to the differences concerning the Eucharist

(Corp. Ref: 1:1046). Philip of Hesse now applied to Zwingle (Zwingli Opp. 8:287), who also expressed his willingness to come (Zwingli Opp. 8:662). Luther, however, at first strongly opposed the plan, fearing that it might result in more harm than good; but the landgrave persisting, Luther finally consented, and on Sept. 30, 1529, Luther, Melancthon, Cruciger, Jonas, Mykonius, and Menius, accompanied by the Saxon counsellor Eberhard, went to Marburg, where Philip had called the conference. The Swiss theologians had arrived the day before; among them, Zwingle, professor Rudolph Collin, OEcolampadius, Sturm, Bucer, and Hedio. Osiander, Brenz, and Agricola arrived only on October 2. A number of other theologians and eminent persons from all parts of Germany were also present. After a private conference between Luther and (Ecolampadius, and Zwingle and Melancthon, the public debates commenced. "In the first place, several points were discussed touching the divinity of Christ, original sin, baptism, the Word of God, etc., regarding which the Wittenbergers suspected the orthodoxy of Zwingle. These were all secondary matters with Zwingle, in reference to which he dropped his unchurchly views, and declared his agreement with the views of the oecumenical councils. But in regard to the article of the Lord's Supper he was the more persistent. Appealing to Joh 6:33, 'The flesh profiteth nothing,' he argued the absurdity of Luther's view" (Kurtz). Luther had insisted upon the literal interpretation of the expression, Hoc est corpus mncum. Both parties disputed without arriving at any better appreciation of each other's views. "Agreement was out of the question. Zwingle, nevertheless, declared himself ready to maintain fraternal fellowship, but Luther and his party rejected the offer. Luther said, Ihr habt einen andern geist denn wir.'" Still the conference, while failing in its main object, was not entirely fruitless. "Luther found that his opponents did not hold as offensive views as he supposed, and the Swiss also that Luther's doctrine was not so gross and Capernaitic as they thought." Both parties engaged to refrain in future from publishing injurious pamphlets against each other as they had formerly done, and agreed "to earnestly pray God to lead them all to a right understanding of the truth." At the request of the landgrave, Luther drew up a series of fifteen articles (Articles of Marburg), containing the common fundamental principles of the Reformation, which were subscribed to by the Zwinuglians. "In the first fourteen they declared unanimous consent to the oecumencical faith of the Church against the errors of papists and Anabaptists. In the fifteenth the Swiss conceded that the body and blood of Christ were present in the sacramenit, but they could not agree to his corporeal presence in the bread and wine" (Kurtz). The Articles of Marburg were subsequently used as a basis for the Confession of Augsburg (q.v.). See L. J. K. Schmitt, Das Religiongesepräch z. Marburg (Marb. 1840); A. Ebrard, D. Gesch. ud. Dogma's v. h. Abendmahle, 2:268; Hassenkamp, Hessiche Kirchengesch. 2:1, p. 35 sq.; H. Heppe, D. fünzfzehn Marrburger Artikel (Cassel, 1847 and 1854); Krauth, Te Conservative Reformationa (Philadel. 1871, 8vo), p. 355 sq., 427; Hagenbach, Hist. of Doctrines, 2:309, 314; Gieseler, Eccles. Hist. (Harper's edit.), 4:133; Kurtz, Ch. Hist. since the Reformation, p. 72 sq.; Herzog, Real-Encyklopädie, 9:13 sq. (J. H. W.)

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