Early Activity in the Protestant cause (§ 1).
The Reformation in Strasburg (§ 2).
Endeavors to Reconcile Luther and Zwingli (§ 3).
The Wittenberg Concord (§ 4).
Critique of Butzer's Attitude in the Controversy (§ 5).
Butzer in England (§ 6).
Death of Butzer (§ 7).
Martin Butzer (Bucer) was born at Schlettstadt (26 m. s.w. of Strasburg) Nov. 11, 1491; d. at Cambridge, Eng., Feb. 28, 1551. He received his first education at the excellent Latin school of his native town, and in 1506 joined the order of the Dominicans. In 1517 he was at Heidelberg, where he studied the writings of the humanists, the Bible, and also the writings of Luther, whose personal acquaintance he made in 1518 and with whom he began to correspond in 1520. Being suspected by his order and accused at Rome, Butzer, who favored the evangelical cause, left the monastery in 1520 to avoid further difficulties, and became an associate of Hutten and Sickingen. The latter called him in 1522 to the pastorate of Landstuhl, and in the same year he married, being one of the first priests to break his vow of celibacy. When Sickingen was defeated by the elector of Treves, however, Butzer had to leave the city, and for a year he acted as evangelical preacher at Wissenburg in Alsace, supported by the council and citizens, but attacked by the Franciscan monks. In 1523 he went to Strasburg, where the Reformation, prepared in different ways, was already in progress. Together with Zell, Capito, and Hedio, Butzer became the soul of the Strasburg Reformation, and by preaching and writing, by letters and journeys, and by personal relations with ecclesiastics and statesmen, he exerted a reformatory and organizing activity, not only in Alsace but also in different countries. He was pastor of St. Aurelia 1524-31, and pastor of St. Thomas 1531-40, having already become in 1530 president of the newly founded church council which was the supreme ecclesiastical authority in Strasburg.
Outside of Strasburg Butzer brought about the introduction of the Reformation into Hanau-Lichtenberg (1544), while Württemberg, Baden, and especially Hesse owed him much. For the elector of Cologne, Archbishop Hermann of Wied, Butzer, together with Melanchthon, composed an order of reformation (1543). His influence even reached as far as Belgium, Italy, and France.
Butzer's activity in ecclesiastical organization is treated too lightly in most works on church history, which lay their main stress on his efforts toward a union of the two main streams of the Reformation, and especially on his endeavors to reconcile Luther and Zwingli in the eucharistic controversy, which significantly interrupted the course of the main events in the period of the Reformation. When Carlstadt had to leave Strasburg in 1524, Butzer addressed a writing to Luther in the name of the Strasburg ministers, is which he and they expressed their position in regard to
Whatever views be held of Butzer's efforts for union, especially in the eucharistic controversy, his honest intention and his unselfish zeal to serve the Church are beyond all question. His diplomatic tactics were not always such as to inspire confidence, and they gave offense to other parties besides Luther. Butzer himself felt it afterward and honestly acknowledged that he had not always interfered in a discreet manner. The whole subject of controversy was of less interest for Butzer than for Luther, hence Butzer's readiness to make concessions and ever new formularizations. The real success of his endeavors was that the South Germans were not only induced to make common political cause with the North Germans, but were also drawn into the communion of Lutheranism, in spite of their peculiar doctrine of the Lord's Supper. The fact that Melanchthon, influenced partly by Butzer, took an intermediate position, and was thus drawn nearer to Calvin, was also far-reaching in its importance for the future formation of the Evangelical Church in Germany. The outcome of the Schmalkald War and the defeat of the Protestants (1547) gave the emperor power to settle the religious troubles by the Augsburg Interim (see INTERIM) in 1548, which was accepted by the majority of the intimidated diet and was to be forced upon the city of Strasburg. This was most energetically opposed by Butzer and his younger colleague, Paul Fagius, on the ground of the Romanizing character of the document. But when the council, yielding to the force of circumstances, accepted the Interim, Butzer perceived that he could remain in Strasburg no longer, and he accepted a call to England, whither he had been invited, together with Fagius, by Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, the soul of the Reformation in England.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: A complete collection of Butzer's works has never been made, that begun by his associate K. Hubert never getting beyond the first volume, Basel, 1577 (known as Tomus Anglicanus because it contained mostly writings published in England). A bibliography of Butzer's published works and literature about him was issued by F. Mentz and A. Erichson in Vierhundertjährige Geburtsfeier M. Butzer's, Strasburg, 1891. Consult: J. W. Baum, Capito und Butzer, Strassburgs Reformatoren, Elberfeld, 1860 (from the sources); I. B. Rady, Die Reformatoren in ihrer Beziehung zur Doppelehe des Landgrafen Philipp, Frankfort, 1890; C. Conrad, Martin Butzer, Strasburg, 1891; A. Erichson, Die calvinistische und die Altstrassburger Gottesdienstordnung, ib. 1894; H. von Schubert, in Beiträge zur Reformationsgeschichte, pp. 192-228, Gotha, 1896; A. Ernst and J. Adam, Katechetische Geschichte des Elsasses bis zur Reformation, pp. 42-72, Strasburg, 1897; F. Hubert, Strassburger Katechismen aus den Tagen der Reformation, in ZKG, xx. (1899) 395-413; A. Lang, Der Evangelienkommentar Butzers und die Grundzüge seiner Theologie, in Studien zur Geschichte der Theologie und Kirche, vol. ii., Leipsic, 1900; S. M. Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli, passim, New York, 1903; J. Kostlin, Martin Luther, ed. G. Kawerau, passim, 2 vols., Berlin, 1903; J. M. Reu, Quellen zur Geschichte des kirchlichen Unterrichts, Gütersloh, 1904; J. Ficker, Thesaurus Baumianus, Strasburg, 1905; Moeller, Christian Church, vol. iii., passim; Schaff, Christian Church, vol. vi., passim.
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