BERN, DISPUTATION OF: The decisive point in the contest which definitely established the Reformation at Bern. At first the movement made slow progress there, as both the character of the people and their manner of life rendered them little susceptible to new ideas; even after a reforming party arose, for several years things continued in an undecided and vacillating condition. The somewhat violent and domineering manner in which the Roman Catholic authorities attempted to use their victory at the Conference of Baden (1526; See BADEN, CONFERENCE OF) brought on a crisis which, after the fashion of the time, it was attempted to meet by means of a disputation. Some of the Reformers invited to participate declined, having in mind the result at Baden, and the Roman Catholic dignitaries and celebrities generally refused to attend. But a great number of delegates and clergy appeared from Switzerland and the South German states, including Zwingli, (Ecolampadius, Butzer, Capito, Ambrose Blaurer, and others. The opening session was held on Jan. 6, 1528, and the discussions lasted from the following day till Jan. 26. They were based on ten theses carefully prepared by Berthold Haller and Franz Kolb and revised by Zwingli. The outcome was that the ten theses were subscribed to by most of the clergy of Bern, the mass was done away with, the images were quietly removed from the churches, and on Feb. 7 the Reformation edict was issued, which gave the theses force of law, annulled the power of the bishops, and made the necessary regulations concerning the clergy, public worship, church property, etc. The majority of the country congregations soon gave in their adherence. The influence of the disputation was felt even in France, the Netherlands, and England.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: The acts of the disputation were published at Zurich, 1528, and again in 1608 and 1701; the Ten Theses are given in English in Schaff, Creeds, i, 364-366, and Christian Church, vii, 104-105, in German and Latin, Creeds, iii, 208-210. Consult S. Fischer, Geschichte der Disputation und Reformation in Bern, Bern, 1828; S. M. Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli, pp. 280-283, New York, 1903.

BERN, SYNOD OF: The name given to the first Reformed synod at Bern (1532). The Reformation was established at Bern by the Disputation and the edict of Feb. 7, 1528 (see BERN, DISPUTATION OF), but much remained to be done in the way of consolidation and to finish the building of the new Church. This task was entrusted to a general synod, to which all the clergy of the land, 220 in number, were invited. It met on Jan. 9-14; Capito from Strasburg was the principal figure, and he collected the results of the discussion with much care and labor. They form a church directory and pastor's manual which is noteworthy, even among the monuments of the Reformation time, for its apostolic force and unction, its warmth and sincerity, its homely simplicity and practical wisdom.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: The acts of the synod were officially printed at Basel, 1532, again in 1728 sad 1778. Both the original and a modernized text were issued by Lauener, Basel, 1830. Consult M. Kirchhofer, Berthold Haller, pp. 169 sqq., Zurich, 1828; Billeter, in the Berner Beiträge, ed. F. Nippold, Bern, 1884 (especially useful); E. Bloesch, Geschichte der schweizerisch-reformierten Kirchen, i, 74-81, Bern, 1898.


CCEL home page
This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at
Calvin College. Last modified on 05/10/04. Contact the CCEL.
Calvin seal: My heart I offer you O Lord, promptly and sincerely