Monday, December 18

The Decades of Henry Bullinger (4 Volume Set) Part 1 of 2

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 Welcome to the Still Waters Revival Books video book summary for “The Decades of Henry Bullinger” (4 Volume Set) Fifty Sermons Divided Into Five Decades Containing the Chief and Principle Points of Christian Religion (1849-1852 edition) Part 1 of 2 “Henry Bullinger (1504-1575) was one of the most widely esteemed leaders of the Reformed churches, and The Decades was the most famous of his 150 treatises and manuscripts. The Decades derives its name from being a series of fifty theological sermons divided into five groups of ten sermons each. Each sermon is a helpful, detailed exposition of an important doctrine. Combined, they encompass the field of theology in a form readable for the typical layman.

They became more popular than Calvin’s Institutes in England.” “From 1550 to 1560, there were in England 77 editions of Bullinger’s Latin ‘Decades’ and 137 editions of their vernacular translation “House Book”, a treatise in pastoral theology (in comparison, Calvin’s Institutes had two editions in England during the same time). Some historians count Bullinger together with Bucer as the most influential theologian of the Anglican reformation. Bullinger played a crucial role in the drafting of the Second Helvetic Confession of 1566. What eventually became the Second Helvetic Confession originated in a personal statement of his faith which Bullinger intended to be presented to the Zurich Rat upon his death.

In 1566, when the elector palatine introduced Reformed elements into the church in his region, Bullinger felt that this statement might be useful for the elector, so he had it circulated among the Protestant cities of Switzerland who signed to indicate their assent. Later, the Reformed churches of France, Scotland, and Hungary would do likewise. Bullingers works comprise 127 titles. Already during his lifetime they were translated in several languages and counted among the best known theological works in Europe. His main work was the Decades, ‘a treatise in pastoral theology,’ in the vernacular called ‘House Book’.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Bullinger). “This reprinting of Bullinger’s The Decades makes available a seminal survey of Christian teaching by one of the most significant of the second generation Reformers.

Both in their content and in their homiletical tone, The Decades offered the mid-sixteenth century a basic text from which Christian readers could learn both the content of the faith and the life of Christian obedience. Their importance is evidenced in the numerous printings both in Latin and in the vernacular that mark out the influence of The Decades among English, Dutch, and German-speaking Protestants. May this reprint enhance contemporary recognition of Bullinger’s contribution to the Reformation.” – Richard A. Muller Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan “Presented in theological form ‘The Decades’ contain fifty sermons that expound some of the most important doctrinal themes of the Reformation; certainly, Bullinger’s most comprehensive and complete theological work.

It holds firm to the conviction that the covenant unity of history is a manifestation of God’s Providential action in time. This work towers in scope and depth. The Decades are the result of years of dedicated research. They contain extensive scripture citations and quotations from early church fathers, such as Augustine and Tertullian. “For Bullinger, the Church did not start at the dawn of Pentecost or birth of Christ (as taught by proponents of dispensationalism) but has been in existence since the promise made in Genesis 3:15. Such is the nature and essence of all true covenant theology.

“The Decades are the historical embodiment of Reformed theology. So effective and articulate was their theological influence that Archbishop Whitgift in 1568 ‘obtained an order in convocation that every clergyman should procure a copy of [The Decades] and read one [sermon]once a week’. At one time these volumes (originally published in five) where required reading for all clergy. “In his essay, Heinrich Bullinger as Theologian, Edward Dowey comments, ‘Bullinger’s Decades, a major reformation classic, is unchallengeable his most full bodied and comprehensive theological work, containing the richness of his scholarship, gathering together themes of all his major writings up to that time, and exhibiting the churchly purpose of being a theological source book for pastors to aid them in the preparation of sermons.’

“Nicolas Elliot (Englishman of law and pupil of Bullinger) has said regarding Bullinger’s work, ‘Your books are well received, not only by our king, but equally so by the lord Cromwell, who is keeper of the king’s privy seal and vicar of the church of England. May God, therefore, give you the disposition to publish all your writings as speedily as possible, whereby you will not only fill the coffers, of the booksellers, but will gain over very many souls to Christ, and adorn his church with most precious jewels.’ “Bullinger survived the plague of 1564 and 1565, but lost his wife and three children (events certain to cause sorrow in the strongest of hearts). However, Bullinger’s resolve in Providence was firm: ‘We content ourselves in the only word of God; and do therefore simply believe and teach, that God by his providence doth govern all things.’

He was a true scholar and pastor of the Reformation; sought out by Calvin, on more than one occasion, for his comfort, counsel and friendship. Calvin called Bullinger an ‘illustrious and highly to be revered brother in the Lord’. Hence, he was not just a theologian, but also a man of firm character and godly reputation. “It is a great and mysterious question as to why Bullinger’s writings fell into obscurity, why his works have been neglected; not receiving the wide recognition, as did Calvin’s. Bullinger was born 5 years before Calvin and lived 11 years after Calvin. Calvin’s correspondence consists of roughly 4,300 letters while Bullinger produced some 12,000 letters. His collected works comprise over 119 volumes, of which, The Decades represent the best that those volumes have to offer. “Comparable to ‘Calvin’s Institutes’ in magnitude and comprehensiveness (at one time even outselling them) these volumes are bound to bring theological pleasure to readers for years to come. “So, should you buy Bullinger’s Decades?

Yes, buy them. For in buying The Decades, it is no exaggeration to say that we are buying a valuable piece of the Reformation. Perhaps, we will not agree with all his positions, but neither do we agree with every good theologian line upon line. Overall the sermons are sound, theologically precise and delivered straight from the heart of a man properly labeled ‘pastor’s pastor’. “As Jean-Marc Berthoud has said, ‘Much else could usefully be said on this immensely scholarly doctor of the Church, this incomparable pastor, this man of indomitable faith whose mighty works, though today largely forgotten and sadly neglected, still spread, for whoever takes the trouble to consult them, a truly heavenly light.’ When you posses The Decades I am confident they will speak for themselves.” – Heinrich Bullinger “The Decades” reviewed by B. K. Campbell Contents of “The Decades of Henry Bullinger” (Volume 1): The Preface (pp. 1-11). 2. Of the Four General Synods or Councils (pp. 12-35). 3. The First Decade of Sermons (pp. 36-192).

1. First Sermon: Of the Word of God; the cause of it; and how, and by whom, it was revealed to the world (36-57).

2. Second Sermon: Of the Word of God; to whom, and to what end, it was revealed; also in what manner it is to be heard; and that it doth fully teach the whole doctrine of godliness (57-70).

3. Third Sermon: Of the sense and right exposition of the word of God, and by what manner of means it may be expounded (70-80).

4. Fourth Sermon: Of true faith; from whence it cometh; that it is an assured belief of the mind, whose only stay is upon God and his Word (81-97).

5. Fifth Sermon: That there is one only true faith, and what the virtue thereof is (97-104).

6. Sixth Sermon: That the faithful are justified by faith without the law and works (104-121).

7. Seventh Sermon: Of the first articles of the Christian faith contained in the Apostles’ Creed (122-139).

8. Eighth Sermon: Of the latter articles of the Christian faith contained in the Apostles’ Creed (140-157).

9. Ninth Sermon: Of the latter articles of Christian faith contained in the Apostles’ Creed (157-179).

10. Tenth Sermon: Of the love of God and Neighbor (180-192).

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