Heinrich Bullinger: on Justification


This paper examines the doctrine of justification in Heinrich Bullinger’s theology. The reformer wrote a commentary on the Gospel of John in 1543, the preface of which was ample and significant enough to be published in a separate edition with the title of that new work being Iustificatio. After the Reformation there were several debates on the doctrine of justification. The author and the publisher thought that it would be useful for the apologists to publish the work separately. Since then, this work has not been published as an integral translation, neither in German nor in English, or in other languages for that matter.

The aim of this paper is to present a part of Bullinger’s Iustificatio in a translated version, in this particular case in Hungarian. First, however, I examined the life of the reformer; I presented the current state of the so-called Bullinger-research in detail, then I discussed his childhood, his studies, his ministry service and, in brief, I introduced his prominent theological works. He wrote more than 100 publications, letters to reformers, theologians, ministers, kings, and also citizens amounting to more than 12,000 items. It is noteworthy that his letter-collection was larger than that of Luther and Calvin together. He had pen pals all throughout Europe.

In the following chapter I examined his Hungarian relationships, especially his contacts with the people from Transylvania. I strongly believe that he made a huge impact on the reformation over there, through his works, relationships and exchange of lettersFurthermore, I presented his theology, particularly on the doctrine of justification. The work I translated discusses this topic. Analyzing our translation and the fifteenth chapter of the Second Helvetic Confession, I argue that Bullinger contends: God as a judge justifies, in other words frees us from our sins and pronounces us righteous. This, however, can happen only through the death of Jesus Christ. We ought to believe in this justification, but it should be mentioned that God is the one who gives us the faith as a gift. In the last chapter I presented my translation of the first and second chapter of Bullinger’s Iustificatio along with the process of that long and detailed work. I hope that in the near future I can continue this work in order to finish the translation of the whole book. Hopefully the translated version will carry significant value for dogmatists in their further research.

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