- Bucer, Martin
- (1491-1551 )unifying church leader in the Reformation eraAs a leader of the 16th-century Reformation, Martin Bucer became known for his efforts to reconcile the opposing views of Swiss reformer Ulrich Zwingli and Martin Luther. Bucer was born on November 11, 1491, at Schlettstadt, Alsace, and became a Dominican monk at age 14; he eventually graduated from the University of Heidelberg in 1517. The following year, he heard Luther speak for the first time and soon became an enthusiastic supporter of the Reformation. He left the Dominicans in 1521. While serving as a parish priest in Landstuhl (1522), he married Elizabeth Silbereisen, a former nun.In 1523, he moved to Strasburg, where he soon became the dominant voice of the Reformation in the region. His efforts to mediate between Zwingli and Luther, whose ideas on the Lord's Supper diverged considerably, brought him criticism from both camps. Zwingli and Luther met personally to attempt a reconciliation, but the Marburg Colloquy of 1529 failed. Bucer tried again in 1530, when he presented the Confession of the Four Cities (Strasburg, Constance, Memmingen, and Lindau), which mediated the two positions but proved acceptable to neither. Later that year, he gave up and simply adhered to the Lutheran Augsburg Confession of Faith.Though now committed to the Lutherans, in 1536 he led in the "Concordia of Wittenberg," a last attempt to unite German-speaking protestants. He also tried to further the protestant cause among Roman Catholics by attending the 1540 Catholic-Protestant conference at Hagenau, Lower Alsace, and the 1541 Diet of Ratisbon. He worked with Philip Melanchthon to introduce Lutheran ideas into the Archdiocese of Cologne in 1542, though the effort had little effect.For three years (1538-41), John Calvin lived in Strasburg and absorbed much of his thinking about church organization and the nature of the ideal Christian society from Bucer. Bucer is seen as the fountainhead of the Book of Church Order that later became a standard document in the Reformed tradition.in 1548, the diet at Ausburg proclaimed a temporary doctrinal agreement (the Augsburg Interim) between Catholics and Protestants in Germany. Though it permitted the marriage of priests and the offering of the Eucharist in both kinds, on most issues it accepted the Roman Catholic stance. Bucer emerged as one of its most outspoken opponents, and his position at Strasburg became untenable. in 1549, he accepted an invitation extended from Archbishop Thomas Cranmer to move to England, where he was offered a position as Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University. He died in Cambridge a scant two years later on February 28, 1551.In 1556, Catholic queen Mary I (1553-58) had Bucer's remains exhumed and burned and his tomb demolished. The tomb was reconstructed in 1560 under Elizabeth I. In 1577, the first of a projected 10-volume set of his writings appeared under the title Tomas Anglicanus, a reflection of the high-church content.Further reading:■ W. P Stephens, The Holy Spirit in the Theology of Martin Bucer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970)■ D. F Wright, Martin Bucer: Reforming Church and Community (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.