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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [1]

Conference or Disputation Of a name given especially to a conference held in 1528, which led to the establishment of the Reformation in that city. The soil of Berne, not originally favorable to the reform, was suddenly prepared for it by the juggling doings of the Dominicans (1507-1509), and by Sampson's bold traffic in indulgences (Mosheim, Ch. Hist. 3, 13, 27). The reform movement was earnestly preached by Kolb, Haller, etc. (q.v.). The bishop of Lausanne demanded the indictment of the heretical preachers, but the council of the city refused to interfere. Great excitement arose (D'Aubigne, Hist. of Ref. bk. 8). The mandates of Viti and Modesti (June 15, 1523) were intended to mediate between the parties, and the council forbade any preaching, "whether of doctrine given out by Luther or other doctors, in the way of disputation, apart or aside from proof out of the Word of God." For two years the cause of reform fluctuated between advance and retreat. In 1526 the "Baden Disputation" was held, and its issue seemed likely to be fatal to the reformers. But the decisions of Baden were too severe and partial for the patience of the Bernese, to whom Haller and Kolb were still preaching. On November 17th, 1527, the great council decided to hold a conference at Berne to settle the disputes by appeals to the Word of God. They invited the bishops of Constance, Basle, the Valais, and Lausanne, and the Leagues of both parties were requested to send "delegates and learned men." The bishops declined the invitation, and the emperor, Charles V, sent a dissuasive, advising trust and recourse to the anticipated general council. Nevertheless, there was a large assembly that opened on the 6th of January, 1528, the majority being reformers, and among them Bucer, Capito, (Ecolampadius, and Zuingle. A graphic account of the discussion is given by D'Aubigne (History of Reformation, bk. 15). Among the results of this disputation were the abrogation of the mass, the removal of images, etc., from the churches, and the Reformation Edict of Feb. 7th, 1528, annulling the authority of the bishops, settling questions of Church order, etc. For Berne, and, in fact, for Switzerland, this conference was the turning-point of the Reformation. See D'Aubigne, as above cited, and Fischer, Geschichte d. Disputation u. Reformation in Bern (Berne, 1828); Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 2, 81; Ruchat, Reformation in Switzerland, ch. 4.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [2]

A fine Swiss town on the Aar, which almost surrounds it, in a populous canton of the same name; since 1848 the capital of the Swiss Confederation; commands a magnificent view of the Bernese Alps; a busy trading and manufacturing city.