Zanchi on the Godly Prince

The Protestant Reformers were known as the Magisterial Reformers, which means that they worked closely with their kings.  Luther appealed to the German princes to Reform the Church, and the other Reformers followed suit.  Different regions had different political structures, largely influencing the various churches’ polities, but all were agreed on the basic position.

Zanchi was an Italian Reformer who studied in Geneva and eventually made his way to the University of Heidelberg.  He has a lengthy discourse on the Godly Prince in his De religione christiana fide.  He states:

Chapt. 26- Of the Magistrate

V. The office of a godly prince concerning religion is two fold and wherein it chieflie consisteth.

Now, sith the duetie of a godly prince, that is a magistrate, which hath a free power over any people and authoritie within his iurisdiction to institute and reforme religion, is twofold, which hee oweth to Christ and to the church in the cause of religion. One about such things as belong unto religion; the other respecteth men, which are in his iurisdiction and sbiect unto him. For the first, our beleefe is that he should diligently take heede that by the pure word of God rightly understood and expounded by the verie word it selfe and according to the principles of faith (that which they call the analogie or rule of faith), religion may be instituted in his dominion or kingdome; or where it is instituted, may be kept sound and pure; or where it is corrupted, may be restored and reformed to the glory of God and salvation of his subiects. For this we read hath beene commaunded of God and of Moses, and ever observed of all godlie princes. Continue reading

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Papal Power

In vindicating the Reformers right to protest against the claims of the Papacy, French Reformer Jean Claude writes:

What could our fathers say to that divine power that the flatterers of the Popes attributed to them? As the Glossary of the Decretals, which remarks, “That everyone said of the Pope that he had all divine power- caeleste arbitrium ; that by reason he could change the nature of things, applying the essential properties of one thing to another; that he could make something of nothing; that a proposition which was nothing he could make to be something; that in all things that he should please to do, his will might serve for a reason; that there is none who could say to him, Why dost thou do that?  that he could dispense with whatsoever was right, and make injustice to become justice, by changing and altering that which was right; and, in fine, that he had a plentitude, a fulness of power.”

~ A Defense of the Reformation trans. T.B-M.A. 1815, pg. 21

These are amazing claims, and we too often forget that they were actually made and actually believed by many.  They were binding upon the consciouses of the faithful, and indeed, one has a difficult time seeing how they do not seek to take the place of God.  This is just one reason why the Reformers responded to the papacy in the manner that they did.