Traditions in Worship and the early Reformed at Marburg

Sam Jer

Puritan Board Freshman
In the Marburg colloqui, it was agreed that:
Thirteenth, that that which we call traditions in our human order in spiritual and ecclesiastical business, so long as they are not clearly contrary to God’s Word, may be followed or abandoned so that those with whom we deal can be shielded from all nature of unnecessary annoyance and the weak and common peace can be aided through love.

Did Zwingli and Bucer mean by this a rejection of regulative worship, or strictly refer to circumstancial traditions? Is there such a thing as circumstancial traditions?
Last edited:
Marburg took place in 1529, which is to say quite early in the Reformation period. Many doctrinal points that would come to characterize this or that stream of the Reformation were still inchoate. This expression was toward unity, in hopes of forging a united movement behind both Luther and Zwingli and those who stood close to one or the other principal. The Lutheran perspective (as we recognize it now) is stated in that agreement, inasmuch as Luther aimed to retain whatever could be kept as "heritage" for the evangelical churches from connection with the Medieval church. This continues today, as there are numerous traditions carried over in Lutheranism, which Reformed and Presbyterians find unacceptable, or should so regard them if they know their confessional identity as it was forged over the many decades of the Reformation age.

In short, Zwingli et al were not yet committed to the regulative principle of worship that would eventually be confessed by those who (being separated or excluded from the Lutheran movement) would put that principle into their confessions. Marburg was held in hopes of common ground and singleness of purpose. But the Lord's Supper was a deal-breaker for Luther, and Zwingli's position was to Luther something actually outside the Christian faith. So, in spite of the many agreements, lack of consent on the nature of Communion meant failure.