The Understanding of the Church in Heinrich Bullinger's Theology


  • W. Peter Stephens


Heinrich Bullinger, Ecclesiology


The church is central to, but not the centre of Heinrich Bullinger's theology. There is for him no salvation outside the church and salvation is itself ecclesial as well as personal. The article considers the main contexts in which Bullinger expounds his understanding of the church and the major areas of disagreement: scripture, salvation, unity, and catholicity with his Roman and Anabaptist opponents, but also holiness with Anabaptists. The issues involved in these areas differ according to the context, for example, with Roman opponents the authority of scripture over and against that of the church, but with Anabaptists the authority of the Old Testament alongside the New. In his exposition of the outward marks of the church, Bullinger mostly points to word and sacrament, through which Christ establishes the church, although the emphasis is on the word. He also mentions other marks, such as suffering. The inward marks are the Holy Spirit, faith, and love. Characteristically, Bullinger draws on a range of biblical passages in his exposition, including the various biblical images of the church, but with his Roman opponents he also adduces the support of the fathers.


How to Cite

Stephens, W. P. (2014). The Understanding of the Church in Heinrich Bullinger’s Theology. Zwingliana, 41, 57–84. Retrieved from