Throwback Thursday: Searching for the Reformers; Hus and Zwingli

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on April 10, 2016 during a trip to Germany and Switzerland and has been revised.


There’s only a few days left on our 12-day trip to Martinshöhe, Germany to visit with family. It’s been very enjoyable, especially the time we’ve been able to spend with our grandson. We’re so grateful to the Lord to be able to be with him.

This was our third visit to Germany and each time my wife and I have taken a side-trip somewhere by ourselves to break things up. This time we visited Konstanz, Germany and Zürich, Switzerland. My wife’s grandfather was originally from Zürich and she had always wanted to visit there. I knew that the Swiss Reformer, Huldrych Zwingli, had been based in Zürich and that also sparked my personal interest. While researching our 5-hour trip to Zürich, I discovered the Bohemian/Czech pre-Reformer, Jan Hus, had been martyred in Konstanz, a city on our route. The house Hus had briefly lived in is now a museum, so we decided to visit there also.

We rented a car Tuesday morning and started off to Konstanz, a trip of 4 hours. When we arrived there we discovered parking was impossible, just like all European cities. We drove around looking for a hotel, but found nothing suitable; no big hotel chains in this small city. But we drove by the famous Konzil (Council) building where the Catholic church’s infamous Council of Constance (1414-1418) had convened. The Council found Jan Hus guilty of heresy and delivered him to the magistrates to be burned at the stake. The Council also elected a new pope because no one could figure out which of the three rival popes claiming the office at the time was the “legitimate” pontiff. The house where Hus lived prior to his trial was located in the pedestrians-only, old town section of the city and could not be seen from the road. With all the hassles of trying to find a hotel, we decided to push on to Zürich and stop again at Konstanz on our return.

We arrived in Zürich an hour later and relaxed for the rest of the evening. On Wednesday morning we were up bright and early and took a commuter train to the old town section. Our seven-hour walk took us through the winding, very narrow streets of the old town. The highlight for me was visiting the Grossmünster (“Great cathedral”) where Zwingli preached. While reading Erasmus’ New Testament translation, the Holy Spirit led Zwingli, like his more well-known contemporary, Martin Luther, to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and to pursue several reforms to return the church to the simple yet sublime Gospel of grace. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Grossmünster with its stark interior (Zwingli had removed and destroyed all of the idolatrous Catholic statuary). Not far from the church we saw Zwingli’s parsonage. After several more hours of strolling through Zürich’s old city section, we returned to the hotel happily exhausted.

Thursday morning, we began our trip back to Martinshöhe. We stopped at Konstanz once again, but decided the hassle of trying to find a parking spot and the long walk to the old town was not worth it for just a quick photo of the Hus house. I would have happily made the sacrifice had I been traveling alone, but, unfortunately, my wife does not share my enthusiasm for history.

I am so grateful to the Lord for raising up Reformers like Hus and Zwingli. Defying the Roman Catholic church usually meant certain death in those days. If you haven’t read about Hus and Zwingli, I would encourage you to do so. Succeeding Reformers would move the church even farther away from vestiges of Roman legalism and ritualism, but these brave men took the first very dangerous steps. Although Rome has not changed any of its major doctrines, some contemporary evangelical leaders are lining up to betray the Gospel and embrace Catholicism, as if the Reformation had never occurred. Many evangelicals would rather indulge in spiritual cotton candy rather than bother with any of the nitty gritty history of the Reformation.

Above: The Jan Hus House in Konstanz, Germany. Hus resided here for three weeks in November 1414 before he was imprisoned and his trial for heresy began.
Above: This monument in Konstanz commemorates the martyrdom of Jan Hus. It’s located midway between the Konzil Building where Hus was tried, and the Konzil Cathedral (Münster) where he was condemned to death.
Above: This monument stone in Konstanz marks the spot where Jan Hus was burnt alive at the stake.
Above: The Konzil Building (“Konzilgebäude”) in Konstanz, Germany built in 1388 where the Council of Constance (1414-1418) tried pre-Reformer Jan Hus as a heretic and also deposed the three rival claimants to the papal throne, John XXIII, Gregory XII, and Benedict XIII.

Postscript: In a speech delivered in Prague, Czech Republic on December 18, 1999, pope John Paul II expressed “deep sorrow” for the death of Jan Hus. How can a modern pope apologize for the ruling of a RC church council? What does that say about the RCC’s vaunted Magisterium?

20 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Searching for the Reformers; Hus and Zwingli

  1. Not to pry, was/is one of your sons in the military? I have been ALL over Europe and NEVER once did I/we rent a car. I give you a TON of credit! Even though we cannot lose our salvation, me driving in Europe would try God’s patience more than would be wise! As such, I stick to public transportation, cabs and man’s oldest form of travel, walking! All joking aside, this sounds like it was a really rewarding and personal experience for you! I am so thankful for the Reformation! I am thankful for the churches who are grounded in the 5 solas.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Both of our sons were/are in the Air Force. Our oldest son took an honorable discharge after one year (job was contracted out) but our youngest is still active, just completed his 20th year. He was stationed at Ramstein for a couple of years, met a fraulein at a local bar, one thing led to another and they got married. Always lived apart since he changed bases frequently and she wanted to stay in Germany and complete her education. No a good set-up. They officially divorced two years ago.

      Yes, driving in Europe is a challenge. No parking in the cities and driving on the autobahn is downright scary. Going 100 mph and other cars whizzing right by you!

      Yes, we really enjoyed Konstanz and Zurich. I’m also so grateful for the Reformation and the faithful men and women who defied Rome at great risk. Many evangelical pastors never even refer to the Reformation and the 5 Solas.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. RE: Tough living situation

        It’s tough watching our children doing some really, really stupid things. Neither one knows the Lord so life is a freefall like for all of the lost. Most grievous is that our AF son cut off all contact with our 15YO grandson in Germany to “spite” his ex-wife. He’s now shacking up with a single mom and her son, but won’t give his own son a second of his time.

        I remember being in the passing lane on the autobahn doing 90 mph and seeing a car in my rear view mirror that was far, far behind me and I assumed I had plenty of time to move over to the right lane. He was on my bumper in four seconds!!!

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      2. I am so sorry to hear about your grandson 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏 I am NOT surprised about the autobahn! My mom is visiting and I told her how y’all are European car renters and my mom (aka Mama Rose if I would have had kids she would have been Rosema(w)) and she said, “see, plenty of people do it!” My mom rides the side of the road, badly. Disney has nothing on Mama Rose, “please keep your hands and arms inside the ride at all times” is not a suggestion but a MUST if you don’t want to lose your arm to a mailbox, tree or another car! How did it go with your sister? Praying for your work day!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks, Mandy. We are heartbroken by our son’s actions. It’s like something out of the Twilight Zone.

        Funny about your Mom! There’s definitely no driving on the side of the road on the autobahn.

        I’m making some progress with my sister, thanks, but it’s very hard to reason with a person with dementia. She was a hardhead prior and now it’s worse. I set Jun 1st as the deadline/goal she need to move while she is CONVINCED she needs two years to prepare. Her house is packed with junk and smells like cat poop. She wants to ship everything to Florida and I told her 90% of it is going into a roll-off.

        Thank you for your prayers!!! Here goes another three days! Hope you and Nathan and your Mom have a nice weekend!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating post Tom! Wow, to actually be the the locations where the reformers lived, preached and died! In contrast, the behavior of church “leaders” in our day is reprehensible!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cathy! Sadly, many/most evangelical megachurch pastors today would disavow the “divisiveness” of the Reformers. The new pastor of the megachurch we attended didn’t mention the Reformers or the 5 Solas in the last 4 years we were there.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m always amazed at the differences in history between North America and Europe and the Middle East. The fact that so many of these historical buildings are still around is also amazing. Different times and different circumstances that we should all learn from. Thank you for sharing Tom!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bruce! Yup, the oldest building here in Pittsford NY was erected in 1789. That would be a “modern” building in Germany. When we took a side jaunt to Trier, Germany on one of our trips I was amazed to see all of the Roman ruins including Constantine’s palace.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hus is someone I want to read up more. That is neat you got to visit there. To see so many places associated with Hus. He is quite a man though I think most Evangelicals might not be fully comfortable with him if he’s around today. Thanks for this throwback post

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: most Evangelicals might not be fully comfortable with Hus if were around today.

      I agree. Hus was 100 years before Luther and Zwingli and still had many attachments to the RCC, which is why I would categorize him as a pre-Reformer. But Luther’s successors had to chip away at his theology because he also held on to vestiges of Romanism.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Have you heard of Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457)? He was a thorn in the side of the Papacy and was regarded highly by Luther. He proved the Donation of Constantine to be a forgery!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, SB! Yes, I have read a little bit about Lorenzo Valla in connection with his exposing the Donation of Constantine. I would like to read more about Valla.


  6. What an wonderful opportunity you had Tom. Thank you for sharing the photos. As a history buff
    I would have relished the moment.
    Francis apologising ha?, I thought popes were infallible.
    Thank you Tom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Crissy! I really enjoyed that side trip! Yeah, a pope apologizing for a formal RC church council might seem to present a problem, but it just gets glossed over.

      Liked by 1 person

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