I was recently reading about the debate between Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli at Marburg Colloquy that took place 1-4 October 1529. As I was reading along, I realized how earlier events led to the quick advance of continental Protestantism. 1525 seems to have been a pivotal year. Note the following events that occurred in 1525:
- The first known adult rebaptism occurred in Zurich (21 Jan 1525)
- Swabian peasants publish their Lutheran influenced the 12 Articles of Memmingan (Feb 1525)
- Adult rebaptism became a crime punishable by death in Zurich (7 March 1525)
- The Catholic Mass abolished in Zurich (14 April 1925)
- Peasant Revolt squashed by princes at instigation of Luther; 5,000 killed including Luther's theological rival Thomas Muntzer (15 May 1525)
- Martin Luther marries former Cistercian nun Katherina von Bora (13 June 1525)
- Scholars estimate that 70,000 to 100,000 German "radical Lutheran" peasants had been killed the end of 1525.
- Andreas Karlstadt lost his influence in 1525.
- Tyndale finished his translation of the New Testament in 1525.
Philip of Hesse recognized that Protestantism needed military unity in order to survive. Military unity required theological unity and thus the symbolic union of Martin Luther's theology with that of Ulrich Zwingli. So Philip arranged the Marburg Colloquy in 1529. It ended in complete failure with Luther's invigorated belief that Zwingli was a "devil" and a "fanatic." This failure meant that magisterial Protestantism would remain divided for ever.
By 1529, magisterial Protestantism became officially a "house divided" and thus doomed to fail. The Catholic Church only had to wait for demise of "sola scriptura experiment". Five hundred years later, the results are obvious. Protestants are further divided (observe how may different "brands" of Lutheran and Reformed Churches exist!), and ironically they spinning toward the Anabaptist tradition that they so diligently repudiated.
If 1525 was the year of Protestant success, then 1529 was the year of Protestant failure.