Saturday, February 11, 2017


Reformation 500 WEEK 7: Zwingli

Before we see what happened to Martin Luther after his famous “here I stand” speech at the Diet of Worms in 1521, it is important to understand that his efforts to reform the catholic church were not isolated.
     Ulrich Zwingli was born in a small Swiss village in January 1484, less than two months after Luther. “Later, Zwingli would declare that, even before having heard of Luther’s teachings, he had come to similar conclusions through his study of the Bible. Thus, Zwingli’s reformation was a not a direct result of Luther’s; rather, it was a parallel movement that soon established links with its counterpart in Germany” (Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, p.60).
     Zwingli’s experience differed greatly from that of Luther. “Luther descended from the peasantry…while Zwingli was the son of a magistrate” (Schaff, 8:34). Zwingli “never lived as a monk in a convent. He did not have Luther’s deep consciousness of sin, and he knew nothing of Luther’s fearful spiritual struggle to gain salvation. Luther emerged out of the darkness of medievalism and had been educated in scholastic theology… Zwingli received his education under the influence of the Renaissance” (Kuiper, Church in History, 187-188).
     When Erasmus (the great renaissance humanist) published his Greek NT in 1516, “Zwingli made a copy of it which he carried with him in order to memorize as much of it as possible” (Gonzalez, 57).
     “Zwingli was made a priest of an abbey to which many went on pilgrimage. He soon drew attention to himself by preaching against the notion that exercises such as pilgrimages could avail for salvation, and declaring that he found nothing in the NT in support of such practices. His fame grew to the point that in 1518 he was transferred to Zurich” (ibid, 59). He also became a chaplain in the army of Zurich.
     “In 1518 Zwingli attacked indulgences [on one occasion he convinced the government to expel from Zurich a seller of indulgences]. The stand Luther took at the Leipzig debate and his burning of the papal bull inspired Zwingli to make a systematic attack on the Roman Church. Images were removed from the church buildings in Zurich. The mass abolished. Altars, relics, and processions were discarded” (Kuiper, 188). Zwingli’s enemies spread the word that his teachings were the same as those of the German heretic Martin Luther.
     “Zurich was under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the bishop of Constance, who expressed concern over what was taking place in Zurich. In 1522, when Zwingli preached against the laws of fasting and abstinence, and some of his parishioners gathered to eat sausages during Lent,” the bishop of Constance “accused the preacher before the Council of Government.” The Council called “for a debate between Zwingli and a representative of the bishop.” No one could refute Zwingli’s Scriptural defense; therefore, “he was free to continue his preaching. This decision marked Zurich’s final break with the bishopric of Constance, and therefore with Rome” (Gonzalez, 60-61).

                “One German Lutheran realized that, if Luther and Zwingli united their movements, their chances for survival would increase. So he asked them to meet in the German city of Marburg” (Church History Made Easy, 110). 

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation500 Ulrich Zwingli

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 7

Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment