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).
Question 20: Are all men, then, saved by Christ as they have perished in Adam?
No,only those who by true faith are engrafted into Him and receive all His benefits.
Although Adam represented and acted on behalf of all mankind, Christ represented
and acted on behalf of those who believe in Him and thereby receive the salvation
He earned for them. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who
does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John
Question 21: What is true faith?
True faith is not only a sure knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word, but also a hearty trust, which the Holy Spirit works in me by the Gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation are freely
given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.
Faith by definition is to rely upon the word of another. When a jury reaches a
verdict, they are relying upon the testimony of faithful witnesses. Faith in God is to
rely upon God’s Word (the Bible). True (saving) faith is to be convinced by the Holy
Spirit that God’s Word is truth (John 17:17; 10:35; 2 Tim. 3:16); and, especially, to
trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation (John 5:24). Since He merited
(earned) salvation for me, I embrace Him with a believing heart and seek nothing
more besides Him.
Question 22: What, then, is necessary for a Christian to believe?
All that is promised us in the Gospel, which the articles of our Catholic, undoubted Christian
faith teach us in summary.
In order to truly believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and not be deceived by
those who preach “another Jesus” (2 Cor 11:4), we need to believe specifically what
the Bible says about who Jesus is and what He has done to save His people from
their sins. These key doctrines of the gospel are summarized in the articles
[statements] of Apostles’ Creed (not written by the apostles but based on their
teaching in the New Testament). This Creed is called catholic, meaning universal,
because it contains the universal beliefs of all Christians. They are undoubted (not
doubted) by true believers.
Question 23: What are these articles?
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Begotten Son, our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius
Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
The next 35 Questions and Answers (24-58) explain the biblical basis of these