On the Clarity and Certainty of the Word of God
‘The preached Word of God is the foundation upon which everything should be built‘ wrote Huldrych Zwingli in a booklet he published on the 6th of September, 1522. Von Klarheit und Gewissheit des Wortes Gottes is one of Zwingli’s early works and yet its theological outlook is mature and its position Reformed in the best and most historical sense of that word.
In fact, however, the booklet began its life as a sermon which was joyfully received and so Zwingli was urged to publish an expanded version of it, which he did.
In it, Zwingli assures his readers that the Word of God is not dependent on the Magisterium or tradition of the Church but on the guidance of the Holy Spirit as the authorized and legitimately appointed preacher delivers it. The Holy Spirit breathes life into the written word and it becomes God’s word to us. ‘The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’. Without the Spirit, understanding is impossible and heresy the outcome.
In coming years Zwingli would be forced to emphasize the fact that the Spirit interprets Scripture and doesn’t speak apart from it. This because of the maniacal spiritualists and Re-Baptizers who began asserting that since they had the Spirit, they could toss the Scriptures into the rubbish bin (much the same way that emergents and Pentecostals do today).