Zwingli: The Smartest Guy in the Room

zwingli_marignanoIt is a great work to believe that Christ, nailed to the cross, is the Son of God. That this is the work of God, Christ Himself testified, Jn. 6:29: “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” As many, then, as trust in Christ are built upon a rock, which no blasts of winds can shake, no inundating floods wash away. And as many as are built upon this are the church of Christ, for He Himself said “my.” But His church cannot be impure and wrinkled. Therefore it follows that those who trust in Christ are without spot and without wrinkle, for they summon up all their zeal to the end that they may not fall back into sin, in which beforetime they were dead, Rom. 6:2. But they who do not this utter noble thunderings with their lips, but by their deeds betray Christ, with the result that through them the name of God is in bad repute.

This is the church that cannot err—an attribute which the pontiffs arrogate to themselves with as much falseness as impudence. For this church rests upon the word of God alone, which is so firm and immovable that heaven and earth must pass away sooner than one jot of it [Mt. 5:18]. On the contrary, the church of the pontiffs rests upon its own word. They run, indeed, as if they had been sent by the Lord, but they speak visions, that is, things pleasing to their own heart [Jer. 23:16]. Hence they spread nothing but darkness before poor wretches’ eyes.

Where Have all the Christians Gone?

What has happened in America that the only voices we hear any more are heretics like Rob Bell and Jerry Falwell Jr?  Why do we find ourselves bombarded by the notions of the likes of Eric Metaxas and Franklin Graham and Paula White and Mike Huckabee?  Why is it that Rachel Held Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber have any sort of public platform?

I know why these and others like them are popular: the world loves the darkness.  “Though the light has come into the world people have preferred darkness to the light because their deeds were evil.” (Jn. 3:19).

Meanwhile, the voices of authentically Christian thinkers are either silenced or silent.

Why?  Where have all the Christians gone?  Are they cowering in fear?  Are they clueless concerning how much our society needs to hear from them?  Where have all the Christians gone, only to be replaced by people on the fringes who represent neither historic Christianity nor Christ himself?

Where have all the Christians gone?

Near the Anniversary of Zwingli’s Death… His Major Writings

Over at Logos

It’s surprising that Huldrych Zwingli isn’t better known. Zwingli, a contemporary of Martin Luther’s, was an important figure in the Swiss Reformation.

No kidding!  It is surprising that he isn’t better known.  He should be as well known as Luther and Calvin (and one of my life-goals is to make sure he is).

So, go right now and order this 7 volume set.  You won’t regret it.  And you will even notice that one of the volumes is by someone you know.  That’s right.  Go now and if you don’t want it for yourself get it for your Pastor.  Don’t allow him to wallow in ignorance one more day.

Where Did People Get the Idea That Zwingli Died Fighting?

Certainly not from first hand evidence or witnesses on the scene, all of whom assert that Zwingli died never having drawn a weapon.  So where did the idea that he was hacking away at Zurich’s enemies and died fighting come from?  From Luther, of course, whose hatred of Zwingli so colored his vision that he felt secure in making up things to suit his view-

“Zwingli drew his sword. Therefore he has received the reward that Christ spoke of, ‘All who take the sword will perish by the sword’ [Matt. 26:52]. If God has saved him, he has done so above and beyond the rule.”

No, he didn’t.  But Luther had a text in hand (Mt 26) and he used it to his advantage.  Zwingli was dead so he must have drawn his sword, runs Luther’s reasoning.

And

“The end of all heresy is the sword. We see this in the case of the pope, Münzer, Zwingli, the Arians, etc. They all started out [with a certain show of piety], but in the end they were driven to the sword. They were at first not wanting in the will [to carry out their intentions] but they didn’t have the opportunity. Satan, as Paul said, can’t deny himself. He must show himself to be a liar and murderer. Moreover, I think that Cain’s death also caused a great outcry. They said, ‘Behold, Lamech has killed our father,’ etc.”

And

They say that Zwingli recently died thus; if his error had prevailed, we would have perished, and our church with us. It was a judgment of God. That was always a proud people. The others, the papists, will probably also be dealt with by our Lord God.

Luther was so filled with contempt for Zwingli (and the Zurichers) that he was willing to invent the story of Zwingli dying as a combatant. The historical facts indicate otherwise (as anyone familiar with them knows).

Zwingli certainly wore a helmet and he had a sword strapped to his side (as all Swiss did on the field of battle).  But his was a ceremonial sword.  He was a chaplain ministering to the troops, not a combatant engaged in killing.  He despised war and had since 1515 when he saw it first hand at the Battle of Marignano.  Don’t accept Luther’s badly colored view.  His eyes were blinded by the blackness of contempt.

The Passage Read On the Anniversary of Zwingli’s Massacre

Each year in Zurich on 11 October this text is read in his honor and memory:

Schau herab vom Himmel und sieh herab von der Wohnung deiner Heiligkeit und deiner Herrlichkeit! Wo sind dein Eifer und deine Kraft? Das Aufwallen deiner Gefühle und dein Erbarmen – mir hast du es nicht gezeigt.  Du bist doch unser Vater! Abraham hat nichts von uns gewusst, und Israel kennt uns nicht. Du, HERR, bist unser Vater, Unser-Erlöser-seit-uralten-Zeiten ist dein Name.

Warum, HERR, lässt du uns umherirren, fern von deinen Wegen, verhärtest unser Herz, so dass wir dich nicht fürchten? Kehre zurück um deiner Diener, um der Stämme deines Erbbesitzes willen.  Für eine kurze Zeit haben sie dein heiliges Volk enteignet, dein Heiligtum haben unsere Feinde zertreten.  Wir sind wie die geworden, über die du nie geherrscht hast, über denen dein Name nicht ausgerufen wurde. Hättest du doch schon den Himmel zerrissen, wärst schon herabgestiegen, so dass die Berge vor dir erbebt wären,  (Isa 63:15-19 ZUR)

On the Day That Zwingli Died

So here it is, once more- Bullinger’s account:

On the battlefield, not far from the line of attack, Mr. Ulrich Zwingli lay under the dead and wounded. While men were looting . . . he was still alive, lying on his back, with his hands together as if he was praying, and his eyes looking upwards to heaven. So some approached who did not know him and asked him, since he was so weak and close to death (for he had fallen in combat and was stricken with a mortal wound), whether a priest should be fetched to hear his confession. Thereat Zwingli shook his head, said nothing and looked up to heaven. Later they told him that if he was no longer able to speak or confess he should yet have the mother of God in his heart and call on the beloved saints to plead to God for grace on his behalf. Again Zwingli shook his head and continued gazing straight up to heaven. At this the Catholics grew impatient, cursed him and said that he was one of the obstinate cantankerous heretics and should get what he deserved. Then Captain Fuckinger of Unterwalden appeared and in exasperation drew his sword and gave Zwingli a thrust from which he at once died. So the renowned Mr. Ulrich Zwingli, true minister and servant of the churches of Zurich, was found wounded on the battlefield along with his flock (with whom he remained until his death). There, because of his confession of the true faith in Christ, our only savior, the mediator and advocate of all believers, he was killed by a captain who was a pensioner, one of those against whom he had always preached so eloquently. . . .

The crowd then [Oct. 12] spread it abroad throughout the camp that anyone who wanted to denounce Zwingli as a heretic and betrayer of a pious confederation should come onto the battlefield. There, with great contempt, they set up a court of injustice on Zwingli which decided that his body should be quartered and the portions burned. All this was carried into effect by the executioner from Lucerne with abundance of abuse; among other things he said that although some had asserted that Zwingli was a sick man he had in fact never seen a more healthy-looking body.

They threw into the fire the entrails of some pigs that had been slaughtered the previous night and then they turned over the embers so that the pigs’ offal was mixed with Zwingli’s ashes. This was done close to the high road to Scheuren.

Verdicts on Zwingli from scholars and ignorant alike were varied. All those who knew him were constant in their praises. Even so there were still more who were critical either because they really did not know him or, if they had known him a little, were determined to show their resentment and spoke ill of him. (Janz, A Reformation reader : Primary texts with introductions.)