Today With Zwingli: The First Zurich Disputation

The opening statement by the representative of the government of Zurich reads

zurich“Very learned, venerable, noble, steadfast, honourable, wise, ecclesiastical lords and friends: In my lords’ city of Zurich and in its territories there has risen for some time discord and strife on account of the sermons and doctrine given to the people from the pulpit by our preacher here in Zurich, Master Ulrich Zwingli. Wherefore he has been reproached and spoken against by some as a false guide, by others as a heretic. So it has come about that not alone in our city of Zurich but in the country under the authority of my lords such discord among the priests, also among the laity, increases, and daily come complaints to my lords about it, until it seems that there is no end to such angry words and quarrelling.

On this account Master Ulrich Zwingli has offered often from the public pulpit to give before everybody the rationale and ground of his preaching and doctrine delivered here in Zurich in an open disputation before numerous clergy and laity. The honourable Council has granted this request of Master Ulrich with a view to stop the great unrest and disputing, has allowed him to hold a public disputation in the German language before the Great Council of Zurich, as the Two Hundred are called, to which the honourable wise Council has invited all the people’s priests and curates of the canton; also solicited the venerable lord and prince, etc., Bishop of Constance; on which his Grace has kindly sent the deputation here present, for which the honourable Council of Zurich expresses especial great thanks.

Therefore, if anyone now present has any displeasure or doubts over the preaching and doctrines of Master Ulrich here has given from the pulpit, or knows to speak about the matter, as that such preaching and doctrine were and must be not correct but seditious or heretical, let him here before my lords convict the oft-mentioned Master Ulrich of untruthfulness, and in this presence here confute his error by Holy Scripture freely, boldly, and without fear of punishment, so that my lords may be spared hereafter daily complaints, whence originate discord and disunity. For my lords are tired of such complaints, which tend to increase constantly from the clergy and laity alike.”

Over 600 Clerics and interested citizens were in attendance and at the end of it all the Zwinglian Reformation of Christianity in the City and Canton were established as the course of action which would be taken.

Worship was reformed and theology – as the basis of right worship and conduct – would no longer be based on tradition, but upon Scripture alone. And it all commenced on the 29th of January, 1523.