“Ist Gott im Herzen des Menschen, so werden göttliche Werke daraus kommen, wie die Hitze aus dem Ofen, wenn Feuer darin ist. Wie die Redner sagen: Wo einem ein Handel ein herzliches Anliegen ist, so wird tapfer davon geredet; wo nicht, da ist alles saft-und kraftlos.” – Huldrych Zwingli (Sermon on Jeremiah, 17).
Is it not a disgraceful thing to sleep with a woman and next morning hold mass? Answer: Can one not also do that if he has stayed with a harlot? If we had not conscience otherwise than that we so far forgetting God and ourselves should be inclined to such wickedness… – H. Zwingli
I am now come to speak of adultery, which is a sin whereby the husband goeth to another woman, or the wife turneth aside after another man, to whom they make common the use of their bodies, which are not their own bodies now, but their mates in wedlock. Some there are that flatter themselves, and are of opinion, that they are not culpable of adultery, if they have the company of any unbetrothed maiden, or one that is unmarried; or if a woman play the harlot with an unwedded man: they will have it (in God’s name) to be fornication, and not adultery. But the scripture teacheth the contrary. Thou goest to another woman, thou art an adulterer: thou breakest thy faith, thou art forsworn: thy body is not thine, but thy wife’s; when therefore thou bestowest thy body on another, thou committest adultery. If thou, being wedded, dost lie with a married wife, thou doublest the sin of thine adultery. – H. Bullinger
… all know that no seed is so fertile in propagating mankind as the sacerdotal: for to such a degree has the untamed lust of almost all monks and popish priests burst forth, that he is justly deemed chastest who is satisfied with a harlot in his house. — J. Calvin
Never has a heathen, never a Turk, never a pope, never an emperor, and never any human being on earth made or enforced a law that anyone should be put to death because of marriage. It is a new, unheard-of thing, begun by you new bishops, who are the greatest endowment robbers, harlot keepers, and whore hunters on earth in your chapters. Nor do you do it for the sake of chastity, but all because others will not practice harlotry and unchastity, as you do, for you let them go unpunished. No one can believe that you conscientiously intend chastity with this penalty, since there are no greater enemies of chastity anywhere than you are, for you pursue it in your own bodies with all lewdness most shamefully, without letup. – M. Luther
And here it is.
The rekenynge and declaracion of the fayth and belefe of Huldrike Zwyngly, Byshoppe of Ziiryk the chefe town of Helvitia, sent to Charles. v. that nowe is emproure of Rome : holdynge a parlement or counsayll at Ausbrough with the chefe Lordes and lerned men of Germanye, the yere of our Lorde M.D.xxx. jn the moneth of July. …
Zwingli’s brother was with him in Zurich when he died of the plague. Zwingli, on the 25th of November, 1520, wrote the following to Myconius:
“Zwingli to Myconius. Greeting. I am doubtful whether the evils which befall me (if they are evils), ought to be communicated to you, who are a man of most sympathetic disposition. For I fear that if I do not warn you beforehand you will fall into unrestrained grief, so regardful are you of me. And yet I beseech that you will endure my misfortunes with a calm mind, even as I myself endure them. Because now I endure with equanimity what formerly threw me into spasms of grief and mourning more than feminine, when I was suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelmed with sorrow.
Still I recovered myself, so that now once more I stand firm. Thanks be to God! And so do you take it calmly when I tell you of the death of my brother Andrew, a youth of great promise and excellent parts, whom the plague slew on St. Elizabeth day [November 19], envious (I think) of our blood and renown. Had he lived a year longer he would have come to you [at Lucern] to be instructed by you and your son in Greek. But so far am I from remonstrating with God that I am ready to offer myself. Enough of this.
“I am awaiting your letter and those manifold songs recommended by Zimmerman, for which our people here are looking daily.
“Farewell, and love me in my bereavement as you are accustomed to do. Except for my loss the plague grows no worse, for I do not know that within a month or so more than four or five have died. I send my good wishes for your wife and children, Zimmerman, the Provisor, and all.
“ZURICH, November 25, 1520.
“P. S. I am not at home, driven out rather by the persuasions of my friends, than by my own fears of death, and I shall soon return. So you will not wonder that this letter is not sealed in my usual fashion. Francis Zinck greets you.”
After Andrew died, Zwingli went to Einsiedeln for a visit with his old friends.
Let us confess frequently to the Lord, let us begin a new life frequently, and if there is anything not clear let us go frequently to a wise scholar who looks not at the pocket-book but at the conscience! – H.Z.
Gratias agimus tibi, domine, pro universis donis et beneficiis tuis, qui vivis ac regnas, deus, per omnia sęcula sęculorum. Amen! — Huldrych Zwingli
A remarkable instance of the readiness of at least one Roman Catholic prelate to protect Zwingli against printed attacks is given in a letter from Basel, dated November 21, 1519, from which it appears that a certain monk had preached against Zwingli, as he had a perfect right to do, and had gone to Basel to have his polemical sermons printed. But Zwingli, through another friend, asked his friend, Cardinal Schinner, who was in Basel, to have an embargo put upon the volume, and the Cardinal so managed things that the monk could not secure a printer in Basel! Another friend of Zwingli’s (Capito), living in Strassburg, undertook to exclude the same monk from the presses of that city. But this was a dangerous game for the friends of progress to play.*
*Samuel Macauley Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531), Heroes of the Reformation (New York; London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons; Knickerbocker Press, 1901), 129.
Or, the full title- “A short Christian introduction which the honourable Council of the city of Zurich has sent to the pastors and preachers living in its cities, lands, and wherever its authority extends, so that they may in unison henceforth announce and preach the true Gospel to their dependents.”
… was prepared by Zwingli in fourteen days, so it was a hasty work as usual, and read before the Council on November 9, and printed November 17, 1523.
Preceding it is the mandate of the Zurich authorities which commends the “Introduction” on the ground of its scriptural character, and repeats the requests to be corrected out of the Scriptures, if they have in any respect not advocated correct opinions. The treatise is throughout doctrinal, but far from abstruse. It begins with a brief handling of sin, then of the law. At greater length it treats of the Gospel, as God’s way of deliverance from the law; next upon the deliverance itself, the “removal of the law.” Next, but more briefly, upon images. Zwingli says, in concluding the section:
“It is clear that the images and other representations which we have in the houses of worship have caused the risk of idolatry. Therefore they should not be allowed to remain there, nor in your chambers, nor in the market-place, nor anywhere else where one does them honour. Chiefly they are not to be tolerated in the churches, for all that is in them should be worthy of our respect. If anyone desires to put historical representations on the outside of the churches, that may be allowed, so long as they do not incite to their worship. But when one begins to bow before these images and to worship them, then they are not to be tolerated anywhere in the wide world; for that is the beginning of idolatry, nay, is idolatry itself.”1
1Samuel Macauley Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (Heroes of the Reformation; New York; London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons; Knickerbocker Press, 1901), 207–208.
There have come forward in our day those who have said that a symbolical meaning is to be found in the word “This.” I commend their faith, if only it is not counterfeit. For God seeth the heart, we poor wretches judge from the face [1 Sam. 16:7]. I greatly commend, therefore, not the faith which makes them venture thoughtlessly to treat these words, but that through which they see that it is untenable for us to understand bodily flesh here. I will not, however, speak now of the Charybdis the fear of which drove them upon this Scylla, for it has no bearing upon this matter.*
Those who have come forward to whom Zwingli refers are, among others, Matt Alber. On 16 November of 1524 Zwingli addressed him thusly:
Gratia et pax a domino! Aspersit nos rumor de certamine, quod tibi futurum est cum quodam fratre, ut aiunt, ingenue etiam Christo favente, qui ut facie mihi notus est, ita nomine ignotus, contra tu nomine nobis et euangelii gloria notissimus es, facie ignotus. Certamen autem Michael noster audivit περὶ τῆς εὐχαριστίας esse indictum, in qua vereor multos vehementer errare, nisi ego magis quam omnes errem. Ac nisi me fallit omnis scripturae tum proprietas, tum sensus, imo pietas ipsa, longe hactenus a scopo iecimus. Quisquis autem peccati huius tandem sit autor, nunc non est ut dicam per epistolam, quam esse brevem oportet.
And then he rips into Carlstadt. Good times, good times.
*H. Zwingli, The Latin works of Huldreich Zwingli, (Vol. 3, p. 221).
Once when he was a young man he [Martin Luther] happened upon a Bible. In it he read by chance the story about Samuel’s mother in the Books of the Kings. The book pleased him immensely, and he thought that he would be happy if he could ever possess such a book. Shortly thereafter he bought a postil; it also pleased him greatly, for it contained more Gospels than it was customary to preach on in the course of a year.
When he became a monk he gave up all his books. Shortly before this he had bought a copy of the Corpus iuris and I do not know what else. He returned these to the bookseller. Besides Plautus and Vergil he took nothing with him into the monastery. There the monks gave him a Bible bound in red leather. He made himself so familiar with it that he knew what was on every page, and when some passage was mentioned he knew at once just where it was to be found.
“If I had kept at it,” he said, “I would have become exceedingly good at locating things in the Bible. At that time no other study pleased me so much as sacred literature. With great loathing I read physics, and my heart was aglow when the time came to return to the Bible. I made use of the glossa ordinaria. I despised Lyra, although I recognized later on that he had a contribution to make to history. I read the Bible diligently. Sometimes one important statement occupied all my thoughts for a whole day. Such statements appeared especially in the weightier prophets, and (although I could not grasp their meaning) they have stuck in my memory to this day. Such is the assertion in Ezekiel, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked,’ etc. [Ezek. 33:11].” [Luther’s Table Talk].
And that, good reader, is how a theologian is made. If your theology is empty and soulless (or Emergent and Seeker Sensitive) or your Pastor’s preaching more fluff than substance (or cute stories than the development of exegetical themes), the reason lies in unfamiliarity from and disinterest in the Bible.
Luther was the theologian he was (and the same can be said of Calvin and Zwingli, Oecolampadius and Melancthon, Bullinger and Bucer) because he (and they too) was (were) biblical scholar(s) in the truest sense of the phrase.
- Zwingli is the most important because he was the smartest and best thinker.
- Calvin is the second most important because he was good but not as good as Zwingli.
- Hus is the third most important because he’s the only East European.
- Wycliffe is the fourth most important because he was ok, but not really great.
- Luther is the fifth most important because he didn’t really reform anything that was papist. He didn’t. Really. The mass was still the mass and confession was still confession and Mary-olotry was still Mary-olotry and the only thing he changed was the allegiance of Germany away from Rome. He was a German Henry VIII. That’s all.
But he’s cool so tomorrow I’ll wish him a happy birthday anyway. Even though he’s bland as Barth but not as wicked (because he never went to the mountains with his secretary [and Barth’s followers HATE it when you remind them of that. They HATE it and even write you emails telling you not to do it because they’re concerned for your well being…]).
We struggle and waver in the matter of Providence. When It presents Itself before our eyes so plainly that we are forced even against our will to see It, regard It, and execute Its commands, we yet bid ourselves to hope for results according to our own desires.
This recklessness sometimes goes so far that it promises us the treasures of the Indies even in spite of the Deity. But however we clamor and whatever we devise, the plans of God remain unchanged. Tyrants scheme, and restless peasants, far less skillful and happy in plotting than they, also scheme, the one to strangle the sprouting germ of the Gospel, that the boundless extortions with which they keep up every lewdness and luxury may not be brought to light, nor the distinction between right and wrong be seen, lest the wiles of their crooked lives and words be discovered, and they be no longer able to cover up their violence with the name of righteousness, if ever the people understand what force and right are; the others to see how under pretense of championing the Gospel they can aim at unrestrained wantonness rather than at the liberty of a free man.
Does not greed urge them on as much as it did Balak and Balaam? But what purpose will finally succeed? Certainly not Balak’s, however much he rages and fears for his kingdom, for the camp of Israel will be safe under the protection of the Lord; nor the purpose of Balaam boiling with greed, for the Gospel of Christ seeketh not wantonness nor wrong. But the purpose of the Lord will be victorious, in accordance with which He has determined to cleanse His Church of the worst rubbish, not to introduce it therein.*
*The Latin Works of Huldreich Zwingli, (Vol. 2, p. 231).
They are so ignorant as to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in their essence, substance, divinity, power, that they do not know what you mean when you speak of one and understand all three; and their lack of knowledge is accompanied by such recklessness that what they are extremely ignorant of they all the more violently drag under suspicion.
Or they are so willingly and knowingly impious that they assail with the depravity of a perverted heart what they see is done rightly and piously, and since they despair of accomplishing anything in open warfare, they make an underground attack, alleging a fear that we are too much inclined sometimes towards the Father, sometimes towards the Son. To all such I say, κλαίειν, “fare ill.”
I declare, quite differently from what our friends hold, that a magistrate cannot even be just and righteous unless he be a Christian. Take away from the magistrate, who is above the fear of man, the fear of God, and you make him a tyrant.
Infuse into the tyrant the fear of God, and of his own accord he will do more freely and faithfully what the law orders than any terror could have caused him to; and out of a tyrant you will make a father on the pattern of Him whom as a result of faith he begins to fear and to serve, namely, God. — Huldrych Zwingli
The 8th of November, 1528, was an interesting day in Zwingli’s life. Two letters from two colleagues were written on that day. The first, by his old friend Oecolampadius; and the second, by his new friend Bullinger. Oecolampadius’ letter discusses various matters and then gets to the meat in a discussion of the descent of Christ into hell. Bullinger’s is more a tweet than a letter, but it also mentions the descent of Christ into hell.
Gratia et pax a Christo. Ut monebas, mi Huldrice, Capitoni insinuavi fideliter de civitate nostra impetranda. Is in hęc verba scripsit: “Nescio, quid ad tuas respondeam. Non sumus ignavi, sed oportet ut omnia per occasionem. Queruntur varii varia. Bellua multiceps est status reipublicae popularis. Horrent plerique incertissimas actiones amicorum nostrorum. Sunt, qui Constantiam ob Christi professionem communem sibi de futuris sociis pollicentur. Sed nova omnia gnaris suspecta habentur. Audi nunc alia. Venere huc Metenses quidam; ii nunciant, praeclaram famam apud suos esse de foedere civitatum sanciendo; duodecimus Novembris, quo die fędus meditatum sancietur; nam articulos aiunt conscriptos esse et ferme comprobatos. Verum de ea re nobiscum summum est silentium; tametsi non dubitemus, sic esse conventum inter primores rerumpublicarum Germanię huius nostrę. Reliqua coniice et pronuncia, quid qua occasione interea.” Hęc Capito, in sinum tuum effundi voluit.
Ipse non omnibus nunciis fidit. Cęterum nos hic memores erimus, quid per Christophorum commiseris. Utinam audire nos dignentur nostri. Bernensem tumultum speramus in magnam gloriam Christi cessuram, tametsi a traditoribus illi ecclesię metuamus, ne optimates in periculum, unde vix evadant, introducantur. Versor nunc in “Daniele”. Supputationem LXX hebdomadarum iuxta Eusebii mentem tractabo. Tu si certiorem habes, oro communices; nam omnes alię tam Hebraeorum quam ecclesiasticorum minus quadrant, neque satisfaciunt, quae Bucerus in Mathęum et Capito in Oseam. Certa enim hoc loco expectantur.
Pręterea non te latet, quomodo Benedictus Erasmo nostro in Schaffhusen in materia descensus Christi ad inferos adversetur. Ipse sic definio mecum: animam quidem Christi a corpore solutam, divinam, commigrasse ad patres, quocunque tandem loco illum quieti cum Abraham expectarint, et illos sui revelatione ad maiora introduxisse gaudia, ut ipse primogenitus illis aperuerit paradisum. Scio quidem spiritus locis non circumscribi; definiuntur tamen alicubi esse. Unde et patres mea sententia non impie tradiderunt, Christum ad illos descendisse liberatorem. Si tibi hęc sententia non improbatur, bene; gratię deo, qui ita unamines idem ubique sentire facit. Sin minus, ostende paucis, quid tu sentias, ut, si questio illa vulgo ventilari ceperit curiosius, non dissentias. Facile enim cedo meliora afferentibus.
Basileę 8. Novembris 1528. Oecolampadius.
Huldrico Zwinglio, suo charissimo fratri.
And then Bullinger’s ‘tweet’
Gratia et pax a domino. Rogo te plurimum, Zuingli mi, ut paucis mihi mentem tuam adaperias atque edoceas, quid rei sit, quod Christum ad inferna descendisse confitemur. Sunt enim ex doctis hodie non pauci, qui mira hic comminiscuntur, interim ut nihilo minus ipsi sese torqueant et lectores avidos a se dimittant.
Heilrijch Bullingerus tuus.
Hulderycho Zuinglio, fratri in domino charissimo.
No response has been found- but Bullinger went on to later include a discussion of the ‘descent’ in his ‘Decades’ – in the Sermon on the Apostle’s Creed (First Decade, Sermon 7). May we find there something of Zwingli’s thought? Who knows. But perhaps.
Das hat man nun davon. Im Bemühen darum, die Geschichte der Reformation etwas lebendig zu machen, habe ich mich in einem Podiumsgespräch (zu?) weit vorgewagt. Auf die Frage, ob Zwingli nicht auch Fundamentalist gewesen sei, habe ich geantwortet, in dem Sinne, als er sich allein auf die Bibel als Fundament beziehen wollte, ja. Aber das sei nach heutigem Verständnis auch naiv, denn man könne, wie man heute wisse, mit der Bibel ja wirklich alles begründen. Meine Aussage über Zwinglis «Naivität» war also eingeschränkt zu verstehen. Aber natürlich trotzdem irgendwie vermessen, dem Zürcher Reformator in irgendeiner Weise «Naivität» vorzuwerfen, auch wenn wir Reformierten ja keine Heiligen kennen, und gerade Zwingli ja darum bat, ihn aufgrund der Heiligen Schrift eines Besseren zu belehren.
Zwingli hatte wohl unbestritten ein sehr optimistisches Verhältnis zur Bibel. In humanistischer Begeisterung lernte er Altgriechisch, um den vor 500 Jahren durch Erasmus herausgegeben «Urtext» des Neues Testaments zu verstehen. Mit seinem Amtsantritt als Leutpriester am Zürcher Grossmünster begann er, die Bibel öffentlich zu übersetzen und auszulegen. Mit seiner Bibelpredigt begeisterte er Menschen in Zürich und bewegte die Politik, den Stadtstaat Zürich im Sinne der Bibel umzubauen. Dabei kam es gerade nicht zu extremen Erscheinungen der Reformation wie anderswo. Selbst ein «Bildersturm», den man sich, inspiriert von der Tempelaustreibung Jesu, ziemlich heftig vorstellen kann, ging weitgehend anständig organisiert vonstatten. Zwingli mit seinen Leutpriesterkollegen und der Rat reformierten Stadt und Kirche Zürichs zwar innert kürzester Zeit, aber mit grossem politischen und geistlichem Geschick. Also ganz bestimmt nicht «naiv»! Vielmehr optimistisch und mutig: Im alleinigen Vertrauen auf Bibel und Christus verliess man die römisch-katholische Heilsanstalt. Und diese Reformation aufgrund des Wortes Gottes veränderte Kirche und Gesellschaft nachhaltig und mit weltweiter Wirkung.
On 6 November, 1524 Zwingli published Antwort an den Rat in Zürich über Johannes Ecks Schrift und betreffend den Anschlag der neun Orte in Frauenfeld. Its thesis is simple- Johannes Eck is a deceiver and what he says in his silly book about Reform is foolhardy falsehood.
Zum andren, so Egg – er habe das uß eigner bewegnus beredt oder versoldet anghebt, welchs nit allein Christen, sonder alle wysen wol und offenlich mögend erkennen – überein hatt wellen mit mir disputieren, hab ich imm christenlich erbott zuogeschriben, und one alles leichen, ableinen oder schühen geoffnet, mit was form ich sölchs mit imm an die hand nemen well, und darinn offenlich ußgetruckt, ob er unsere Eydgnoßen darby welle haben, sye mins gevallen, und den platz genennet: Zürich, da ich gelert hab, da sölle ich ouch bericht werden, ob ich unrecht gelert hab, damit die verfuerten, wo imm also wär, widrumb gebessret wurdind. Ja, so die bede stuck so offenlich beschehen sind, vormal gewert und ietz darwider gestritten, und nütz des minder für und für zuo Abentzel und Basel gewert wirdt, und ich mich mit so glychen waffen dem Eggen ze Zürich uff den plan gestellet hab, so verhoff ich, eim yeden vernüfftigen – ich geschwig gotzförchtigen – sye häll und offenbar, was Egg, oder die inn uffrüstend, für sich genommen habind.
Eck… Don’t believe him, he just makes stuff up!