“God, in his providence, foreordains and provides not only the things for the soul but also those needed for the body; hence, also, we see how He feeds the ravens and how beautifully He clothes and adorns the lilies of the field. Where the human mind is rightly imbued with the teaching of the providence of God, there it can no longer be anxious about food and clothing, much less be shamefully avaricious.” – Zwingli
Category Archives: Zwingli
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.
In 1522, on May 16th to be precise, Zwingli published his ‘anti-war’ book Ein göttlich vermanung an die ersamen, wysen, eerenvesten, eltisten Eydgnossen zü Schwytz, das sy sich vor frömden herren hütind und entladind, Huldrichi Zwinglii, einvaltigen verkünders des euangelii Christi Jhesu and in it he writes, towards the beginning while describing the source of conflict-
How does it happen that we Christians who are united by such powerful agencies have much greater quarrels than unbelievers? And how does it happen that in a Confederacy in which until now a fraternal love prevailed, for the sake of foreign lords violent quarrel has arisen? Answer: Real piety, by which is meant true worship and prayer to God, has disappeared among us, as St. Paul writes to the Romans [Rom. 1:28–31]: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.” From these words of Paul we learn that all these evils which he enumerates arise when we desert God, do not fully recognise Him, do not look up to Him, do not place our whole trust in him, but on the contrary despise Him and regard him somewhat as we would an old sleeping dog.
War comes when God is forgotten! That’s Zwingli’s stunning observation. I recommend that you get hold of the book and read it. It’s fantastic and indeed the editor of the English edition of Zwingli’s works writes in the introductory preface
… what [Zwingli] says about war is worthy of republication by our Peace Societies, and they are entirely at liberty to use this translation.*
The combatants in Israel and Gaza (and in other conflicts around the world) may think that they are doing something grand and good and great and helpful but war is never any of those things. War is atheism and those who perpetrate it are, practically speaking, atheists because war is rejection of and denial of God.
*The Latin Works and The Correspondence of Huldreich Zwingli: Together with Selections from His German Works, Volume 1 (S. M. Jackson, Ed.), p.130.
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).
Real piety, by which is meant true worship and prayer to God, has disappeared among us, as St. Paul writes to the Romans [Rom. 1:28–31]: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.”
From these words of Paul we learn that all these evils which he enumerates arise when we desert God, do not fully recognise Him, do not look up to Him, do not place our whole trust in him, but on the contrary despise Him and regard him somewhat as we would an old sleeping dog. But I shall not now consider the question whose fault it is that we have forgotten him. That matter I shall discuss at the proper time. — Huldrych Zwingli*
True then, true now. Just look at the Republican Party, the Church, and the Nation.
*NB- If anyone knows where I can get that little bronze statue of Zwingli, I’d be grateful beyond words if you would tell me.
There’s a new novel out and the subject is Zwingli as a young man.
Wildhaus im Jahre 1484, ein lebhaftes Dörfchen am Passübergang zum Rheintal. Reisende aller Art kommen hier vorbei: Pilger, Händler, Reisläufer. Für den zehnjährigen Ueli gibt es nichts Spannenderes, als mit seinem Freund Melk die sonderbaren Gäste in der Taverne zu belauschen. Eines Tages humpelt ein Bote mit einem Holzbein durch das Dorf und überreicht Vater Zwingli eine geheimnisvolle Schriftrolle. Noch weiss Ueli nicht, was das zu bedeuten hat, doch ahnt er nichts Gutes. Selbst während der Sommermonate auf der Alp geht ihm der hinkende Bote nicht aus dem Kopf. Als Ueli im Wildmannlisloch noch den Einsiedler Johannes kennenlernt, der ihn mit Rätselreden und Kräutermedizin in seinen Bann zieht, gerät sein Leben vollends aus den Fugen. Kurz darauf muss der Zehnjährige das Dorf verlassen. Er wird Student in Basel. Die Wege von Melk und Ueli trennen sich. Erst Jahre später gibt es ein Wiedersehen: bei der Schlacht von Marignano. Das blutige Gemetzel lässt in Uelis Leben nichts wie es einmal war. Er fühlt sich schuldig und heimatlos, bis er in Zürich Anna kennenlernt. Alles scheint gut zu werden. Doch dann kommt die Pest …
The situation between Bucer and Wittenberg was further exacerbated by Bucer’s translation of Luther’s Church Postil. Before the theological differences between Bucer and Wittenberg had become manifest, Luther himself had requested, through the Strassburg publisher Johann Herwagen, that Bucer should undertake the translation of Luther’s Postil into Latin, especially for the use of Evangelicals in France and Italy.
Bucer’s translation was issued from Herwagen’s press in six volumes from 1525–27. Luther was well pleased with the first three volumes of the translation. Bucer’s translation of the fourth volume, however, which appeared on July 27, 1526, provoked a new crisis.
At this point in the work, having become inclined to Zwingli’s views on the Lord’s Supper, Bucer had hesitated about how to continue. He felt obligated to the publisher, Herwagen, to complete the translation, and in general he found Luther’s teaching excellent, but he did not want to spread Luther’s views on the Lord’s Supper to the churches of France and Italy.
Despite another warning from Zwingli, and even though he knew the Wittenbergers were already angry about his interpolations in Bugenhagen’s work, Bucer proceeded to make his own additions to Luther’s text, offering his own opinions on the Supper, though this time clearly distinguished from Luther’s view. Bucer’s insertions took three forms: a preface “to the brethren in Italy”; notes on some of Luther’s statements in the postil sermons; and a letter to the reader giving an exegesis of 1 Cor. 9:24–10:5 (in opposition to Luther’s sermon on the Epistle for Septuagesima Sunday).
The preface was especially irritating to Luther. On one hand, Bucer spoke of Luther as a great man, and on the other hand, he tried to discredit Luther as fallible and to spread his own views on the Lord’s Supper instead.*
It’s always best to get a sympathetic translator. Otherwise…
*Open Letter to Johann Herwagen and Preface to the Fourth Volume of Martin Bucer’s Latin Translation of the Church Postil (LW Vol. 59, pp. 164–165).
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…]).
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.”
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.
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!
Zwingli’s Antwort über Balthasar Hubmaiers Taufbüchlein, appeared on 5 November 1525.
It commences (after its Preface to Hubmaier)
Für das erst, das der widertouff ein sect oder ein rott sye, ist offenbar, dann ir anfang hat dise gstalt: Die by uns den widertouff angehebt, habend vormals uns zuegemuotet, daß wir ein besundere kilchen anhuebind. Und do wir inen das nit gestattet, sind sy hinus gefaren uff das land, und habend on alles kundthuon der obergheit der kilchen: der bischoffen oder wächteren, in den wincklen angehebt ze widertouffen.
Nun verstadt mencklich, so sy das liecht geflohen habend, das sy ir meinung vom widertouff der kilchen nit gesagt habend, darinn sy inn angehebt, und darinn ir urteil und bericht nit erwartet, das es offenlich ein sect und rott ist; dann die kilch sol unser leer urteilen 1. Corinth. 14. [1. Cor. 14. 29], Ioan. 10. [Joh. 10. 27]. Denn das sind rotten, die zämenvallend hinder der ordnung, dero sy ordenlich söllend ghorsam sin etc.
Nun habend sy das nit an einem end allein gethon, sunder an gheinem end anderst, dann wie sy zum ersten gethon habend, das ist: ir meinung vor gheiner kilchen offen nie fürgetragen, sunder all weg zum ersten in den wincklen angehebt ze widertouffen.
Hubmaier was the most intellectually gifted of the ‘Anabaptists’ but he was a man given to waffling. When faced with the prospect of expulsion from Zurich he suddenly came to agree with Zwingli on the subject of baptism and then his conscience got the better of him and he recanted his recantation.
So he was locked up. And then expelled.
Zwingli’s ‘Answer’ is a fine example of an excellent and yet ultimately unpersuasive defense of infant baptism. And that primarily for one reason- baptism isn’t like circumcision. Baptism is an act undertaken by believers. Circumcision was an act performed upon newborns.
The analogy Zwingli and other defenders of infant baptism cling to – i.e., that just as circumcision served as a sign of the covenant for Israel so too does baptism for Christians – is false. They are incomparable.
Still, Zwingli being wrong about baptism only means one thing: he wasn’t always right. But even given his disagreement with Hubmaier, his tone is extremely civil (a gift Luther completely lacked) –
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
Today With Zwingli: Why He Wrote His “Suggestio deliberandi super propositione Hadriani Nerobergae facta”
A friend, writing from Ravensburg, in Wurtemberg, twenty-two miles east-north-east of Constance, had informed Zwingli, under date of November 2, 1522, that at the Imperial Diet at Nuremberg that year it was declared that the Pope had four plans in hand: “peace between Cæsar and Pompey [i. e., between the Emperor and the King of France]; the annihilation of the cause of Luther; the reform of the Church; and a war against the Turks.”
This was the occasion of Zwingli’s Latin pamphlet, hastily written as usual, entitled: “A suggestion of the advisability of reflecting upon the proposal made by Pope Adrian to the princes of Germany at Nuremberg; written by one who has deeply at heart the welfare of the Republic of Christ in general and of Germany in particular.”
It is characterised by Zwingli’s qualities of clear-mindedness, candour, modesty, and Christian zeal. It contains several skilful quotations of Scripture. It expresses great scepticism as to the reality of the alleged papal schemes except the crushing of Luther; and against that it utters an emphatic protest. No reformation could come from Rome.*
Zwingli concludes this little Flugschrift thusly:
Summa summarum: Nemo tam hebes sit, ut propter Romanenses, qui Germaniam tot sęculis riserunt, quicquam tumulti excitet etiamsi Christi causa non ageretur; iterum nemo tam servili ac abiecto animo, ut, ultro oblata libertate, nolit ea iuxta Pauli verbum potius uti, quam infructuosę imo detrimentosę, servitutis loris teneri. Esaię 8 [Jes. 8. 9f.]: Congregamini populi et vincemini, et audite universę procul terrę! Confortamini et vincemini, accingite vos et vincemini, inite consilium et dissipabitur, loquimini verbum et non fiet, quia nobiscum deus.
*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), 176–177.
At ten years of age Zwingli was sent to Basel to study and then to Bern and Vienna (at around fifteen years of age) where he earned a Bachelor’s degree. By 1506 he had earned a Master of Arts at Basel’s famous University and then shortly after celebrated his first Mass at his hometown before moving to Glarus to take up his priestly office. It was while he was in that picturesque village that Zwingli poured himself into his studies of the Bible, led by the urgings of Erasmus, who was then the leader of learning in Switzerland and across western Europe. According to his own testimony, it was in 1515 that the ‘reformatory’ spirit began to stir in his heart so that when he moved to Einsiedeln (in 1516) to serve the congregation there, he was already pursuing the beginnings of Reformed thought.*
*Jim West, “Christ Our Captain”: An Introduction to Huldrych Zwingli (Quartz Hill, CA: Quartz Hill Publishing House, 2011), 12–13.
In the Church of Christ government is just as necessary as preaching, although this latter occupies the first place. For as a man cannot exist except as composed of both body and soul, however much the body is the humbler and lower part, so the Church cannot exist without the civil government, though the government attends to and looks after the more material things that have not to do with the spirit.
Since, then, two particularly bright lights of our faith, Jeremiah and Paul, bid us pray to the Lord for our rulers that they may permit us to lead a life worthy of God, how much more ought all in whatever kingdom or people to bear and to do all things to guard the Christian peace!
Hence we teach that tribute, taxes, dues, tithes, debts, loans, and all promises to pay of every kind should be paid and the laws of the state in general be obeyed in these things.