Category Archives: Zwingli

Fun Facts From Church History: The Catholic Prelate Who Defended Zwingli in Writing

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.*

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*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.

The ‘Short Christian Introduction’ of 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

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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.

Zwingli on the Source of War: Atheism

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.

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*The Latin Works and The Correspondence of Huldreich Zwingli: Together with Selections from His German Works, Volume 1 (S. M. Jackson, Ed.), p.130.

Today With Zwingli

zwingliThere 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.
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*H. Zwingli, The Latin works of Huldreich Zwingli, (Vol. 3, p. 221).

Zwingli’s Birthday Greeting to Luther

zwingl_baden

Ulrich Zwinglis Spiritualität: Ein Beispiel reformierter Frömmigkeit

Gottes Wort führt nicht auf Abwege und lässt niemanden in der Finsternis umherirren. Es speist den menschlichen Geist, erhellt die menschliche Seele mit allem Heil und allen Gnaden, erfüllt sie mit Gottvertrauen, sodass diese Gott in sich innerlich aufnimmt. Im Worte lebt sie, zum Worte strebt sie. (Zwingli 1522)

Ulrich Zwingli und die reformierte Tradition überhaupt sind spiritueller als ihr Ruf. Samuel Lutz zeigt auf, dass sich Zwinglis Spiritualität nicht im Verborgenen abspielt, sondern in das kirchliche, politische und alltägliche Leben ausstrahlt. Für Zwingli gehören sowohl geistliches und gesellschaftliches Leben als auch Theologie und Spiritualität untrennbar zusammen. Ein Schatz an Zitaten aus Zwinglis Schriften lassen Leserinnen und Leser unmittelbar eintauchen in Zwinglis Gedankenwelt und an seiner Spiritualität teilhaben.

Via Refo500.

Today With Zwingli in His Letters

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.

Oecolampadius writes

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.

Vale.
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.

Vale.
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.

Huldrych Zwingli On The Problem With Pseudo-Scholars

Illustration: Daniel Lienhard/Flyer Reformierte Kirche Kanton Zürich

Illustration: Daniel Lienhard/Flyer Reformierte Kirche Kanton Zürich

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.”

Just Because

Today With Zwingli: Good People, Don’t Fall For Eck’s Deceptions

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!

Contra Hubmaier

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) –

Zwingli- on the Magistrate

zwingli_study2I 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

When Did Zwingli ‘Become’ A Reformer

9783788730321I have come to the conclusion that Zwingli moved bit by bit away from Rome and towards reform beginning in 1515 after the shocking horror of the Battle of Marignano.  Others date the beginning of his ‘turn’ to 1516.  Still others, wrongly believing that he was influenced by Luther, date it as late as 1520.

Irene Dingel writes

Zu welchem Zeitpunkt Zwingli aber über seine vom Humanismus geprägte Haltung hinausging und typisch reformatorische Grundsätze im Sinne der reformatorischen Rechtfertigungslehre vertrat, bleibt schwierig zu ermitteln. Er selbst äußerte einmal, er habe schon 1516 mit der reformatorischen Predigt begonnen. Nach seinem Selbstzeugnis und der sich davon inspirierenden Forschung hätte Zwingli dann schon vor Luther evangelisch gepredigt. Es bleibt aber fraglich, was Zwingli in diesem Zusammenhang unter »Reformation« bzw. »reformatorisch« verstanden haben mag. Mit der neueren Forschung ist festzuhalten, dass sich Zwingli in den Jahren 1519 bis 1520 allmählich von den humanistischen Grundsätzen löste und stärker reformatorisch geprägte Vorstellungen zu entwickeln begann. Es ist zu vermuten, dass Luther und seine Schriften in jener Zeit, in der sich Zwingli – bis Mitte 1520 – allmählich zum Reformator entwickelte, ein verstärkender, aber kein auslösender Faktor für diese Hinwendung zu reformatorischen Inhalten war.

I stand by the early date, 1515, for a great number of reasons.  Most notably because it is generally the most jarring life events which tend to refocus our lives.

At any rate, Dingel’s book is just super.

Zwingli and I Share The Same Practice in Preaching

Predigtmanuskripte hat Zwingli allerdings nicht hinterlassen und wohl auch nicht angefertigt. Selbst Nachschriften von Predigthörern existieren nicht. – Irene Dingel

Neither do I.  It’s really the only way.  If you stand there and read to me, I would prefer you just printed it out and let me read it at my leisure.

Today With Zwingli: Why He Wrote His “Suggestio deliberandi super propositione Hadriani Nerobergae facta”

zw.jpgA 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.

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*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.

The Celebration of All Saints Day (and Other Holidays) in Zwingli’s Zurich

The Church services were held on Sundays from seven to eight o’clock in the morning and between three and four in the afternoon. In the Great Minster there was a service for children and servants from eleven to twelve o’clock. During the week there was also a preaching service in the morning at five and at eight, which took the place of the early masses.

On Friday, which was the market day, Zwingli preached especially for the country people. At the end of 1525 certain ministers were set apart for visitation of the sick, inasmuch as this was no part of the duties of the people’s priest.

Of the holy days were retained Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter; also St. Stephen’s, All Saints’, Candlemas, St. John the Baptist’s, Mary Magdalene’s, and more strangely the Annunciation and Ascension of the Virgin Mary, together with the day of the city patron saints, Felix and Regula. On these days, as on Sunday, public business and all work were forbidden, except necessary work, as harvesting.*

The only Holy Days I observe, on the other hand, are Christmas and Good Friday and Easter.  All the rest are just papist vestiges.  Oh, and Zwingli’s birthday (1 January) and the anniversary of his murder at the hands of the papist troops at Kappel am Albis (11 October).

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*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), 291–292.

A Reformation Day Zwingli Gallery

Because

 

Zwingli: On the Proper Relationship of Church and State

zwingliIn 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.

‘Reformation Day’? Nope. ‘Reformations Days’? Yup.

‘Reformation Day’  Nope!’

‘The Reformation’ is a misnomer if ever there were one, for in fact there was no ‘one’ Reformation any more than there was just one Reformer. ‘The Reformation’, when used by students and the general public, usually refers to the Reformation of Martin Luther which commenced at the end of October in the year of our Lord, 1517.

Even then, though, Luther’s intent wasn’t as earth-shattering as later ages took it to be. For Luther, the placement of a series of theses in Latin on the Church Door at Wittenberg Castle was nothing more than an invitation to debate. In other words, Luther didn’t see his act as the commencement of a revolution; he saw it as an academic exercise.

‘The Reformation’ is, then, little more than a label derived from historical hindsight gazing mono-focularly at a series of events over a period of time across a wide geographical landscape. Each Reformer had roots sunk in fertile ground and their work was simply the coming to fruition of generations of shift in the Roman Catholic Church.

Hence, it would be more appropriate to speak of ‘Reformations’ in the same way that we now speak of ‘Judaisms’ and ‘Christianities’. The Reformation was no monolith.

Who, then were the Reformers who gave birth to the Reformations most closely associated with them? They were Huldrych Zwingli, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, in just that order.

In 1515 while he was Pastor of the village Church in Glarus, Huldrych Zwingli began to call into question the dependence of the Church on the teachings of the Scholastics. He also questioned the value of the Vulgate for preaching and began earnest study of the Greek New Testament. There, memorizing the letters of Paul (in Greek) he discovered the Gospel which would come to feature so prominently in his Reforming efforts: Salvation is by grace, through faith, and not through works as proclaimed by the Scholastic theologians. By 1519, when he moved to Zurich to become the Pastor of the Great Minster, Zwingli was already well on his way to Reforming the worship of the Church and the administration of the ‘Sacraments’. In short order, within a few years, the Mass was abandoned and replaced by the ‘Lord’s Supper’ and the fixation of the Church on images was denounced and those images removed in due course.

Zwingli’s Reformation was carried out with the cooperation of the City government, which is why Zwingli, along with Luther and Calvin, were to be known to history as ‘Magisterial Reformers’. Not because they were ‘Magisterial’ but because each had the support of their city’s magistrates.

North of Zurich, in Wittenberg, Luther’s Reformatory efforts were coming to full steam around the same time. In 1520 he broke with Rome irrevocably with the publication of his stunning ‘On The Babylonian Captivity of the Church’. From there, there was to be no turning back. And here we must remind ourselves that at this juncture Luther was not dependent on the work of Zwingli, nor was Zwingli dependent on the work of Luther. Both were pursuing reform along parallel tracks, separately.

Further to the West of Switzerland a decade later John Calvin, an exile from France, a lawyer by training and a theologian by training and desire, began his own efforts at Reform. Several years after Zwingli’s death and long after Luther’s demise Calvin plodded away in Geneva attempting manfully to bring that raucous city to heel under the power of the Gospel.

Each of these Reformers were ‘Fathers’ of their own Reformation. Each was, originally, independent of the other and in many ways they tried very hard to retain that independence even when their common foe, the Church of Rome, was the target as their common enemy. Each contributed to ‘The Reformation’ in their own unique way.

If, then, we wish to honor their memory and their efforts, it behooves us to set aside our preconceptions or our beliefs that ‘The Reformation’ began on October 31, 1517. It didn’t. It began in 1515 in Glarus. And it began in 1517 in Wittenberg. And it began in Geneva in 1536.

Happy Reformations Days.

Glarus Loved Zwingli, For the Most Part…

Except, of course, the lovers of war who despised his anti-mercenary service sentiments.  Accordingly, his biographer notes, that even when he took up residence in Einsiedeln in October of 1516, that technically

… he remained pastor of Glarus till he went to Zurich. He so signs himself on October 30, 1517, when writing to the chief magistrate of Winterthur; his name so appears upon the official records, and he drew the parish income and out of it paid his “vicar” or substitute. His people were anxious to retain him and promised to rebuild his house if he would stay. They were proud of his reputation for scholarship, of his large library, of his musical skill, of the friends he had made, and of his devoted pupils, and of his rise from obscurity to prominence among the Swiss. They knew what an excellent preacher he was, how faithful a pastor, how firm a friend, how enthusiastic a patriot, how generous, how jovial, how self-sacrificing, in short, what a fine man he was. But his enemies, though far less numerous than his friends, were equally determined and compelled his departure.

It only takes one or two obnoxious enemies to drive one out no matter how many loving supporters one has.