Church History: Ulrich Zwingli
Heavily influenced by the Humanist genius Erasmus, Zwingli came to be convinced of the primacy of Scripture while serving as parish priest in the village of Glarus.
He also became deeply involved in the politics of the time, particularly where the legendary Swiss mercenaries were concerned.
The Swiss mercenaries were the continents best…when kings went to war it was a race to get the Swiss on their side against the opposition.
He was a chaplain for the famed group and saw them slaughtered in a battle in 1515…and began to speak out against the mercenary trade and for Swiss patriotism.
His outspokenness caused him to have to move to Einsiedeln…where he made his first contribution to the Protestant faith.
Becoming more and more conversant with the Greek and Hebrew texts, Zwingli abandoned the lectionary and began to teach the Bible chapter by chapter, verse by verse.
No, it didn’t start with Chuck…
Zwingli had a “Luther” moment in Einsiedeln as well when he ran the indulgence purveyor Bernard Samson out of town…with the popes approval.
In 1518 Zwingli became a finalist for the position of “peoples priest” in Zurich…but there was a small problem.
Rumor had it that Zwingli had a sexual affair with a young woman while in Einsiedeln…which he confessed to, though he blamed the woman for seducing him.
His competition for the position, however, had a known concubine and six illegitimate children and the edge went to Zwingli.
In late 1519 and early 1520 the plague came to Zurich…Zwingli refused to leave his post to save himself and contracted the disease himself.
He recovered, but a quarter of the city died.
In 1522, the Reformation came to full manifestation in Zurich…with sausages.
Two men ate a sausage dinner during Lent with Zwingli present.
He did not partake, but defended the Christian liberty to eat what you want, when you want…and fast the same way.
That, believe it or not, was a spiritual and political earthquake.
The city fathers agreed with Zwingli…and the Reformation went into overdrive.
The next domino to fall was clerical celibacy, aided by the fact that Zwingli was already living with his partner, whom he married in 1524.
In 1523 Zwingli defended his 67 Theses to the city council and in 1525 the council outlawed the Mass.
Zurich was fully Protestant.
Zwingli and Luther agreed significantly on most theological issues…but one disagreement prevented “communion”.
The Marburg Colloquy was called to establish political and theological unity and Luther and Zwingli met face to face.
They quickly came to agreement on 14 of 15 doctrinal points Luther demanded be met.
On the fifteenth point, Luther drew on the table with chalk… “THIS IS MY BODY”
Zwingli rejected the “real presence” of Christ in the Eucharist on the basis that Christ’s body is seated at the right hand of the Father…and cannot be in more than one place at one time.
He believed in a “spiritual presence” and his exegesis provided the foundation of the “memorial view” of communion common today.
According to Luther, this meant that he and Zwingli were “of a different spirit”…and the first split of the Reformation took place.
In 1531 Zwingli was killed in battle against the Roman Catholics.
Your modern contributions from Zwingli…verse by verse teaching and the memorial view of communion.