Full Text for Church History 2- Volume 27 - The Heritage of Zwingli (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY CHURCH HISTORY 02 May 27, 2005 27 CH2 CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY: CAPTION FIRST, INC. P.O. BOX 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 1 800 825 7234 * * * * * This is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in Order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings * * * * >> Okay. You've mentioned a number of names with which I am familiar, Calvin, for example, but the name Zwingly is only vaguely known to me. Who is Zwingly and what made his reformation different than Luther's? Is his influence on Christian denominations still felt today? >> Zwingly was the principle reformer of Zurich in the 1520s. And Zurich was a city state that belonged to the Swiss confederation. Now, today we think of Switzerland as kind of a modern nation state, and so it is. But in the 16th Century, it had not yet become an independent nation state. Instead, it was several smaller territories that were united rather loosely in something called that we call the Swiss confederation. They were united by mutual defense treaties that were directed primarily against the Hapsburgs who were their hereditary rulers in the Middle Ages. So Zurich was one of those city states, and it was a very important one in the Swiss confederation. Now, as far as Zwingly is concerned, he had come to Zurich in 1519 as already an experienced priest, and he began his ministry by announcing from the pulpit there that he was going to be preaching on the basis of the Word of God. He was going to start at the beginning of Matthew and go right through to the end. And he was not going to do it according to human traditions. In other words, Zwingly was announcing to the people that he was going to preach and teach really as a reformer rather than a traditional Medieval priest. So let me tell you a little about Zwingly and how he had come to this point in his life and ministry. Now, Zwingly is from Switzerland, from a little place called Wildhaus where his family was relatively prominent, although by no means a major family in Swiss political affairs. But at any rate, he had grown up really to experience firsthand life in Switzerland. And he always had a kind of great devotion to the Swiss people. His uncle had been a priest, and Zwingly's first education was really under the auspices of his uncle. And then, because he was talented, and because his parents thought that a career in the church would be a good one for their son, off he went to further his education and then finally to become a priest and be in a career within the Catholic church in Switzerland. Now, with respect to that education, Zwingly was fortunate. He was educated at some of the universities in the area: University of Vienna and later on finishing up at the University of Basel. And there he received a standard Medieval education. But he also came into contact with some of the newer currents of education at the time that we call humanism. You've heard a little bit about that previously from Professor Robinson so I don't need to elaborate on that now, but Zwingly was much enamored with the humanist program of going back to the sources, particularly the sources of the Christian religion, the New Testament and the fathers. So when he began his career as a priest, serving initially in Glarus in Switzerland, he was doing so as really kind of an Erasmian, a follower of Erasmus. And that means that he continued to study, he continued to read, he gathered a good sized library. And then when Erasmus' New Testament came out, Zwingly eagerly got ahold of it. He actually copied out word for word the Pauline corpus, the letters of Paul in the New Testament. And so undertook the study and ultimately the mastery of the Greek language so he could read and study the Scriptures. And then increasingly from the pulpit where he served, he began to talk the language of the Bible, criticizing some contemporary church practices on the basis of what he read in the Scriptures. Well, as I said, in 1519, he obtained the post of People's Priest in Zurich. And from his pulpit in Zurich, he began to preach really against many of the practices that he saw characteristic of Medieval religion that were not characteristic of New Testament Biblical religion. Those were things like the cult of the saints or indulgences or mandatory fasting or pilgrimages or mandatory celibacy of the clergy. These were the things that Zwingly saw as being so different from Biblical Christianity. Now, that list of issues would be something that Lutherans of the same time would have identified with, so in many respects, Zwingly was similar to Luther. Now, there are some big dissimilarities also, and we don't want to minimize those. But here at the outset, we should realize that to a lot of people, Zwingly and Luther sounded very much alike, especially in their concerns about what was wrong with Medieval religion. Now, for two or three years, Zwingly simply taught and preached. No changes were made in Zurich. But at last some of those who were listening and believing what Zwingly was saying felt that some changes needed to be made. And so they did. There was kind of a demonstration of new religious attitude in Zurich that occurred on Ash Wednesday in 1522. What happened on that particular occasion was that some of Zwingly's followers gathered in the home of one of the Zurich printing establishments, this was on Ash Wednesday, and they decided to defy the religious authorities by exercising Christian liberty and having a meal of fried sausages. This was strictly forbidden by church law, and yet they decided to break that law anyway. Not too long after that, the authorities arrested the lawbreakers, but this was not unexpected, either. And Zwingly now had an opportunity to preach in their defense and then to write in their defense, also. And what he argued in those writings was that on the basis of the New Testament, we have been freed from manmade ceremonies and religious rites that not even church authorities, like the local bishop or Church Councils or even the Pope has the right to take away our Christian liberty, that what was needed was a return to Biblical or New Testament Christianity. This created quite a stir in Zurich. And many people began to embrace the Reformation now as Zwingly was preaching it. But there were those who were certainly opposed. The bishop, basically the Bishop of Constance, but a part of his diocese included Zurich, was upset by what Zwingly and what some of his followers were saying and doing, and he wanted the government of Zurich, the town council, to stop it, to keep Zwingly and his followers from breaking church laws. Whether it had to do with mandatory fasting on Lent or whether it had to do with clerical celibacy. This was simply something that had stop. Well, for that reason, and also because Zwingly needed some authority to implement reform, the town council of Zurich got into the act; and they took steps, first of all, to investigate and then to make the religious changes. And this is a very important aspect of Zwingly's reformation in that reformation changes or reformation authority was closely connected to the city government of Zurich. For Zwingly, it was not just reformation of individual practice. It was really kind of a reformation of the community, that one of the goals of Christian reform ought to be the establishment of authentic Christian community. There was no separation of church and state from this perspective. Church and state really are very closely united. Well, getting back to the narrative here, in January of 1523, the town council declared that there would be a meeting, or disputation, to address the religious issues being raised by Zwingly and the reforming party and opposed by the Bishop of Constance and so forth, that they should investigate and, in effect, adjudicate these religious issues. That disputation was held on January 29th of 1523. And there you had the citizens of Zurich gathered in a large assembly hall. And you had Zwingly at the front of the hall with a table. And before him he had the Bible, the various versions, Greek and Latin, ready and willing to take on all comers. A representative from the bishop was there, but he announced that he wasn't there to debate the issues but, instead, simply to insist that no religious changes should be made without the approval of church authorities, that Zurich had no right to implement its own form of Christianity when the church authorities, the bishops, the councils, the Popes, had not yet acted, that Zurich should remain faithful to the traditions of the church. Well, it was at that point that Zwingly answered. And he answered in a way that powerfully expresses what he believed was characteristic of the Reformation. And here's what he had to say. "What are these new doctrines? The Gospel? Why, that is 1,522 years old. The teaching of the apostles? Why, they are almost as old as the Gospel. We will try everything by the touchstone of the Gospel and the fire of Paul." Well, this first disputation resulted in a resounding victory for Zwingly. And it was a triumph for the principle of the Scriptures alone as authority in the church. It was a triumph for the principle of turning religious matters over to the authority of the government. And it was a triumph for Zwingly personally now as the leader of religious reform in Zurich. Now, over the course of the next couple of years, the town council, under Zwingly's leadership, but not always following it precisely or as quickly as Zwingly would have wanted, but the town council took the lead in implementing reforms, in defiance of the bishop, but as I said, with the permission of the city government. Things that ultimately were changed here included the abolition of the Mass, especially the sacrifice of the Mass, the burial of the relics of the saints, the removal of sacred images from the churches, the silencing and then smashing of the organs in the cathedral, permission to eat meat during Lent, permission for the clergy to marry. Zwingly himself availed himself of that new freedom. Now, you can see that in some of these respects, Zwingly is going further than Luther. Sacred images, use of music within the churches. And in these respects, he's more like Carlstadt than he is like Luther. But probably the place that we can see most directly his difference from Martin Luther has to do with the Sacraments. So let me pause here and just make it clear that we understand that in many respects Zwingly's like Luther, justification by faith, doctrine of the Bible, attitude toward the vernacular and using it in the worship and life of the church; but there are some important areas of difference, as well. * * * * * This is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in Order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings * * * *