The Beliefs of Ulrich Zwingli

The Beliefs of Ulrich Zwingli

Like Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli believed in the necessity of reform. The beliefs of Zwingli can be found in his ‘67 Articles’, published in 1523. They include:

Faith demanded an active commitment to God

The practices of the Roman Catholic Church took one’s mind away from what Christ taught. There was no justification for these practices in the Bible.

Whatever could not be justified by the Bible was to be abolished.

Religion was a personal experience which did not require sacraments or ceremonies to sustain it.

The was no trace of God in the consecrated sacraments. The service of communion was simply an act of commemoration. The belief that there was a presence was mere superstition. In this, Zwingli differed from Martin Luther.

The Bible is the law of God.

A truly Christian community must follow the Bible as closely as possible.

As a result of the final point, the state virtually merged with the church in Zurich, a city that adopted Zwingli’s reforms. Zwingli’s approach impressed the city council of Zurich and in January 1523, he was ordered to attend a public disputation between himself and the Bishop of Constance. Each was given the time to explain what he stood for and Zwingli was considered to be the victor. This support allowed Zwingli to introduce into Zurich the reforms that he felt the city required.

In the city Magistrates not only kept order but they were seen as guardians of public morality – “a church without a magistrate is mutilated and incomplete”. A Court of Morals was set up.

“This evangelical reform of the lives of individual men and women, carried out through the agency of civil government, was one of Zwingli’s major contributions to the Protestant Reformation.” (Lockyer)

Nothing like this was attempted by Martin Luther.

All symbols of medieval religion were removed from the city’s cathedral and churches. Zwingli claimed that these hindered the true worship of God. Pictures, organs, shrines and images were removed. Public Bible readings were introduced in January 1524 and clerical marriage was allowed. In 1525, the monasteries in Zurich were dissolved. In April 1525, Mass was formally abolished and replaced with a simple communion service in which preaching and prayer played the most important part. People no longer knelt at the altar but received bread and wine in their seats.

While Zwingli received support from the city council, some felt that the city was moving too rapidly, especially in view of the city’s proximity to Rome. Zurich only had a population of about 5,400 and so was susceptible to any form of attack, especially if it was couched in terms of a crusade.

By the end of 1525, the authority of the pope and the Bishop of Constance was formally abolished in Zurich and ecclesiastical authority was passed to the city council. In 1529, attendance church became compulsory and those who did not attend were punished.

Lay people were also given a role to play in that they could teach. Daily public lectures were introduced at the city’s cathedral, which were devoted to the Bible. Laymen were encouraged to discuss issues and to question.

See also: The 67 Articles

MLA Citation/Reference

"The Beliefs of Ulrich Zwingli". 2023. Web.