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Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.
Once upon a time there was a Swiss pastor called Zwingli. (Okay, that sounds too cheesy). Looking at accounts of Church history and in particular Reformation History how a little known pastor called Huldrych Zwingli became a Reformer (and the people’s pastor). Here is a good story that my good friend Jim West has dug up. Its a sweet story worth reading of how the Reformation was birthed and spread out in Zurich :
1524 marked the completion of the break with the Old Church as far as Zurich was concerned. The changes were made deliberately and under orders from the City Council. They occasioned no revolt, although they were of the most radical description. It was made to appear that the changes came in consequence of the city authorities’ conviction of their scripturalness, and not because Zwingli had insisted upon them. Nor was a step taken without the approval beforehand of the thoughtful classes.
Zwingli and his fellow Reformers argued before the people the propriety of the changes about to be made. Then when a sufficient time had elapsed a public debate was held in the presence of the City Council, and then the Council ordered the changes. The consequence was the changes were made once for all, were fully comprehended, and gladly assented to.
The next highlight of the Reformation week conference was the visit to Basel. ( see Haus Barnabas report here; Constance report here and Zurich report here). The town of Basel was called Basilea or Basilia in Latin and this name is documented from 374 AD. Basel like most Swiss cities is calm and sedate. Beautifully located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel is Switzerland’s second-largest urban area. the River Rhine runs through Basel and provides such a romantic backdrop to maul up this city’s turbulent and engaging history.
My trip to Basel to trace places of historical importance to the Reformation period started by a cordial visit to a local Swiss Reformed church in Riehen (a municipal of Basel).
The Reformed branch of Protestantism in Switzerland was started in Zürich by Huldrych Zwingli and spread within a few years to Basel (Johannes Oecolampadius), Bern (Berchtold Haller and Niklaus Manuel), St. Gall (Joachim Vadian), to cities in southern Germany and via Alsace (Martin Bucer) to France.
In the Swiss Reformed church in Riehen one can still see the long standing traditional architectural structure of the church set up. The pews and wall designs tell of the tensions as you look at the different designs of art of a time gone past. …Read More!
I had a very interesting trip recently to Germany and Switzerland as I followed a few of the Reformers. One of them stuck out. No he didn’t nail theses on walls but he knew how to get his point across. I must add here that the Reformation actually was not a one man crusade as some would want you to believe. God in his providence harnessed events in tandem to bring about one of the greatest revivals since Pentecost and the visible effects were actually out workings and fruits of birth pangs that had began with people going back to reading the scriptures.
In Zürich (Switzerland) stands a statue that has braved mischievous and militant Swiss pigeons to the hilt. It stands in the church yard of one of the biggest cathedrals in Zürich, the Grossmünster. The statue is of the man who was called “the people’s priest” Ulrich (Huldrych) Zwingli. Zwingli was born January 1, 1484 in Wildhaus, Switzerland. Early scholarly gifts caused him to be sent to school, especially at Basel, and he learned to love the classics.
When Zwingli became a priest he arrived in Zürich town with the announcement that he would begin to preach right through the Gospel of Matthew. This was a departure from the fragmentary reading of Scripture that had prevailed in the medieval Church. After Matthew he preached through Acts and then turned his attention to Paul’s epistles. There is a lot that the contemporary church movement would learn from this simple man who led to spiritual reform from just beginning to preach verse by verse (expository preaching) at the Grossmünster. (Click here for Zwingli resources online)
The Grossmünster (“great minster”) is a Romanesque-style Protestant church in Zürich, Switzerland. It is near the banks of the Limmat River. Construction of the present structure commenced around 1100 and it was inaugurated around 1220. Huldrych Zwingli initiated the Swiss-German Reformation in Switzerland from his pastoral office at the Grossmünster, starting in 1520. Zwingli won a series of debates …Read More!
[Adapted from an article by Steven Lawson]: Other than Martin Luther, Heinrich Bullinger, and John Calvin, the most important early Reformer was Ulrich Zwingli. A first-generation Reformer, he is regarded as the founder of Swiss Protestantism. Furthermore, history remembers him as the first Reformed theologian. Though Calvin would later surpass Zwingli as a theologian, he would stand squarely on Zwingli’s broad shoulders.
Less than two months after Luther came into the world, Zwingli was born on January 1, 1484, in Wildhaus, a small village in the eastern part of modern-day Switzerland, forty miles from Zurich. His father, Ulrich Sr., had risen from peasant stock to become an upper-middle-class man of means, a successful farmer and shepherd, as well as the chief magistrate for the district. This prosperity allowed him to provide his son with an excellent education. He presided over a home where typical Swiss values were inculcated in young Ulrich: sturdy independence, strong patriotism, zeal for religion, and real interest in scholarship. …Read More!
This week in church history we take a break and courageously read through a letter that was written by Huldrych Zwingli. I would like to believe this letter never got mailed to the intended recipient a mischievous character called Johannes Eck.
“Look out, you impudent chap, now you will experience an examination which can’t be borne by you, but only by a Hercules. You actually deserve it, that one would hurl against you everything that gives insult, derision, and offense… Is it not almost insane that you think so much of yourself, that you write against me to the Confederation in such a shameless, rude and disgusting manner?
Were you born to cause only confusion everywhere? You lacked the strength to act, after you exposed your stupidity in the presence of all, and you also still need to abandon your wickedness, so that the world has not only Eck’s foolishness, but also his meanness for a very long time as a deterring example before its eyes…
Everything manifests externally what it is internally; whether you look like a human or like an ape on the outside. You are indeed in action nothing other than a cow. You still need, as it appears to me, and everyone else, to be broken like a mule or a donkey. I could never find a man more miserable than you, even if I scanned the whole of Germany… Oh, There’s More
Ever had those questions that kept you awake on Saturday nights? Well if those questions are about Huldrych Zwingli who better to ask than Dr. Jim West.
Every now and again I’ll be debunking myths and legends related to the life of Huldrych Zwingli. That because 1) too few people actually read Zwingli. And 2) too many people read about Zwingli in sources that aren’t always reliable.
It was related by a Professor of Church History to our undergrad class (back in the early 80′s) that when Zwingli rejected the playing of organs at Zurich’s churches that he took the key to the organ at the Grossmunster and tossed it in the Limmat, the river that bisects Zurich and empties into the Lake Zurich.
That Professor was wrong. He was merely repeating a legend he had either heard or he made it up himself (the same way Scott Bailey does when he writes about Zwingli, by the way- evidently forgetting that Rev 21:8 proclaims that all liars have their place in the lake of fire). Read More