Ulrich Zwingli: How his Works influenced the Church Today

27 Nov
Ulrich Zwingli: How his Works influenced the Church Today

Ulrich Zwingli: Printed by Hans Asper


Ulrich Zwingli was a highly regarded Swiss Protestant leader during the era of the church reformation and he actually played a significant role in the breaking up of the Roman Catholic Church thus setting up the protestant wing. He is in fact ranked in the third place after Martin Luther and John Calvin with regard to the protestant reformers. Initially Zwingli was a Roman Catholic cleric in the state of Zurich, Swiss city and his main oppositions was against the selling of indulgences, as well as the manner in which the Catholic Church was pardoning those souls in the purgatory. Therefore for being a protestant reformer he shaped views in relic worship as well as the Lord’s Supper in the sixteenth century. His work later then impacted the church today (Nichols 2007).

Zwingli was apparent born at Wildhaus Switzerland on January 1, 1484 to parents Margret and Ulrich Zwingli. For once his family background influenced him to pursue theology matters as for instance his father was an influential principal magistrate in his home village, while his brother named Bartholomew was also the community priest. Moreover, his brother named Johannes was an abbot in the Benedictine abbey found in Fischingen whereas his probable uncle, Bunzli was also an abbot in the Old St. John’s church near Wildhaus (Hambrick & Charles 1984).

He received his early on schooling at Wesen under the supervision of this uncle, who by then was learning at Basle as well as coaching in the institution of St. Theodore, which Zwingli hereafter attended. For higher education he attended the universities of Berne, Vienna, and Basel. These institutions where actually known as amongst some of the outmost humanists of Switerzerland. Zwingli was exceedingly knowledgeable in the conventional studies of ancient classics, physics, astronomy, music, and poetry, acquiring his degree in the year 1504 also Master of Arts at the University of Basel in 1506. It was, astoundingly, along with his total emersion in the philosophies of humanism at institution, that he met humanities who would eventually sow extensive seeds of activism and reformation in his mentality (Green 1976).

Through the influence of Thomas Wyttenbach, he was encouraged to undertake serious theology,   and this saw him back to studies and thereafter receiving the degree of Master of Theology. Soon after he got that he was selected to be a priest of Glarus. Therefore Zwingli had lived a normal life, and what really influenced much of his life in the church were the humanistic features he came across in the several institutions he attended (Potter 1975).

After being ordained into priesthood in 1506 at the town of Glarus, and thereafter started studying Erasmus writings and these literatures are somehow credited to have activated the reformations instincts in Zwingli. Subsequent to relocating to Einsiedeln, he came close to the evilest intrinsic practices rooted in the Roman Catholic for instance like buying of indulgences. He then strongly started condemning and preaching against them, and he also powerfully opposed the church’s mercenary service, which was a practice that appeared particularly to make the church wealthy while murdering Swiss youngsters as well as leading others to an existence of moral crumble in the expression of constant conflict.

It was after being called on to the cathedral at Zurich to preach that’s when he started to deeply explain the bible and how people ought to stick to the exact teachings of the holy book rather than queer explanations. That’s when his humanism emerged where he didn’t stick to the doctrinal innovation of his fellow clergy and he also went further to speak out against an indulgence preacher. The alteration of Zwingli the politician and Humanist into an educator of the new devotion was greatly facilitated by the political and ecclesiastical conditions of the public authorities and people at Zurich city as well as Switzerland in general (Green 1976).

The general public displayed immense religious enthusiasm externally however it was not enough to counteract the molder of morals, and this resulted mainly from the church’s mercenary army system. The clerical to a great level neglected their responsibilities; where a lot of them lived in states of concubinage, and attached in the shameless chase of spiritual pretends, hence damaging their reputation. While in Zurich, Zwingli became outspoken concerning the deeds of the Pope who was much into politics and this made him denounce the mercenary system and also made him publicly relinquish his papal retirement fund. One significant achievement into his revolts was the refusal of Zurich canton into entering any alliances with France (Ulrich Zwingli (n.d.)).

Even though the seeds of transformation had by then been planted, Zwingli was not fully in the Lords side but a 1520 plague completely reformed to total obedience of the truthful teachings of scripture. Throughout Switzerland tremendous reforms were brought about by the petition to the magistrate of the metropolis who called for a ponder between Roman Catholic reformers and theologians. He who protected his position mainly effectively and roughly always it happened that the reformers who generally based their opinion solely on the scripture or rather the bible, was awarded the freedom to make, or on the other hand not make, the doubtful reform. Zwingli was really thorough in his arguments as he based them on humanism thus this saw him win his first of numerous successful debates he undertook. Several of the reforms instigated by his debates included the abandonment of Lent, replacement of the mass, declaration of clerical celibacy to be umbilical; moreover the churches were disengaged from the papacy which brought out the protestant factions (Hambrick & Charles 1984).

Owing to his achievement as a politician, Zwingli attained much reputation as well as importance elevated to higher heights. He came out as a strong sponsor of numerous religious innovations, and his initial reformatory work called “Vom Erkiesen und Fryheit der Spysen”, came into the limelight booksellers Froschauer together with his acquaintances openly defied the religious law touching fasting, and a debate relating to fasts broke out. Zwingli affirmed the fasting provisions which he termed them as mere human orders which were not in accord with the Holy Writ; and the scriptures found in the Bible were the sole supply of faith, as he emphasized in his second literature work, “Archeteles”. During the designation the Bishop of Constance that is when he pressured the town to conform to the full scripture’s teachings (Potter 1975).

Relic worship

A relic is described by the Catholic Church as Something connected with or belonging to Our Lord or even the Saints, which include either a piece of clothing they wore or a part of their bodies. This practice by the church has been active since time immemorial and it is even adept that everywhere a chapel is opened, or a sanctuary consecrated, it usually cannot be comprehensively complete exclusive of some artifact or additional of she-saint or he-saint to give holiness to it. The relic of the saints together with the cross and decayed bones of the church martyrs form a great element of the possessions of the Church. The grossest pretenses have been practiced in view to such relics; and most driveling stories have been narrated of their wonderfully working powers, along with that too by clergies of high name in the account of Christendom.

Zwingli was more outspoken on the issue of the Catholic Church practicing relic worship where he termed it as worshiping idols and items which were against the teachings of the bible. Which followed was a religious disputation basically fighting against the practical institution of the state Catholic Church, the excessive adoration of the saints, the use of images which hug throughout the worship halls, the kneeling before Jesus or Mary’s portraits, as well as placement of saints’ bones in alters. No notable delegate of the prehistoric Faith was in attendance but nevertheless Zwingli urged the acceptance of his church doctrines so fruitfully which made even his friends warn him against fighting for the removal of the ancient beliefs and customs as well as their usage in church proceedings. Actually the reforms came into effect Zurich in 1525 (Nichols 2007).

It was about the Easter festive in 1524 when pilgrimages and indulgences were abolished, and in addition Extreme Unction and the sacraments of Penance were rejected, as well as organs, alters, relics, statues, and pictures destroyed, in spite of of their artistic significance. Also sacred vessels of enormous worth, such as monstrances and chalices were all melted into currency. The Catholic Church possessions were apprehended by the State, which mostly gained the majority by the repression of the church monasteries; for instance the Fraumünster Abbey, which was founded in 853, was willingly surrendered to the worldly authorities by the very last abbess (Ulrich Zwingli (n.d.)).

The church culture of Celibacy was eventually rejected as opposing to Holy Writ, which saw nuns and monks getting married. Since the early year of 1522 Zwingli together with ten additional ecclesiastics gathered at Einsiedeln and tackled a lobby to the Bishop of Constance with regard to allowing priests the freedom to enjoy the marriage rite. They made declarations on the sceneries which prevailed pertaining the shameful and disgraceful life which the clergy till the moment led with the opposite humanity, thus giving dreadful scandal to everybody. Through the petitions celibacy was dropped and this opened the gates for numerous priests throughout Zurich to enter the marriage sacrament. What followed was a fresh marriage law which regulated all the innovations and also the Mass ritual of the Catholic Church fell under scrutiny and was abolished thus introducing the memorial church service of the Last Supper in its place.


Zwingli’s views and their impact however did not achieve much force like Luther’s and Calvin’s due to the geographic locality of Zurich city. Nevertheless majority of his views saw their way to the university levels and due to their influence they received some publications for instance the generally recognized sixty-seven articles. He is renowned as a reformer who influenced the establishment of Protestantism to the nation of Switzerland. He largely changed the religious orientation with regard to the Swiss society, thus actually without him the country would at present still been subjugated by the Catholic doctrine, hence religious pluralism grew in Switzerland. His theocracy and views paved the way for a refinement of the rectification in Switzerland which opened for numerous to form the Church of United Methodist. Overall his impact to the Christian religion through the reformation brought out theological thinking throughout the country cantons and his works and views on the papal, relic worship, lord supper, and baptism paved way for contemporary churches all over the world (Potter 1975).



Green, Lowell C. (1976)“What Was The True Issue At Marburg In 1529.”Springfielder 40.2 102-106. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials.Web. 16 Nov. 2012

Gordon, Bruce.(2002) The Swiss Reformation. Manchester, UK; New York: Manchester UP, Print

Hambrick-Stowe, Charles E. (1984)”Ulrich Zwingli : The Life and Works of One Man” Christian Century 101.11 335-339. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials.Web.  16 Nov. 2012.

Nichols, Stephen J. (2007) The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, Print

Potter, G R. (1975) “Zwinglian Synods InEastern Switzerland, 1529-1531.”Journal Of Ecclesiastical History 26.3 261-266. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials.Web. 16 Nov. 2012

“Ulrich Zwingli: Prophet of the Modern World. (n.d.)” Ulrich Zwingli: Prophet of the Modern World.  Web. 16 nov. 2012.

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Posted by on November 27, 2014 in Essay & Research Writing


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