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Zwingli Submitted Sixty-Seven Articles to the Reformation Debate

Zwingli was one of the first Protestant reformers.

WHEN ULRICH ZWINGLI became a priest in Switzerland, he took his duties seriously, believing he would have to give an account for the blood of the “sheep” that perished on his watch. Studying the Bible, he became convinced that many practices of the Catholic church were unbiblical. Before he ever heard of Luther, he argued that the Bible was a truer guide to truth than the church, that Jesus Christ was our intercessor, not Mary, and that pilgrimages gained a sinner no merit.      

But even while preaching from the New Testament and memorizing large passages in the original Greek, Zwingli was having affairs with women and saw no discrepancy between this behavior and his profession of faith. After the Reformation became full-blown, he married a beautiful widow in Zurich, Switzerland. The pair had four children. 

Zwingli had been invited to Zurich after proving himself an outstanding thinker, first as a chaplain to Swiss mercenary armies, and then as a priest in Einseideln. Once in Zurich, he began chipping away at traditional Catholic practices such as compulsory fasting during Lent and selling indulgences. Instead of following the assigned lessons, he preached through the book of Matthew. While doing so, he attacked the use of images, and rejected the mass as commonly practiced. 

Some parishioners objected to these deviations from tradition. Zwingli defended his positions. He convinced the city elders to allow a debate and a vote on them. On this day, 29 January 1523, he presented Sixty-Seven Articles for the consideration of Zurich. 

These covered the “innovations” he was making. Articles two and three contained the epitome of his teaching. 

II. The sum and substance of the Gospel is that our Lord Jesus Christ, the true Son of God, has made known to us the will of his heavenly Father, and has with his innocence released us from death and reconciled God. 

III. Hence Christ is the only way to salvation for all who ever were, are and shall be. 

Although another debate had to be held in October that year, Zurich accepted Zwingli’s teachings and he became a leader in the Reformation. In that capacity he persecuted Anabaptist Christians. He sought unity with German reformers, but at the Colloquy of Marburg Martin Luther rejected Zwingli’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper and refused to shake his hand. Zwingli died in 1531 accompanying an ill-advised and mismanaged attack on neighboring Catholics, who quartered his body and mixed it with dung.

Dan Graves


For more on the Reformation and counter-Reformation consider the following DVD and print resources

Christian History #4, Zwingli: Father of the Swiss Reformation

Zwingli and Calvin focuses on the two most famous Swiss reformers.

Two other documentaries also discuss Zwingli—Calvin, Zwingli, and Br. Klaus: Shapers of the Faith

and Following in the Footsteps of the Swiss Reformation (available at RedeemTV)

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