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Reformation Preaching: Zwingli's Defense of the Pure Word of God



This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Swiss Reformation (1519-2019), begun through God’s servant Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) especially in the city of Zurich. The Reformation in Switzerland truly began when Zwingli commenced with preaching through the Bible in January of 1519. It revolutionized the church – and the city! – so much so that Zurich’s city council called for public debates on whether or not Zwingli was truly preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.


The most significant of these debates was held on January 29, 1523, at which Zwingli first produced his “Sixty-Seven Articles” defending his biblical preaching and teaching.  Those articles represent an early Swiss Reformation confession, similar to Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses.


In this post, we quote a portion of the opening remarks of Zwingli at this debate, as found in Selected Works of Huldreich Zwingli (1484-1531), edited by Samuel M. Jackson (Philadelphia; University of Pennsylvania, 1901). His appeal is standard for the Protestant Reformers: Scripture alone.


"...For the past five years I have preached in this city of Zurich nothing but the true, pure and clear word of God, the holy Gospel, the joyous message of Christ, the Holy Scripture, not by the aid of man, but by the aid of the Holy Ghost....

At such request of mine, my Lords, perhaps by divine will, you have granted me permission to hold a discussion in German before the assembled Council, for which privilege I thank you especially as my Lords. I have also brought together in outline the contents and import of all my speeches and sermons delivered at Zurich, have issued the same in German through the press, so that every one might see and know what my doctrine and sermons at Zurich have been, and shall be in the future, unless I am convinced of something else.

I hope and am confident, indeed I know, that my sermons and doctrine are nothing else than the holy, true, pure Gospel, which God desired me to speak by the intuition and inspiration of His Spirit. But from what intent or desire God has wished such things to take place through me, His unworthy servant, I cannot know, for He alone knows and understands the secret of His counsels. Wherefore I offer here to any one who thinks that my sermons or teachings are unchristian or heretical to give the reasons and to answer kindly and without anger. Now let them speak in the name of God. Here I am."

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