Reformer of the Week: Ulrich Zwingli
What do you put your faith in? (More on faith next week) Is your faith in your church attendance or the amount of money you give? Do you trust in pastors and speakers who say things that make you feel better about yourself? Is your hope in traditions and expectations passed down through the years, or in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone? These are all important questions to ask ourselves as we look back to the past.
Last Sunday at Providence we talked about Solus Christus, the idea that our faith, our trust, our hope, our salvation, is in Jesus and Him alone. And so our Reformer of the Week is Ulrich Zwingli, the Swiss giant of the Reformation. His career was brief compared to his contemporaries Martin Luther and John Calvin, lasting only twelve years, but his influence helped shape and lead the Reformation in drastic fashion.
In light of Solus Christus, Zwingli’s greatest contribution was his aggressive teaching that questioned so many of the “Jesus + ________” traditions that man-made religion had come to require of the faithful. He had read the Bible in Greek, knew what God’s Word said, and ferociously called out the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church that taught millions of men and women that works could earn grace. It’s impossible to overstate just how revolutionary he was in his work calling for both the church and civil authorities to adhere to God’s Word.
When Zwingli was tragically killed in a battle (he was armed only with a flag and a Bible) in 1531 he was only 47 years old. We can only wonder what he might have done had he lived longer. And yet his contribution to the Reformation was that countless men and women were swayed away from meaningless ceremony and dead traditions back to our true hope, Jesus Christ. And for that we celebrate and remember him.
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