Although the reformed theology of Huldrych Zwingli shows the influence of scholasticism, it is primarily the product of the New Learning. In his early years Zwingli had a taste for the schoolmen, including Duns Scotus, but he departed from the via antiqua through the attraction of the humanism of the Parisian Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples and the members of the Florentine Academy, particularly the Neoplatonist, Marsilio Ficino. Through association with Erasmus, he acquired a philological and exegetical interest in the Scriptures and the early witnesses of tradition, Origen, Jerome, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus, Cyril of Alexandria, and John Chrysostom; only later did he succumb to the spell of St. Augustine. As a result of this regard for the early centuries of the Church, Zwingli turned primitivist in his theological thought and was led to an iconoclastic rejection of statues, crucifixes, altars, organs, incense, and all the liturgical functions that arose during the Middle Ages. The pulpit replaced the altar, and a communion service performed on a bare wooden table with wooden vessels supplanted the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Bibliocentrism. In parallel development appeared his reliance upon the Scriptures as sole norm and authority in matters of faith; these were to be privately interpreted by all Christians, so that "the cottage of every peasant is a school where the Old and New Testament could be read; this is the supreme art (der höchste Kunst )." (Corpus reformatorum 3:463.3.) Distinguishing between the interior word (faith) and the exterior word (reading and preaching of the Gospel), Zwingli taught that faith is not directly illumined by the external word but by Christ Himself, already established in the human spirit through faith: Sic verbum per nos praedicatum non facit credentes, sed Christus intus docens (Schuler and Schulthess, 6:702). Thus he repudiated an objective magisterium, or any suprapersonal authority in scriptural interpretations, and in its place substituted the subjective factors of religious experience. In his own scriptural writings he adopted a metaphorical and rhetorical exegesis rather than one that was literal (as among the scholastics) or moral (as with Martin Luther).
Ecclesiology. In Zwinglian ecclesiology the Church has two aspects: it is invisible (ideal), embracing all the elect in God; and also visible or sensible (empirical), composed of those who profess their faith and are signed with Baptism in alliance with God. Impressed with the dynamism of the primitive Church, especially at Corinth, Zwingli discarded any hierarchical structure as a hindrance to the flow of grace throughout the Christian body. He admitted, however, the need of a pastor to teach and inspire. This pastor, like the Prophets of the Old Testament, would enjoy charism and become in effect a preacher-prophet (Corpus reformatorum 3:23.6; 3:25.16). A major characteristic of Zwinglianism was the congregational organization, with its close interrelation with the secular magistracy in ecclesiastical government. The Council of the Canton (province) was to carry out the policies of the pastor and the community, including decrees of excommunication for public sinners. At Zurich, which became the first of the state churches, this wedding of laic and ecclesiastical rights gave the pastor a wide influence in the political assemblies of the community and over the "godly magistrate."
Sacramental Theory. Of the seven Sacraments, Zwingli admits only Baptism and the Eucharist as instituted by Christ. These are not efficacious and instrumental causes of grace but mere symbols (sacrae rei signa, nuda signa ) and commemorative ceremonies. Baptism is comparable to the rite of circumcision in the Old Law, and the Lord's Supper is a service like the Passover, which memorialized Israel's deliverance from the Egyptian pharao. His position on the symbolic presence of Christ in the elements of the Eucharist, corpus et sanguinem nonnisi symbolicos accipi (Corpus reformatorum 4:498.25), was a topic of lively debate among his contemporary reformers and led to several attempts to formulate a generally acceptable compromise statement. (see confessions of faith, protestant.) Marriage, though not considered a Sacrament, is placed in special honor because it is decreed by God as a sign of contract binding for life (foedus vitae ). Confirmation, the confession of sins, and the anointing of the sick are simple acts of fraternity within the Christian community; the ceremony of orders does not constitute a permanent minister but indicates only a temporary assignment for prescribed functions (Corpus reformatorum 2:404.3: 2:124.3; 3:8:24.8). In general Zwingli's rejection of sacramental efficacy is founded upon his spiritualism, which could not admit the production of spiritual grace from a sensible, material thing; this to him was magic.
Providence and Predestination. Zwingli's interpretation of divine providence and predestination of man reveals a type of pantheism in which God is author of both good and evil and man is an emanation from God, foreordained to election or reprobation; his fate is fixed and his will powerless. Both elect and doomed glorify God, the one His goodness, the other His justice, according to the plan of providence. This view of God as a universal agent causing with infallible and inexorable finality both good and evil is expressed in both the De vera et falsa religionis commentarius (1525) and the Sermo de providentia Dei (1530). Emphasis, however, is placed upon God's goodness in rescuing man from original sin, which he calls a disease (morbus, Präst ); thus the treatises take on a tone of optimism.
Although Zwingli's doctrine appears succinctly in the 67 articles drawn up on Jan. 19, 1523, and in the Christianae fidei expositio sent to Francis I, king of France, in 1531 and published posthumously by Heinrich bullinger in February 1536, it is in his tractates and pamphlets that appeared from 1523 that the subtleties and progression of his theology are discovered. These fall into three groups: the anti-Catholic polemics (1523–24) against monasticism, papal power, the invocation of the saints, purgatory, etc.; the diatribes against Lutherans and the charge that Zwinglianism was merely transplanted Lutheranism, and against the Anabaptists, with whom he quarreled particularly over the questions of Church and State (1525–27); and the didactic works and confessional statements of his last years (1528–31).
Bibliography: Huldrich Zwinglis Werke, ed. m. schuler and j. schulthess, 8 v. (Zurich 1828–42 with suppl. 1861). Huldrich Zwingtis sämtliche Werke, ed. e. egli et al. in Corpus reformatorum 88–97 (Schriften 1–6; Briefe 7–11). j. v. m. pollet, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant, 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–) 15.2:3745–3928, detailed study and bibliog. g. w. locher, Die Theologie Huldrych Zwinglis im Lichte seiner Christologie, v. 1, Die Gotteslehre (Zurich 1952); "Die Prädestinationslehre Huldrych Zwinglis," Theologische Zeitschrift 12 (Basel 1956) 526–548. j. kreutzer, Zwinglis Lehre von der Obrigkeit (Stuttgart 1909). w. kÖhler, Zwingli und Luther (Leipzig 1924). p. wernle, Der evangelische Glaube nach den Hauptschriften der Reformatoren, 3 v. (Tübingen 1918–19) v.2. a. farner, Die Lehre von Kirche und Staat bei Zwingli (Tübingen 1930). o. farner, Aus Zwinglis Predigten zu Jesaja und Jeremia, unbekannte Nachschriften (Zurich 1957); Aus Zwinglis Predigten zu Mattäus, Markus und Johannes (Zurich 1957). a. rich, Die Anfänge der Theologie Huldrych Zwinglis (Zurich 1949). h. watt, j. hastings, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion & Ethics, 13 v. (Edinburgh 1908–27) 12:873–876. j. rogge, Zwingli und Erasmus (Stuttgart 1962). h. schmid, Zwinglis Lehre von der göttlichen und menschlichen Gerechtigkeit (Zurich 1959). Zwingliana. Beiträge zur Geschichte Zwinglis, der Reformation und des Protestantismus in der Schweiz (Zurich 1897–), esp. the Jubilee years, 1919, 1931. h.a. e. van gelder, The Two Reformations in the 16th Century, tr. j. f. finlay and a. hanham (The Hague 1961). g. w. bromiley, comp., Zwingli und Bullinger (Philadelphia 1953), trs. including Exposition of the Faith. g. w. locher, "The Change in the Understanding of Zwingli in Recent Research," Church History 34 (Philadelphia 1965) 3–24.
[e. d. mcshane]
"Zwinglianism." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/zwinglianism
"Zwinglianism." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/zwinglianism