Zwingli Archives: Public Debates
THE FIRST ZURICH DISPUTATION on January 29, 1523, was also the occasion for Zwingli’s making public his 67 points on contention with the Roman church. The Zurich City Council not only accepted Zwingli’s document, but encouraged the pastor to continue with his preaching. Much of Zwingli’s teaching, except about the Eucharist, was an expansion of these points. Thus, they were one of the first attempts at a systematic theology of all life, unlike Luther’s 95 theses which were limited to a few issues. The following are samplings:
1. All who say that the gospel is invalid without the confirmation of the church err and slander God.
2. The sum and substance of the gospel is that our Lord Christ Jesus, the true son of God, has made known to us the will of his heavenly Father, and has with his sinlessness released us from death and reconciled us to God.
3. Hence Christ is the only way to salvation for all who ever were, are and shall be.
4. He who seeks or shows another way errs, and, indeed, he is a murderer of souls and a thief.
5. Hence all who consider other teachings equal to or higher than the gospel err, and do not know what the gospel is.
6. For Christ Jesus is the guide and leader, promised by God to all mankind, which promise was fulfilled.
7. He is eternal salvation and head of all who believe; these are his body, for his own human body is dead. Nothing is of avail without him.
8. From this follows first that all who dwell in the head (i.e. Christ) are members and children of God, forming the church or communion of the saints, which is the bride of Christ, ecclesia catholica.
9. Furthermore, as the members of the body cannot function without the control of the head, so no one in the body of Christ can do anything without its head, Christ.
10. As that man is mad whose limbs (try to) do something without his head, tearing, wounding, injuring himself, so when the members of Christ undertake something without their head, Christ, they are stupid and injure and burden themselves with foolish laws.
13. If anyone wants to hear, he can learn clearly and plainly the will of God, and by his Spirit be drawn to him and become a changed man through him.
14. Therefore all Christian people shall use their best diligence that the gospel of Christ alone be preached everywhere.
15. For in faith rests our salvation, and in unbelief our damnation; for all truth is clear in him.
18. Christ, having sacrificed himself once and for all, is for all eternity a perpetual and acceptable offering for the sins of all believers, from which it follows that the mass is not a sacrifice, but is a commemoration of the sacrifice and assurance of the salvation which Christ has given us.
19. Christ is the only mediator between God and ourselves.
20. God will give us everything in his (Christ’s) name, whence it follows that for our part after this life we need no mediator except him.
35. Whereas the jurisdiction and authority of the secular power is based on the teaching and actions of Christ.
36. All the rights and protection that the so-called spiritual authority claims belong to secular governments provided they are Christian.
37. To them, likewise, all Christians owe obedience without exception.
38. In so far as they do not order that which is contrary to God.
39. Therefore all their laws should be in harmony with the divine will, so that they protect the oppressed, even if these do not complain.
40. They (i.e. governments) alone have the right to exact the death penalty without bringing the wrath of God upon themselves, and then only for those who have offended against public order.
41. If they give good advice and help to those for whom they must account to God, then these owe them material assistance.
42. But if they are unfaithful and transgress the laws of Christ they may be deposed in accordance with God’s will.
49. I know of no greater scandal than that priests are not allowed to take lawful wives but may keep mistresses if they pay a fine.
56. Whoever remits any sin only for the sake of money is the companion of Simon (Magus) and Balaam, and the real messenger of the devil.
57. The true holy scriptures know nothing of purgatory after this life.
58. The fate of the dead is known to God alone.
59. And the less God has let us know concerning it, the less we should endeavour to know about it.
60. I do not reject human prayer to God to show grace to the departed; but to fix a time for this and to lie for the sake of gain is not human but demonic.
67. If anyone wishes to discuss with me concerning interest, tithes, unbaptized children, or confirmation, I am ready to answer.
By the Editors
[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #4 in 1984]
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