Ulrich Zwingli's Influence On The Catholic Church

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Ulrich Zwingli, brought up in the Catholic faith and eventually ordained a Catholic priest, would ultimately be influenced by the political and religious forces of his day. These influences would color Zwingli’s views with respect to both pastoral abuses and theological differences prevalent throughout the early 16th century. Where some would see the abuses perpetrated by the clergy and perceived doctrinal flaws as two separate issues, Vidmar believes that Zwingli, “…increasingly saw (pastoral) abuses as resulting from flawed beliefs and structures…” (185) within the dogma of the Catholic Church. In short, he believed all the shortcomings being experienced by the Church had their root cause based in the flawed theology being expounded by…show more content…
As stated by Vidmar, “Zwingli had the idea that anything not expressly permitted by Scripture was sinful” (198). Using this belief as the foundation of all his actions, Zwingli initially sought to do away with clerical celibacy and the practice of Lenten fasting. He had a personal stake in the abolition of celibacy since he had gotten married as a Catholic priest. Soon he began to apply the test of scripture to all things ecclesial. In doing so, he came to the conclusion that very little that the Catholic Church promoted was scripturally based. His actions were denounced by the bishop and Zwingli went on to resign his priestly office. This resignation actually provided him the freedom to implement other changes and reforms. Zwingli was able to persuade the city council of Zurich to pass an ordinance forbidding the preaching of any doctrine or to continue any religious practice that was not mentioned in scripture (McGonigle 9). This brought about the removal of images and icons from the churches. Music, in particular organ music, was no longer to be played, and the Mass, as practiced by the Catholic Church, was abolished and replaced with a service of the Word (Vidmar 197). The Roman Catholic Church would no longer be the ecclesiastical authority, but would be replaced by a…show more content…
Zwingli felt that this was all one needed to know with respect to the cleansing of a person’s sinfulness. He thought it was folly that, “…we were washed clean of our sins by baptismal waters” (28), when in affect, it is the blood of the Lamb that cleanses humanity. Though Zwingli believed that baptism was not a viable method of washing sins away, he did see the act as a means of recognizing membership in the Christian faith and also as a sign of remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As such, he had no problems with infant baptisms. However, this position would cause him to be in conflict with a group of Protestants known as the Anabaptists. They believed that baptisms were only valid when an adult was old enough to recognize the need for conversion. As such they believed that infant baptisms were invalid. Since most Catholics were baptized as infants, those adults who converted, in the eyes of the Anabaptist, would need to be re-baptized for their salvation. Zwingli was a staunch opponent of re-baptizing and was able to convince the Zurich city council to outlaw the act. It is ironic that the punishment for re-baptizing was death by drowning (Vidmar

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