My friend Bill Boekestein, has provided a vital resource in his new volume on Reformed theologian, Ulrich Zwingli in Evangelical Press’s, Bitesize Biographies series. Today, Zwingli, if he is known at all, is known purely for his view of the presence of the Lord in Communion, and nothing more. Yet, there is much more to the man and to his legacy for Christians today. Boekestein fills this lacunae in providing us a relatively brief, yet lucid description of his life and legacy for the average Christian.
Zwingli (1484-1531) was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland, not only theologically, but practically in battle (in which he died) as Zwingli’s Reformation alliance fought those supporting the Roman Catholic Church. Part of his legacy, Boekestein notes one of the legacies from Zwingli was the move on Bullinger’s part (he followed Zwingli in his pulpit following his death) was to denounce formal involvement between the state and the church.
His greatest legacy, perhaps, is his efforts to Reform the church over and above any of his lasting theological legacies. Although, the controversy over the real presence of Christ in the Lord’s Table, wherein Zwingli and Luther could come to no accord at the Marburg Colloquy, is informative of how churches sought to be unified and yet, issues that seem unimportant to many Christians today, where, and are, quite significant still today. Many churches hold to more “memorial” approaches to the Lord’s Supper (although half-teasingly those churches are said to be more Zwinglian than Zwingli was), and should see Zwingli’s influence then in that area. While Zwingli’s approach did not become the majority position among Reformed churches (Calvin’s spiritual presence view is the most common), Zwingli still bears importance for today.
It’s important to know about God’s servants, and Boekestein admirably introduces a new generation to this hero of the Reformation and how his love for the pure church of God, should continue to influence us today. So, take up and read, and see how God’s choice servant of the past can continue to have meaning for us in the church today.