After reading this article you will learn about the political ideas of Ulrich Zwingli.
The all-pervasive corruption and the political ambition of church spread to Switzerland. During the 15th century, Swiss reformers started agitation against the church and the leadership was given by Ulrich Zwingli.
Ulrich Zwingli claimed that his reform was independent of Luther’s, that he had been teaching reforming doctrines even before he had heard of Luther. But historians do not agree with this lofty claim of Zwingli.
His humanism and radical ideas are more advanced than those of Luther; Zwingli’s writings reveal that he was more interested in politics than in theology. He started the Reformation movement for the furtherance of welfare objectives of state.
Ulrich Zwingli thought that the church was an invisible organization of saints and for this reason it could not remove indiscipline and irreligious activities. This could be done only by the secular authority.
The church should be concerned only with the inward affairs of Christians and external matters should be dealt with by the civil government. The Zwinglian system, observes Dunning, thus blended state and church in a single organisation.
Ulrich Zwingli was out and out a nationalist and democrat. Zwingli’s democratic and patriotic feeling injected aggressiveness into the Reformation movement. Because of his movements, democratic government was established in Zurich and many other cantons of Switzerland.
The political and social atmospheres of Switzerland were different from those of other European countries and this difference led Ulrich Zwingli to launch a different movement. He advised the Christians to cooperate with the secular authority to strengthen the tradition of Switzerland.
Gettel commenting on Zwingli’s political ideas, writes “A democratic state imbued with social spirit of primitive Christianity was Zwingli’s political ideal”.
Like Luther and Melanchthon he propagated the doctrine of passive obedience on the part of the subjects and the toleration of difference in belief only so far as the teachings of the scriptures were not contravened. To disobey the secular ruler is to disobey God.
“Zwingli sympathized with the quest for reform by cool ridicule. He had more wit, more philosophy, more learning, less profundity, less religious sense than Luther. His desire to reform the church was a little more likes the desire of the humanist who hated inefficiency and obscurantism.”
Ulrich Zwingli lost his life in an attempt to prevent the Catholic cantons from enforcing their views of the scriptures upon adherents of the reformed faith.