Internet Shakespeare Editions


The Zwinglians


Huldreich Zwingli's independent studies of the Scriptures using Erasmus' edition of the Greek text of the New Testament led him also to question Catholic teachings; he too began preaching against monasticism and such Church practices as clerical celibacy and the sale of indulgences. Zwingli went further than Luther in simplifying the liturgy and rejecting all ostentation in worship. His followers whitewashed church walls, destroyed stained glass windows, and replaced gold chalices with wooden cups.

Zwingli's ascetic ideals had a lasting affect on Protestant worship, especially through the influence of the Anabaptists* -- radical Zwinglians who undertook to apply the teachings of the New Testament to every aspect of their lives. They differed from other Protestants in rejecting the doctrine of predestination*.

They were the first to demand of their congregations total abstinence from alcoholic drinks; the first "sect" of the Reformation, Anabaptists were condemned by other Protestants, largely because of the extreme practices (including polygamy) of a deviant few.


  1. Anabaptists (a.k.a Mennonites)

    Their name was given to them by their persecutors (both Protestant and Catholic) as a result of their emphasis on adult baptism, which had been punished by death under the ancient Justinian Code. Adult baptism was preferred because it symbolized voluntary entrance into a congregation. Originally referring to themselves as Brethren or Baptists, they became known as Mennonites in 1545, after their founder, Menno Simons (1496?-1561).

  2. An alternative to materialism

    Like the humanist Erasmus they believed that free will was a necessary prerequisite to be responsible for one's morality. Since a moral life would be impossible in an ordinarily corrupt and materialistic society, Zwinglians established their own communities, in which they shared their goods.

    Luther and predestination.