Sixty-Seven Articles of Zwingli (1523)
The “Sixty-Seven Articles” was produced in January 1523 for a public debate in Zurich, Switzerland. The articles were written and assembled by Huldrych (Ulrich) Zwingli (1484–1531), a prominent leader of the Swiss Reformation. The Articles were similar to Luther’s 95 Theses (1517), but while Luther primarily objected to the Roman Church’s sale of indulgences, Zwingli challenged a wide variety of abuses by the church.
After the debate that was attended by a large audience of about six hundred, the council formerly sided with Zwingli, resulting in a powerful launching of the Swiss Reformation, with Zwingli firmly established as its leader.
This version of the Sixty-Seven Articles is taken from the Selected Works of Huldrich Zwingli, the first English translation (from German and Latin originals), ed Samuel Macauley Jackson (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1901). Jackson’s edits are in parenthesis. We have modernized the language somewhat while attempting to retain the original meanings and intentions. We have also added some comments, clarifications, and Scripture references. Our additions are in brackets.
Sixty-Seven Articles of Zwingli
The articles and opinions below, I, Ulrich Zwingli, confess to have preached in the worthy city of Zurich as based upon the Scriptures which are called inspired by God, and I offer to protect and conquer with the said articles, and where I have not now correctly understood said Scriptures, I shall allow myself to be taught better, but only from said Scriptures.
THE GOSPEL, CHRIST, AND THE CHURCH
1. All who say that the Gospel is invalid without the confirmation of the Church errs and blasphemes God [the Gospel stands upon divine rather than human authority].
2. The sum and substance of the Gospel is that our Lord Jesus Christ, the true Son of God, has made known to us the will of his heavenly Father, has redeemed us from eternal death, and has reconciled us to God by his innocence. [Rom 5:10; Col 1:13-14, 19-23; 1Pe 1:18-19]
3. Therefore, Christ is the only way to salvation of all who were, who are now, or who shall be. [Jn 14:6; Ac 4:12]
4. Whoever seeks or points to another door, errs. Indeed, he is a murderer of souls and a thief. [Jn 10:1-10]
5. Therefore, all who consider other teachings as being equal to or higher than the Gospel err, and do not know what the Gospel is. [Gal 1:6-9; 2Cor 11:4]
6. For Jesus Christ is the guide and commander, promised by God and given to all human beings, thus fulfilling the promise.
7. He [Christ] is the eternal salvation and head of all believers, who are his body, but the body is dead and can do nothing apart from Him. [Col 1:17-18; Eph 5:22-25]
8. As a result, all who dwell in the Head [Christ] are members and children of God, and this is the church or communion of the saints, the bride of Christ, the Ecclesia catholica [Latin for Catholic (meaning “universal”, not “Roman”) Church].
9. Furthermore, since the members of the body can do nothing without the control of the Head, no one in the body of Christ can do the least without Christ, the Head. [Jn 15:5]
10. As that man whose limbs attempt to do something without his head is deranged, tearing, wounding, and injuring himself; so are the members of Christ deranged, injuring and burdening themselves with unwise rules and laws whenever they attempt something without Christ, their Head.
11. Thus we see in the so called clerical ordinances, in reference to their splendor, riches, classes, titles, and laws, to be a cause of all foolishness, for they do not agree with the Head.
12. Thus they still rage, not on account of the Head (for that one is eager to bring forth in these times from the grace of God,) but because one will not let them rage, but tries to compel them to listen to the Head.
13. Where the Head is heeded, one clearly and plainly learns the will of God, and man is drawn to Him by his Spirit and changed into Him [his likeness].
14. Therefore all Christian people shall use their best diligence so that the Gospel of Christ will be preached alike everywhere.
15. For in the Faith rests our salvation, and in unbelief our damnation; for all truth is clear in Him.
16. In the Gospel one learns that human doctrines and traditions do not aid in salvation.
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17. Christ is the only eternal high priest, from which it follows that those who have called themselves high priests have opposed and rejected the honor and power of Christ. [Heb 4:14-16, 7:26-27]
18. That Christ, having sacrificed himself once [on the Cross], is an eternal, certain and valid sacrifice for the sins of all believers. Thus, the mass is not a sacrifice, but is a remembrance of the sacrifice and assurance of the salvation which Christ has given to us. [Heb 7:26-27, 9:11-12]
19. Christ is the only mediator between God and us. [1Tim 2:5]
THE INTERCESSION OF THE SAINTS
20. God desires to give us all things in his [Christ] name. Thus, we need no mediator outside of this life except Him. [Praying for the dead is not biblical. Our prayers produce not benefit for someone after he or she has died – Heb 9:27].
21. When we pray for each other on earth, we do so in such a manner that we believe that all things are given to us through Christ alone.
22. Christ is our justification and righteousness. Therefore, our works are good only to the extent that they are of Christ, but in so far as they are ours, they are neither right nor good. [1Cor 1:30-31]
23. Christ abhors the property and pomp of this world. Therefore, those who gather up wealth for themselves in his name slander him terribly when they make him a pretext for their avarice and willfulness. [1Tim 6:1; Misusing God’s name for financial gains, including sale of indulgencies, violates the third commandment – Ex 20:7; Dt 5:11]
24. No Christian is bound to do those things which God has not decreed, therefore one may eat all food at all times, from which one learns that the decree about cheese and butter is a Roman swindle. [Rom 14:1-6]
25. Time and place is under the jurisdiction of Christian people, from which we learn that those who fix time and place deprive Christians of their liberty. [Rom 14:5-6]
26. Nothing is more displeasing to God than hypocrisy. Thus, we learn that all is done for mere show among men is gross hypocrisy and extravagance. Hoods, insignia, plates, etc fall under this condemnation.
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ORDER AND SECTS
27. All Christian men are brothers of Christ and brothers to one another, and shall create no father (for themselves) on earth. Religious orders, sects, brotherhoods, etc fall under this condemnation.
MARRIAGE OF CLERGY
28. All that God has allowed or not forbidden is righteous; therefore marriage is permitted to all human beings.
29. All who are known as clergy sin when they do not protect themselves by marriage after they have become conscious that God has not enabled them to remain chaste. [1Cor 7:36]
VOW OF CHASTITY
30. That those who rashly promise chastity [outside of matrimony] require too much of themselves. From this, we learn that those who make such vows do wrong to devout people.
31. No particular person can impose the ban [excommunication] upon any one. This can only be done by the Church, that is the [full] congregation of those among whom the one to be banned dwells, together with their watchman; that is, the pastor. [Mt 18:15-17; 1Cor 5:4-5]
32. One may ban only the person who gives public offence.
33. Property acquired via unrighteous means shall not be given to temples, monasteries, cathedrals, clergy or nuns, but to the poor and needy, if it cannot be returned to the legal owner.
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33, 34. So-called spiritual authority [of a ranked order] has no justification [or foundation in Scripture] for its fanfare in the teaching of Christ. [Mt 18:1-5; 1Pe 5:1-3]
35. The laity derives power and confirmation from the works and teachings of Christ. [Mk 12:17; Lk 20:25]
36. All power and protection claimed by the priestly authorities actually belongs to the state, as long as they seek to be Christians. [Rom 13:1-7, Ac 5:29]
37, 38. All Christians owe obedience to the state without exception [1Pe 2:13], unless the state commands that which is contrary to God. [Ac 5:27-29]
39. Therefore all their laws shall be in harmony with the divine will, so that they protect the oppressed, even if he does not complain [file a formal complaint or charge].
40. They alone may put to death justly; also, only those who give public offence. [Gen 9:6; Rom 13:4; God has given authority to the state, not to individuals, to administer the death penalty.]
41. If they give good advice and help to those for whom they must give an account to God, then these owe to them bodily assistance. [1Cor 9:1-14]
42. But if they are unfaithful and transgress the laws of Christ they may be deposed in the name of God.
43. In short, the realm of he who rules in the name of God alone is best and most stable, and he who rules in accordance with his own will is worst and most unstable. [Prv 29:2,4]
PRAYER AND WORSHIP
44. Real petitioners [true worshippers] call to God in spirit and truth, without great fanfare before men. [Jn 4:23-24]
45. Hypocrites do their work so that they may be seen by men; also receive their reward in this life. [Mt 6:5-6]
46. Thus loud singing and outcry without devoutness, which is done only for reward, is seeking either fame before men, or gain [material or financial].
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47. A man should prefer to suffer bodily death before he offends or slanders a Christian.
48. Whoever, through foolishness or ignorance, is offended without cause should not be left sick or weak; but he should be made strong, that he may not consider that [the cause of the offence] which is not a sin to be a sin.
49. I know of no greater offence than not allowing priests to have wives, but permitting them to hire prostitutes. The shame!.
REMITTANCE OF SIN
50. God alone remits [forgives] sin through Jesus Christ, his Son, and our only Lord. [Is 43:25; Mk 2:5-12]
51. Who assigns this to created beings [ability to forgive sins] detracts from the honor of God and gives it to him who is not God; this is real idolatry.
52. Therefore, a confession that is made to a priest or neighbor shall not be declared to be a remittance of sin, but only a seeking of advice.
53. Works of penance levied by a counsel of human beings (except excommunication) do not cancel sin; they are imposed as deterrence to others.
54. Christ has borne all our pains and labor. Therefore, whoever assigns to works of penance what belongs to Christ alone, errs and slanders God.
55. Whoever pretends to remit any sin of a penitent being would not be a vicar of God or Saint Peter, but of the devil.
56. Whoever [pretends to] remit any sin in exchange for money is the companion of Simon and Balaam, and the real messenger of the devil personified.
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57. The true divine Scriptures know nothing about [don’t even mention] purgatory after this life.
58, 59. The sentence [spiritual condition and eternal destination] of the dead is known only to God; and the less God has revealed to us concerning it, the less we should attempt to know about it.
60. I do not condemn a person that earnestly calls to God to show mercy to the dead; but to designate a period of time therefore (seven years for a mortal sin), and to lie for the sake of gain, is not human, but devilish.
61. The Scriptures know nothing [don’t even mention] about the form of consecration which the priests have received in recent times.
62. Furthermore, they [the Scriptures] recognize no priests except those who proclaim the Word of God.
63. They [who proclaim the Word of God] command [are worthy of] to be shown honor, and to be furnished with food for the body.
CESSATION OF CORRUPTION
64. All those who recognize their errors shall not be allowed to suffer, but to die in peace; and thereafter to arrange their bequests to the Church in a Christian manner.
65. Those who do not wish to confess, God will deal with accordingly. Thus, no force shall be used against their body, unless they behave in such a criminal manner that one has no other alternative.
66. All the clerical superiors shall humble themselves at once, and with unity, set up the cross of Christ, not the money-chests, or they will perish; for I tell you the ax is raised against the tree.
67. If any one wishes to have a conversation with me concerning interest, tithes, unbaptized children or confirmation, I am willing to answer.
Let no one attempt to argue with deception or human foolishness, but come to the Scriptures to accept them as the judge (for the Scriptures breathe the Spirit of God), so that the truth either may be found, or if found as I hope, also retained. Amen.
Thus may God rule.
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