The purpose of this essay is to discuss the significant theological differences that occurred between Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin. To gain a greater understanding of their theological differences it must first be discovered who these prominent men were. Once this is achieved why they longed for reformation will be discovered. In doing so many similarities in what they were trying to bring in the form of reform will be shown. After this a detailed understanding of their major 33differences will be shown. It will be discovered that these differences occur around the understanding of the Eucharist. This will lead ultimately to the discovery of their major theological differences. MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546)
Martin Luther was one of the most influential men of the German reformation. Luther began his education at Magdeburg soon followed by Eisenbach ending up in the Erfurt University (1501-1505). He was a son of a miner at Mansfield in Saxony but it was his studies in the arts that he was influenced by men like Jodocus Trutvetter and Bartholomäus Arnoldi of Usingen (well known nominalist). In 1505 he entered the monastery and was soon ordained priest in 1507. The following year he became a professor in the faculty of arts at the University of Wittenberg. In 1510 he was sent to Rome and back to Wittenberg in 1511. With the support of his superior Johannes von Staupitz he became a doctor of theology and a professor of biblical exegesis in the faculty of theology. He would hold this position for the rest of his life. In 1515 he was put in charge of 11 monasteries in which he was vicar.
Luther became troubled in his monastic life. From the outside Luther looked like he had it all together. He was a good monk. But his troubles began inwardly by his conviction of sin that he could not fulfil with his painful monastery life.Luther had a deep love for God that flowed through his monastic life. No matter how much he served God he felt he came up short every time. He continued to search the scriptures of the bible. The discovery that Luther made that the righteous shall live by faith in Romans 1:17 would change him forever. Luther hated the idea that God is righteous and punishes the sinner. As Luther began to look at the Catholic Church in particular the sacraments he became frustrated at their teachings. He started to understand that salvation did not come through righteous belief in the sacraments but by faith. Faith became no longer a church teaching but one that each individual could obtain through Gods grace on their own. One could trust in the promise of the grace of God and not the churches. There became no need in Luther’s mind to ask a Priest for forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness could come by faith in God alone. A revolution began in Luther’s heart that would soon be played out in all Europe. ULRICH ZWINGLI (1484-1531)
Ulrich Zwingli was well renowned as a Swiss reformer. His education began in Berne followed by Vienna and finished in Basle in 1506. After his education he was ordained as a Priest in 1506. He then became a Pastor at Glarus till 1516. It was at Glarus that his humanistic studies grew. He also studied in Greek and rudimentary studies of Hebrew. He served as a military chaplain for the Swizz mercenaries. In 1516 he left Glarus to Einisiedeln. On 11th December 1518 he was elected the People’s preacher at the old minister in Zurich where he remained for the rest his life.
Zwingli was changed for the rest of his life after 1518. Being to the point of death due to the outbreak of the plague Zwingli persuaded the city council to use the scripture as the only source for judging religious issues. This bought changes radically between 1522 and 1525. In 1523 the city broke the diocese of Constance and adopted Zwingli’s sixty seven articles. This led to the dissolving of monasteries, simplifying church...