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Monergist Reformer: Ulrich Zwingli


The monergism of Ulrich Zwingli:

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Zwingli defined election as “the free disposition of God’s will concerning those who are to be saved.” Thus, God is unconstrained in His choice of whom to save. Zwingli adds, “In the predestination of men to salvation, it is the will of God that is the prime force, but His wisdom, goodness, and righteousness and other attributes assist.” Elsewhere he says, “It is election which saves us, and it is wholly free.” Finally he notes, “Election is a free, sovereign and authoritative disposition of the will of God concerning those who are saved.” . . .

Zwingli taught that the choices God made in eternity past are irreversible. He writes: “God’s election stands fast and remains sure. For those whom He chose before the foundation of the world, He chose in such a manner, that He chose them for Himself through His son.” He adds, “The election of God stands firm and immovable.

. . .

The act of believing does not number a person among the elect, Zwingli said. Long before a person believes, Zwingli contended, he was chosen by God in eternity past. He writes, “Those who are elect from eternity are surely elect before they believe.” The act of believing only reveals that one is a member of God’s elect. In fact, many such elect have not yet believed. Zwingli says, “Many are elect, who do not yet have faith.

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Zwingli had little to say about the extent of Christ’s atonement. However, in one place in his writings he declared that sovereign election is inseparably connected with the death of Christ. He explains, “Election . . . belongs to His goodness to have chosen whom He will, and it belongs to His justice to adopt the elect as His children and to bind them to Himself through His Son, whom He gave for a sacrifice to render satisfaction to divine justice for us.” This is a clear affirmation that the death of Christ was intended to save those who had been chosen by God. Thus, while it was not a major aspect of his teaching, Zwingli apparently held to the doctrine of definite atonement.

. . .

Zwingli also held to the eternal security of the believer. He states, “Faith is so efficacious, prompt and lively a medicine that whoever drinks it is safe and secure.” Though the elect may become temporarily ensnared in sin, Zwingli taught that they remain secure in grace. He says: “Even if one of the elect should fall into such horrible sins as are contrived by the impious and the reprobate; for the elect these are a cause for rising up again, whereas for the reprobate they are a cause for despair.

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Zwingli believed that those who hear and reject the gospel in unbelief are predestined to condemnation. He asserts, “As election is granted to those who are to be saved, one should not speak of election with regard to those who will be lost; the will of God does indeed ordain concerning them, but only to repel, reject and repudiate them, in order that they may be an example of His justice.” Zwingli distinguished between vessels of wrath prepared for destruction and vessels of mercy prepared for life (Rom. 9:22–23). God sovereignly grants mercy to the elect, but justice to the nonelect. He assigned the direct responsibility for unbelief not to God but to the individual sinner. Thus, God remains absolutely just in the eternal destiny of the nonelect.

—Steven J. Lawson, Pillars of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2011), 440–443.



Posted 2018·10·04 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Church History · Monergism · Pillars of Grace · Steve Lawson · Ulrich Zwingli

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