Whenever I’m offered one of these Bitesize Biographies I jump at the opportunity. They are light reading but enjoyable. I find them a restful interlude between reading thicker books. All of that doesn’t mean they are not quality reading though. I’ve been out of seminary many years, so they help dust the cobwebs off my church figures and history. William Boekestein’s Zwingli biography hit all the notes for why I enjoy this series.
Zwingli is an interesting figure in the Reformation. You don’t hear much about him except his views on the Lord’s Supper and he doesn’t have as large a follow as say a Calvin or a Luther. With that said, I found the section discussing his relationship with Luther most interesting. Some of the same arguments against him made by Luther then I hear now from Lutherans still and often in a similar tone. It also saddens me because the two men who as Boekestein said had much common ground in Christ couldn’t extend grace enough to call the other a brother in Christ.
A few interesting bits from the book. For all of Zwingli’s reforming when he dies his followers spread the rumor that although his body was burned his heart survived the fire unmarred. Interesting from a Reformer who was so careful to remove the “magical” of the Roman Catholic Church from the church at Zurich.
Also, Zwingli teaches us a valuable lesson about mixing religion and politics. It’s a lesson I’m not sure the church has fully learned to this day. We do not battle flesh and blood and Christ doesn’t command us to pick up the sword for the Kingdom, yet how often do find ourselves doing these very things in the name of Christ. If anything Zwingli teaches us careful, moderation in the way we tackle social and political issues. A more thoughtful approach to politics may have extended Zwingli’s life and ministry.
Overall an excellent read for the lay Christian. If you’re a pastor building a solid church library and encouraging your church to read church history / biography, these bitesize biographies are a great place to start.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Mathew B. Sims is the author of A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and a contributor in Make, Mature, Multiply (GCD Books). He completed over forty hours of seminary work at Geneva Reformed Seminary. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship and the project manager for the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Mathew offers freelance editing and book formatting. He is a member at Downtown Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC.