The Swiss Reformation





Document Type

Book Chapter


DOI: 10.4324/9781315537627-26


The Reformation in Switzerland was led by Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin. In the sixteenth century, the Swiss Confederation, the precursor to modern-day Switzerland, was composed of 13 independent cantons without a central governing authority or a common language. Calvin ends the Institutes of the Christian Religion by distinguishing between spiritual and civil government and declaring that both are given by God. The purpose of civil government is to protect the church and true religion while keeping peace among sinful humans. The spread of Calvinism had major implications for the development of modern Western society. Calvin’s influence on the development of representative democracy is also a major topic of discussion and debate. Calvin’s most direct legacy can be found in the many Reformed denominations that look to his theology for inspiration and guidance. The Reformed movement began with Ulrich Zwingli and continued under the able leadership of Heinrich Bullinger, his successor in Zurich.

Published in

The Christian Theological Tradition, 4th ed.

Citation/Other Information

Jordon, Sherry E. “The Swiss Reformation.” In The Christian Theological Tradition, 366–374. 4th ed. Routledge, 2020.

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