A new year dawned as the people celebrated the beginning of 1521. This year would find the Reformation in Switzerland facing challenges and triumphs. The beginning of 1521 brought a surprise visit for Zwingli by a young man named Berthold Haller. This brilliant twenty-eight-year-old had already made a name for himself as the preacher at the cathedral of Berne. Haller had gladly accepted Zwingli’s Gospel preaching and looked on him as his spiritual father. Haller was delighted to finally meet his hero.
Zwingli Encourages His Friend Haller
During their time together, Haller confided in Zwingli about the unjust treatment he received from the papist who hated the doctrines he taught. He shared his decision to resign and go to Basle and devote himself to studying Scripture. Wisely, Zwingli pointed Haller’s eyes to heaven’s reward and the young man determined to be faithful to God no matter what the personal cost.
Myconius is Accused
In Lucerne, Zwingli’s friend Myconius was having his own problems. Some of Luther’s books, brought from Germany, were passed from person to person. Luther’s teachings were strange to them and some imagined that demons had written the books. An uproar resulted.
Since Myconius was a newcomer to the town, the people associated Myconius with Luther, although Myconius only preached the Gospel of Christ, and never mentioned the name of Luther except to his most trusted friends. The people cried, “We must burn Luther and the schoolmaster (Myconius).” Sermons were preached against him; he was accused before the Senate of preaching strange doctrines, of being a Lutheran, and of seducing the youth. He was ordered to never read Luther’s writings to his students or even mention his name. Being mistreated like this was hard on Myconius and his family, but his friends encouraged him to stay true to Jesus and leave his life and career in God’s care.
Zwingli’s Studies and Preaching
Meanwhile, in Zurich, Zwingli was busy learning Hebrew. The insights he found in Scripture he shared with his church members on Sunday and also in mid-week services held for the people who came to the marketplace to buy and sell.
Zwingli’s preaching had a deep effect on two young men that he met during 1521 – Henry Bullinger and Gerold Meyer von Knonau. Gerold’s mother, Anna Reinhardt, had been widowed quite young and left to raise one son and two daughters by herself. Zwingli loved youthful Gerold like a son and arranged for him to go to Basle to study.
Fanaticism at Basle
Unfortunately, Basle was going through its own problems. A priest by the name of William Rubli was attacking the doctrines of the mass, purgatory, and praying to saints. While he preached many good things, he also brought a loud, pompous and fanatical element to his ministry. Rather than helping the Reformation, his methods brought condemnation on it. He was soon compelled to leave Basle.
But God had not forgotten Basle. A young man, Wolfgang Wissemberger, was hired as the chaplain of the hospital in Basle. Wolfgang began reading the mass in the German language so the people could understand what was being said. This enraged the priests, but the people supported him since his father was a councillor in Basle and they had known Wolfgang since his childhood. City by city, town by town, Biblical truth was taking root in Switzerland.