Zwingli’s character is the hardest to figure out. Many see Zwingli as a variant or deviant from Martin Luther; yet viewed as a student of humanism who departed from Erasmus; and further still the one who set up events for Calvin as Zurich flowed directly into Geneva (Aland 96; Stephens 1). He is best viewed as a reformer, patriot, rejecter of scholastic theology and a humanist (Stephens 12). He loved the classics and took delight in the literature and philosophy of Ancient Greece (Stephens 15). He saw both Luther and Erasmus as lifted up by God. With Erasmus he shared a Platonist view of body and soul, a Biblical and Christ-centered faith, valued inward piety, yet disagreed on issues of the sovereignty of God and the freedom of the will (Stephens 17). Luther he saw as articulating beliefs that he already had and noted that both Luther and Erasmus played their part in learning what true religion was (Stephens 21).
He was a scholar, musician, orator, loving father and husband, he had no personal ambition, he lacks Calvin’s mind and vanity, and is more conscious of social obligation than Luther (Potter 418). He was a man of action, what he learned from his studies he used. He was always approachable, ready to help, and constantly encouraging. He is best defined as fearless, self-confident, and self-reliant (Potter 417). His reputation as a stern, stolid reformer is counterbalanced by the fact that he had an excellent sense of humor and used satiric fables, spoofing, and puns in his writings. (Schmidt-Clausing ix) He was more conscious of social obligations than Luther and he genuinely believed that the masses would accept a government guided by God’s word and this belief led him to tirelessly promoted assistance to the poor.
I will portray Zwingli as a smart yet fiery blend. He has Erasmus’ wit (and sometimes charm) and Luther’s boisterousness. A running joke will be the view of Zwingli as an iconoclast as he will be constantly trying to smash windows and take down art. He will be opinionated yet flexible. The modern equivalent would be a Lewis Black or Stephen Colbert.