Saturday, March 12, 2005

Forgotten Reformers

I have been recently getting lost in reading the primary sources of the Reformation. No, not Calvin, or Luther, or even Knox, but those other guys, the ones that are usually just footnotes in some seminary class. One often gets the impression that Luther, Calvin and Knox pulled off the Reformation single handed, or at least through their great influence. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to run down Calvin and the lot, but there are a lot of other leaders out there that don’t get much attention. These men too helped shape the world.
Over the last month I have gotten my first book by Peter Martyr Vermigli, which is Predestination and Justification. A fantastic book. Vermigli doesn’t pull any punches, and answers objections that one can still find lingering today. I also just received The Decades of Henry Bullinger. These were 50 sermons, designed for publication, published in groups of 10. I have not had the chance to read very much in this yet, so I should withhold judgment. One thing struck me as I have pursued this book and the Vermigli book. It is how much these men quote from the early church fathers. Glancing back at Calvin’s Institutes, he takes great care to do the same. These men who led the Reformation were not trying to take the church to a new phase of development or invent some new church, they were trying to bring it back to the early years. They take great pains to show that the history of the church lies not with the Romanists, no matter what they claim, it lies with the Reformed.
I guess the last point I want to make is that today we need to reclaim the spirit of the Reformation. That is not done by looking for great men like Calvin and Luther to come lead us. Instead, scholarly pastors preaching the word of God all over do it. Sure great men can be found among them, but the Reformation was not limited to them. There are those who did much, but now receive little fame, or are even forgotten by history completely. The spirit of the Reformation is more than just the legacy of a few, it is the legacy of the church. When the church preaches the truth boldly about her savior, then the world will change, the heathen will repent, and the gates of hell cannot stand before her. May everyone have a blessed Lord’s Day.


Jeremy said...

Pierre Viret is one such reformer, recently discussed on the Greenville Seminary podcast at