ADVERTISING
 
Monday, November 20   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 
 

POLL
'... Christian'
I would define myself as...





SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Will Graham
2
 

10 lesser-known Protestant Reformers (II)

A closer look at Heinrich Bullinger, Theodore Beza, Thomas Cranmer, William Perkins and Conrad Grebel.

FRESH BREEZE AUTHOR Will Graham 14 MAY 2016 10:07 h GMT+1

Contrary to common opinion, there were a lot more Reformers than just Martin Luther, John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli.



Last week we studied five ‘lesser-known’ Protestant leaders from the sixteenth century, honing in upon the Lutherans Philip Melanchthon and Matthias Flacius as well as the Reformed Martin Bucer, John Knox and William Farel. You can access that article by clicking here. In this week’s article, then, we will look at the final five Reformers in this two-part series.



They are the Reformed Heinrich Bullinger and Theodore Beza; the Anglicans Thomas Cranmer and William Perkins; and finally, the Anabaptist, Conrad Grebel.



# 6 Heinrich Bullinger (1504-75), Reformed



Heinrich Bullinger was nothing short of a Scriptural and pastoral giant. Although somewhat reserved, he had a colossal impact upon almost all of Europe’s nascent Protestant communities from as far east as Hungary to as far west as Scotland and England. He is best-known today for two reasons: firstly, for being Ulrich Zwingli’s faithful successor in Zurich; and secondly, for penning the immortal ‘Second Helvetic Confession’ (1566).



Most of Bullinger’s vast literary output stemmed from his expository preaching ministry whilst at Zurich. He preached upon every single book of the Bible over the course of his ministry there which spanned more than forty years. Some estimates reckon Bullinger preached anything between 7,000 and 7,500 times. Writes Steve Lawson: “Bullinger was a tireless preacher.



For the first ten years of his ministry, he preached six or seven times a week. After 1542, he preached twice a week, on Sundays and Fridays”. His preacher’s heart led him to aim at clarity and warmth in the pulpit which won him the affection of many. Not only was he loved by his people, but all of Zurich’s ministers looked up to him as a pastor’s pastor. In fact, even beyond Zurich he was considered as “the common shepherd of all Christian churches”.



Despite tradition seeing in Bullinger a mere replica of Zwingli, it would be true to say that his thought was rather independent of that of his beloved predecessor. Zwingli, to give but one example, was a Supralapsarian whereas Bullinger was most certainly an Infralapsarian. Bullinger was also rather different in temperament, exhibiting a fairly mild spirit in comparison to the brutish attitude of both Zwingli and the men of his generation.



One point of Bullinger’s life which has fallen into oblivion is the story behind the ‘Second Helvetic Confession’. Interestingly enough, the Confession was originally Bullinger’s own personal declaration of faith which he had completed after being infected by the lethal Black Plague in 1564.



Although never quite recovering after his bout with the illness, Bullinger was able to minister faithfully for a further eleven years and his Confession, thanks to the mediation of the Elector of the Palatine Friedrich III, became one of the most important documents of sixteenth century Protestantism. To this day the ‘Second Helvetic Confession’ is still widely-consulted and cited within the Reformed world.



# 7 Theodore Beza (1519-1605), Reformed



With the possible exception of Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562) the only other continental Reformed thinker who could justly be deemed as an intellectual equal of the likes of Zwingli, Bucer, Bullinger and Calvin would be the French exegete, pastor, author, theologian and teacher, Theodore Beza.



Just as Bullinger was handed the unenviable task of filling Zwingli’s shoes, Beza had the nigh on impossible duty of taking over both Calvin’s pulpit and his newly founded Protestant Academy in Geneva following the latter’s death in May 1564.



Nevertheless, against all odds, Beza did a simply breathtaking job at consolidating and expanding Calvin’s rich legacy. For over forty years, Beza held generations of young Evangelicals spellbound at the Academy due to his exegetical mastery of the Scriptures and theological knowhow. However it should be pointed out that he was much more than a mere academic.



Combining his academic place of duty with grassroots church ministry, Beza served as a local preacher and as the leader of ‘The Company of Pastors’ up until 1580. Commenting upon John 21:15 he preached, “It is not only necessary that [a pastor] have general knowledge of his flock but he must also know and call each of his sheep by name, both in public and in their homes, both night and day. Pastors must run after lost sheep, bandaging up the one with a broken leg, strengthening the one that is sick [...] In sum, the pastor must consider his sheep more dear to him than his own life, following the example of the Good Shepherd”.



Beza kept up a European-wide correspondence with the key Reformed leaders throughout the continent. Not surprisingly, he was most closely connected to his native France and thus received a torrent of French refugees in Geneva after the infamous St. Bartholomew’s Massacre which occurred in August 1572. Thousands of French Protestants (Huguenots) had been brutally butchered by their Catholic counterparts.



His influence also went beyond the sphere of the church into the civil realm. Due to his wise words of counsel and diplomatic spirit, the magistrates in Geneva were always willing to lend him a listening ear. The St. Bartholomew’s Massacre led him to publish the significant work ‘Right of Magistrates’ (1574) in which he reasons that, “the magistrates have the duty to resist tyranny, including the tyrannical rule of a legitimately enthroned monarch” (Richard Muller). In this sense, Beza went a step beyond Calvin’s more conservatively-minded political thought.



He stayed put in Geneva until he went home on 13th October 1605 at the ripe old age of 86.



# 8 Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), Anglican



Continental Europe was not the only place to be struck by the insights of the Reformation. As we saw last week, Scotland experienced a Presbyterian revival via the powerful preaching ministry of John Knox (c. 1513-72). Down in England, however, a distinctive brand of Protestantism known as Anglicanism came into being once the English Parliament proclaimed King Henry VIII (1491-1547) to be the true Head of the Church of England by means of the groundbreaking 1534 ‘Act of Supremacy’.



The English Reformation, then, was not sparked off so much by a concern for doctrinal matters (as in Germany under Luther) or by affairs of church worship (as in Switzerland under Zwingli), but by political issues. To cut a long story short, Henry wanted to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536).



Pope Clement VII was having none of it. So the King decided to set up a new church independent from Rome. Henry’s first Archbishop of Canterbury (the religious leader of the Church of England) was chosen to be Thomas Cranmer.



Although Cranmer has gone down in history as Henry’s cowardly ‘yes-man’, he did indeed play quite a significant part in reforming the Anglican Church. Not only did he publish the first authorized church service in English –‘The Exhortation and Litany’ (1534) - but he also drew up the first two editions of the oft-quoted ‘Book of Common Prayer’ (in 1549 and 1552) which incorporated some of the key thoughts from continental Protestantism thanks to the help of Martin Bucer (then at Cambridge) and Peter Martyr Vermigli (at Oxford). The Anglican ‘Thirty-Nine Articles’ (first published under the direction of Matthew Parker in 1563 and finalized in 1571) were also greatly dependent upon Cranmer’s doctrine.



Cranmer’s ministry was sadly cut short by martyrdom once Henry and Catherine’s angry pro-Roman daughter Mary ascended to the throne. Cranmer lost his post and was sentenced to death. In the words of Reformation expert Michael Reeves, “The old archbishop and architect of so much of the English Reformation, now nearly seventy, had, under extreme duress, renounced his Protestantism. It was a triumph for Mary’s reign.



Despite his recantation, however, he was such an embodiment of the Reformation that it was decided he should be burned in any case. It was a decision that would more than undo Mary’s victory, for when the day came, Cranmer refused to read out his recantation. Instead he stated boldly that he was indeed a Protestant, though a cowardly one for forsaking his principles”.



“In consequence he announced, ‘for as much as my hand offended, writing contrary to my heart, my hand shall first be punished there-for’. He was true to his word: as the fires were lit, he held out the hand that had signed his recantation so that it might burn first. Having briefly denied his Protestantism, Cranmer thus burned with movingly defiant bravery, and so died the first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury”.1



The date was 21st March, 1556.



# 9 William Perkins (1558-1602), Mainline Puritan



The Puritan movement felt that the Reformation in England had not gone deep enough. It was the powerful Anglican preacher William Perkins who exercised the most powerful influence upon the early generations of non-conformist Puritans, although he himself never left the Church of England.



In spite of his untimely death at forty-four, Perkin’s writings encouraged the Puritans to become more consciously reformed (in the Swiss sense) and not to remain content with the nominal Protestantism which flourished under Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603). Perkins, for instance, popularized the thought of the aforementioned Theodore Beza in England and ignited a passion for the centrality of the pulpit in Christian worship.



One tome wherein Perkins’ love for the ministry of the Word can be sensed is his 1592 work upon ‘The Art of Prophesying’ (or in contemporary terms ‘The Art of Preaching’). As far as Perkins was concerned, the chief characteristic of any minister is the preaching of the Word. He writes in the preface to the book, “So, if anyone asks which spiritual gift is the most excellent, undoubtedly the prize must be given to prophesy”.



Perkins was convinced that a Gospel preacher had to aim at clarity and simplicity whilst in the pulpit and thus was resolutely opposed to the flowery preaching of his age which majored upon human wisdom and wit.



His Scripture-saturated ministry and books bore fruit in the lives of many of his theological students among whom appear the names of William Ames (1576-1633), the renowned Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) and the Archbishop of Armagh, James Ussher (1581-1656).



#10 Conrad Grebel (1498-1526), Anabaptist



Our survey of lesser-known Protestant Reformers would not be complete without mentioning at least one Anabaptist thinker. In stark contrast to the Magisterial Reformation (Lutherans, Reformed and Anglicans) which took the presence of the State with utmost seriousness; the Anabaptists wanted to break off from all earthly ties and denounce any type of cooperation between state and church. Ecclesiastically speaking, they also decried infant baptism as invalid given that the baptized person had to know what he (or she) was doing.



Conrad Grebel (1498-1526) was one such preacher. ‘The Father of the Anabaptists’ had actually been led to faith in Christ thanks to Zwingli’s ministry in 1522; nevertheless, the following year he began to feel that his pastor was not carrying out a full-blown reform at his church at Zurich, especially due to Zwingli’s willingness to compromise with the State over the question of abolishing the Mass.



Two years later, Zwingli and Grebel met for a final showdown. They were to debate publically upon the controversial theme of infant baptism. After the debate, Zurich’s authorities officially endorsed Zwingli’s stance, so Grebel and his faithful followers decided to leave Zurich in order to preach their newfound faith, baptizing men and women who responded to their Gospel preaching. From that moment on, Anabaptism (which literally means ‘rebaptism’ or ‘baptism again’) was to become an independent movement, separate from the Swiss Reformation.



As can be imagined, the civil authorities were incensed at Grebel’s re-baptizing antics. Therefore all of the Anabaptist preachers were sentenced to death by drowning. Grebel’s close friend Felix Mantz was the first to die in January 1527.



Grebel himself had been arrested in October 1525 and handed a life-sentence, however, his friends helped him to escape some five months later. But all to no avail. The young Grebel was to be struck down by the plague that very summer. Notwithstanding his relative youth, Grebel was to prove instrumental in the development of a Protestant alternative to the mainline thought of Luther, Zwingli and Bullinger.




1 REEVES, Michael, The Unquenchable Flame: Introducing the Reformation (IVP: Nottingham, 2009), p. 132.



 



 


POLL
2017
Should evangelical Christians celebrate the Protestant Reformation?





SEE MORE POLLS
 
 


2
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 

Sergio
14/05/2016
10:52 h
1
 
Thank you for this closer look to lesser-known reformers, but I think you should add one important name: Pietro Martire Vermigli (1499-1562). He cannot be less important than Grebel, mainly for the "international dimension" of his contribute. He was exiliated from Italy for his faith and lived in Oxford, Strasbourg, Basel, Zurich, teaching and helping Reformation to grow up in the whole Europe
 
Replying to Sergio

Will Graham
15/05/2016
20:09 h
2
 
Thanks for your input, Sergio. I was thinking long and hard about including Martyr (in fact, I mention him in the article), but I didn't want to finish the series without including at least one Anabaptist. That's why I opted for Grebel. I had already included various Reformed figures in my study, that's why I didn't include him. But again, thanks for your comment. Soli Deo gloria. WG
 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - 10 lesser-known Protestant Reformers (II)
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation

Pastor Gary Wilkerson talks about what all evangelical Christians can learn from the Protestant Reformation and underlines the need for more churches with both a sound doctrine and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

 
Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe

Is the arrival of thousands of Muslims to Europe a threat to Christianity? What is the growth of evangelical churches in Eastern and Southern Europe? An interview with theologian and Lausanne Movement representative Lindsay Brown.

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch

Author and international speaker Dr Pablo Martínez discusses the main challenges in Europe nowadays and hopes Evangelical Focus will be a useful tool to help build bridges between churches and society.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Lausanne younger leaders gathering in Budapest Lausanne younger leaders gathering in Budapest

About 70 people from European countries met at the Younger Leaders Gen gathering in Hungary (19-22 October) to discuss the challenges of the church in the continent and build partnerships. Photos: Evi Rodemann and Jari Sippola.

 
I am not on sale I am not on sale

Young Christians gathered at Madrid’s central square Sol to denounce human trafficking. A flashmob highlighted the work of three evangelical NGOs which support women who escape sexual slavery in Spain.

 
Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

 
‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country ‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country

Bilbao hosted the Spanish Evangelical Alliance's annual meeting (assembly). Politicians, professors and evangelical representatives shared views on social reconciliation. The theme was also analysed from a theological perspective and in workshops. 

 
The Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible The Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi spoke about how the biblical worldview shaped the West. 300 professionals attended annual GBG meeting on faith and work in Cullera (Spain). Photos: J.P. Serrano, S. Vera.

 
Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016 Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016

Around 1,000 young Christian leaders from 150 countries are participating in the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering, to reflect on global mission.

 
VIDEO Video
 
Creation Care and the Gospel, in France Creation Care and the Gospel, in France

The conference drew about 90 delegates from across Europe. Scientists, theologians, activists reflected together on the theme “God’s Word and God’s World”.

 
“It is inconsistent to say we love the Creator while we destroy His creation” “It is inconsistent to say we love the Creator while we destroy His creation”

In creation care, “we need more people who lead by example”, says well-known Brazilian politician and activist Marina Silva. 

 
Human traffickers recruit girls and boys online Human traffickers recruit girls and boys online

The new video of the European Freedom Network addresses the dangers of social media. 

 
“Remember you are dust” “Remember you are dust”

Vaughan Roberts speaks from 25 years of ministry experience to share four lessons on staying the course as a Christian, despite ongoing battles with the world, the flesh, and the devil.

 
Walk Walk

A two-minute video on the meaning of Jude 24.

 
Playmobil animation on Luther’s life Playmobil animation on Luther’s life

British video platform GoChatter uses 4,000 individual photos to create stop motion video on Martin Luther's life.

 
Individualism: from the Protestant Reformation to 21st century capitalism Individualism: from the Protestant Reformation to 21st century capitalism

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi on how the Protestant Reformation underlined individualism as a means to please God, and how secular Europe corrupted it.

 
Students in Europe: “We are present” Students in Europe: “We are present”

A summary video of the IFES Europe conference which brought together 1,700 students from many countries in Aschaffenburg (Germany) to reflect on God's mission in society.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.