KEYNOTES – SEPTEMBER 2017Key Reformation Leaders: REFORMERS OTHER THAN LUTHERLuther’s 95 Theses struck Europe like a tornado, a tsunami, an earthquake.Society had started bubbling with what we call “the Renaissance”. Politics, education, economics and most other aspects of society were changing.The 95 Theses produced new ideas, leaders, worship, Bible translations, doctrinal opinions and much else in Christian conversation.Many in the Church had wanted traditions and abuses discussed and altered. Now dozens of Reforming leaders spoke up and acted. An amazing number of men Luther’s age (1483-1546) gained influence and followers.A wholly inadequate list of them must include the following:DESIDERIUS ERASMUS (1469-1536) is considered the greatest genius of the Renaissance. He influenced both philosophy and religion. His chief religious work was to establish a reliable Greek version of the New Testament, based on many versions known at that time. Luther used this to translate the Bible into German. The two men corresponded with andrespected each other.ULRICH ZWINGLI (1484-1531), a Priest like Luther and highly educated, agreed with much of Luther’s work. But the two men felt differently on a few key points of Christian teaching. After face-to-face discussions, they went their different ways. Zwingli’s influence was strongest in Switzerland, but his work didn’t endure; he got mixed up in armed warfare and died in battle.WILLIAM TYNDALE (1494-1536) followed the work of John Wycliffe in England. He studied under Luther in Wittenberg for a while. He supported King Henry VIII’s reforms but condemned some of the King’s religious decisions. In spite of his popularity, he was martyred at age 42.MENNO SIMONS (1496-1561) arose as one of many Anabaptist Reformers. The main teaching of this wide-spread movement was adult re-baptism (most people had been baptized in infancy). Other ideas were held by various leaders, such as pacifists and Charismatics. In our day, Amish and Mennonite Christians honor Menno Simons as the founder of their denominations
JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564), an early French Protestant leader, fled to Switzerland during persecutions in his home. From Geneva he provided clear leadership for the scattered followers of Zwingli. A highly educated teacher, he became the spokesman for many known today as
“Reformed” Christians, such as the Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and other denominations.
Within Roman Catholicism there were Reformers, too.
IGNATIUS LOYOLA (1491-1556) and FRANCIS XAVIER (1506-1552) were prominent in this, especially in founding the Jesuit Order.
We do well to remember these and many other Reformers. Yes, we disagree on important points of doctrine. But like Luther, they all spoke of Jesus Christ, Who still saves even us by His grace through faith in Him, our Redeemer and Lord.