Jacobus Arminius

Biographical Sketch on Jacobus Arminius

(Jacob Hermansen)

by Daniel Hollenbeck, Biola University

Summary of life
October 10 1559-October 19 1609

  • Born on October 10, 1559(60?) in Oudewater, Utrecht, Holland.
  • His father died a few years after he was born, leaving his mother a widow with three small children.
  • Theodorus Aemilius brought Jacob under his wing and taught him until he was old enough to go to school, at which point he sent the boy to Utrecht for deeper instruction in 1570.
  • Aemilius dies in 1574 and another friend comes to aid his education, Rudolphus Snellius, who would soon become a professor at the University of Leiden in Marburg.
  • Sometime around the beginning of his studies his town is overrun by the Spanish who lay waste to it. Jacob returns to his town to see that his mother, brother, and sister are among the massacred.
  • Snellius invites Jacob to study at Leiden, whose university had only opened the year previous, and Jacob readily accepts.
  • He studies there for six years, starting as a liberal arts student which opens the door to study theology where he would make his greatest mark.
  • In early 1582 Jacob is given a grant from the Amsterdam merchant guild, provided he promises to lead the church in Amsterdam after he had finished school, and leaves to finish his studies under Theodore Beza in Geneva. Later in 1582 he headed to Basel for three years to study on his own but heads back to Geneva again.
  • Back in Geneva he meets Johannes Wtenbogaert who would be a great ally in his future discussions.
  • He takes some time off to go to Italy to study in Padua.
  • Jacob clearly had good relations with Beza who writes back to the Amsterdam merchant guild, “God has gifted him with an apt intellect both as respects the appreciation and the discrimination of things. If this henceforward be regulated by piety, … it cannot but happen that this power of intellect, … will be productive to the richest fruits.”[1]
  • In 1588 he finishes his schooling and heads back to Amsterdam to fulfill his promise. Two years later he marries Lijsbet Reael in 1590.
  • 1589: The Ecclesiastical Senate of Amsterdam asks Jacob to refute the teachings of Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert, an outspoken opponent to Calvin’s predestination, justification, and capital punishment of heretics.
  • He becomes known as a good preacher and a faithful pastor to his congregation.
  • 1603 he becomes a professor of theology at Leiden and holds the office until the time of his death in 1609.
  • 1604 begins a series of debates and public instances with Goramus. He had been at Leiden since 1594 and was described as “a rather mediocre scholar” but “a forceful defender of the Calvinist doctrine”.
  • These debates quickly escalated until there was a definite split between the professors and theologians with some remaining with Calvin’s theology and others turning and siding with Jacob.

 Influence and recognition

  • Obviously there would be no Arminian without Aemilius and Snellius. The former took the poor widow’s son and gave him an education that would have been too far to reach given the tragedy that befell his family. The latter furthered that education which led him to meet many important theologians and even got him an apprenticeship under Beza.
  • Johann Kolmann was another one of Jacob’s teachers at Leiden and he believed and taught “high Calvinism made God both a tyrant and an executioner”.[2]
  • Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert, who Jacob was asked to refute in 1589, actually led him to consider well the topic at hand. After short consideration, Jacob found that DVC was right in his summation but he would not submit a formal written work until he had more time to consult the Scriptures, early church fathers, and other divines.
  • From this study and subsequent teachings, Jacob adopted the theology that bears his name to this day.
  • To come up with a theological point that goes directly against someone else’s views, that someone had to have had a large impact on your life. Not only did Jacob eventually come out against Calvinism, but he was raised in a Calvinist society. All but a few of his teachers were hardcore Calvinists and he even taught and preached with a Calvinist leaning until the last decade of his life.
  • The entirety of theological stances that would become Arminianism would not fully come together until after his death. In 1610, only a year after his death, the “Five Articles of Remonstrance” was originally articulated. This was not a work of one or two of Jacob’s students, but rather 45 ministers who turned it in to the State General of the Netherlands for inspection. These men and their followers became known as Remonstrators. This treatise on Arminianism, like its counterpart Calvinism, has five points
    1. God wished to reconcile all men unto himself and therefore sent Jesus Christ his son to die and three days later raised him up that whosoever believes in him will have eternal life. This means that anyone who believes in Jesus, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, will have eternal life. Conversely, anyone who does not put their faith in Jesus will be condemned on the day of judgment. (John 3:36)
    2. Jesus Christ’s death was a once and for all sacrifice for all men, for all time. However, this forgiveness can only be enjoyed by the believer. (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2)
    3. Since the fall man has been subjected to futility and cannot, without aid from the Holy Spirit, do, think, or will anything good. Only after being born again in Christ’s baptism can we act in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. (John 15:5)
    4. Only through God’s initial grace can we begin to do, think, or will anything good, and through his continued grace can we continue these things, yet this grace can be rejected. (Acts 7)
    5. There is continued grace and persistent leading of the Holy Spirit so that no Christian should be led astray except through their own changing of direction. The power of God’s grace is such that no plans of man or Satan could ever be able to take the believer out of the hand of God. (John 10:28) Whether or not someone can permanently leave their faith, walk back into their life of darkness, and fall from grace is not yet known from the Scriptures.
  • Less than a decade after the ministers formed the Remonstrance, a multinational Synod of Dort was convened to determine whether or not Jacob’s teachings and, by extension, these ministers and their teachings were heretical or not. The Synod agreed unanimously that these teachings could not be reconciled with Scripture and these were deemed heretical by the state church. Not only that, the 13 ministers that were the spokesmen for the others were told to abstain from ministerial activities such as preaching, exhorting, administering the sacraments, and visiting the sick. Furthermore, Episcopius was commanded not to write letters or books promoting the doctrines of the Remonstrants.


  • Being a full time pastor for over a decade and speaking twice a week means that most of Jacob’s works are sermons that have been lost.
  • Apart from sermons he mostly wrote treatises, articles, and letters which he probably never thought anyone would read besides the recipient. A large portion of his works that provide much insight into his life are his public disputations and discussions with others. These were not written by him but rather taken down by listeners at these discussions.
  • Major work: His most famous work is his Declaration of Sentiments which covers all that he knew and believed about predestination and his arguments against it. He not only says that the Calvinist interpretation of predestination is wrong, it is also against the Scripture and the Gospel.
    Originally written in Dutch
  • Gunter, W. Stephen. Arminius and his Declaration of sentiments: an annotated translation with introduction and theological commentary. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2012.

Secondary Sources

Arminius, Jacobus. Arminius speaks: essential writings on predestination, free will, and the nature of God. Edited by John D. Wagner. Eugene, Or.: Wipf & Stock, 2011.

Boer, William Den., and Albert Gootjes. God’s twofold love: the theology of Jacob Arminius (1559-1609). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2010.

Brian, Rustin E. Jacob Arminius: the man from oudewater. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2015.

Leeuwen, Theodoor Marius van, Keith D. Stanglin, and Marijke Tolsma. Arminius, Arminianism, and Europe: Jacobus Arminius (1559-60-1609). Leiden: Brill, 2009.

Nichols, James, and W. R. Bagnall, trans. The writings of James Arminius. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1956.

Stanglin, Keith D. The missing public disputations of Jacobus Arminius: introduction, text, and notes. Leiden: Brill, 2010.


Arminius, Jacobus. Arminius speaks: essential writings on predestination, free will, and the nature of God. Edited by John D. Wagner. Eugene, Or.: Wipf & Stock, 2011.

Boer, William Den., and Albert Gootjes. God’s twofold love: the theology of Jacob Arminius (1559-1609). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2010.

Brian, Rustin E. Jacob Arminius: the man from oudewater. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2015.

Gunter, W. Stephen. Arminius and his Declaration of sentiments: an annotated translation with introduction and theological commentary. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2012.

Leeuwen, Theodoor Marius van, Keith D. Stanglin, and Marijke Tolsma. Arminius, Arminianism, and Europe: Jacobus Arminius (1559-60-1609). Leiden: Brill, 2009.

Nichols, James, and W. R. Bagnall, trans. The writings of James Arminius. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1956.

Stanglin, Keith D. The missing public disputations of Jacobus Arminius: introduction, text, and notes. Leiden: Brill, 2010.

End Notes

[1] Leeuwen, Theodoor Marius van, Keith D. Stanglin, and Marijke Tolsma. Arminius, Arminianism, and Europe: Jacobus Arminius (1559-60-1609). Leiden: Brill, 2009.

[2] Arminius, Jacobus. Arminius speaks: essential writings on predestination, free will, and the nature of God. Edited by John D. Wagner. Eugene, Or.: Wipf & Stock, 2011.


Theodore Beza: Super Calvinist

Biographical Sketch of Theodore Beza


by Lindsey Lamay


Summary of Life:

Early Life/Pre-Conversion

He was born on June 24, 1519 in France to Pierre de Beze (the royal governor of Vezelay) and Marie Bourdelot

He was the youngest of 7 kids.

1522: His mother dies and he goes to live with his rich uncle in Paris ( he was three years old).

1528: He is sent to study under Melchior Wolmar in Orleans.

1539: Graduates at the age of 20 from the University of Orleans with a degree in law and moves to Paris, surrounding himself with humanists.

1544: He was secretly married to Claudine Denosse because of her lower class

Life as a Christian

1548: Juvenilia is published.

Beza fell ill and was close to death. It is in light of this peril that he recognized his spiritual depravity and was converted to faith in Christ. While he was still recovering, he packed up his life and moved to Geneva with Claudine so that he could openly profess his faith. It is here that he openly acknowledged his marriage to Claudine.

1549: He became a professor of Greek at the Lausanne academy

Beza spent several years utilizing his high position to defend the Protestant movement and those who were being persecuted because of their Protestant faith.

1558: Beza resigns his position at Lausanne and returns to Geneva to assume the position of Greek professor at the academy which Calvin had founded in Geneva.

1559: He went to Heidelberg to defend the Huguenots (members of the French Reformed Church)

He also defended Calvin against Joachim Westphal.

1562-1563: A war began between The Prince of Conde and the Duke of Guise during which Beza was the almoner and treasurer of the Huguenot army for seven months.

1564: Calvin died and Beza preached his funeral sermon.

Beza became the moderator of the Company of Pastors in Geneva, assumed the chair of theology at the academy, after the death of Calvin.

1572: Throughout France there was a massacre of Protestants. They began to seek refuge in Geneva and Beza welcomed them with open arms.

1586: A conference is held at Montbeliard to try and reconcile differences between the Lutherans and the Calvinists. Here Beza clearly articulated the Calvinist position and though he reached out to the Lutheran delegate, Andrea, his gesture was rejected and the tension between the two parties remained unresolved.

He gives up his daily preaching and only preached once a week until 1600.

1588: Claudine dies

Beza debated the Lutheran representative Samuel Huber at the Bern Colloquy. Beza won the debate.

1595: Beza resigns his post as a professor at the academy.

He began to lose his hearing and memory.

1600: He rendered his last services to the Academy and preached his last sermon. It was the only sermon to be preached in the seventeenth century by a sixteenth century reformer.

Beza died on October 13, 1605 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Influence and Recognition:

Influenced by:

  • Melchior Wolmar was a humanist who taught Beza during his childhood before Beza’s father made him go off to law school. Wolmar became involved in the reformed movement and was responsible for teaching Beza Greek and Latin and educating Beza in the reformed beliefs. At the time, Beza rejected the theology of the reformation because he refused to give up Catholicism, but he later acknowledged how foundational Wolmar’s teaching was in his salvation process. Beza dedicated his writing stating the grounds for his faith to Wolmar. Wolmar also taught John Calvin in Calvin’s young adulthood.
  • John Calvin: Beza adopted Calvin’s theology and was and advocate for it until his death. Beza even expounded upon some of Calvin’s doctrines. He was Calvin’s understudy and successor. The affection shared between these two men is sometimes equated to the love between Paul and Timothy.
  • Latin poets


  • Beza’s editions of the Bible were used by the King James’ revisers.
  • William Perkins, a theologian from Cambridge.

Key Theological Ideas:

  • Supralapsarianism is the belief that God ordained that some people be predestined salvation and the rest to damnation before Adam and Eve fell and that the fall was ordained by God.
  • He would not budge on Calvin’s view if the Lord’s Supper or baptism.
  • He polished Calvin’s view of the Lord’s Supper by arguing that the bread and wine should be considered in their relation to Christ’s flesh and blood.

Known for:

  • Being John Calvin’s successor in Geneva
  • Teaching Calvin’s theology clearly and expounding upon it. Some believe that he took Calvin’s beliefs too far.
  • Being an influential writer and defender of the Reformation
  • Defending the French Protestants (Huguenots). He even asked Queen Elizabeth I to aid him in this effort.



  • The Life of Calvin (1567)


  • Juvenilia (1548): This work brought him recognition as one of the best writers of Latin poetry


  • De Jure Magistratum (On the Rights of the Magistrate, 1572)
  • De vera excommunicatione et Christiano presbyterio (1590)
  • Du droit des Magistrats sur leurs subjets (1574) was published anonymously after the massacre on St. Bartholomew’s Day. He claims in it that all authority comes from God and that rulers are to care for the people under them.
  • Theological Treatises


  • Summa totius Christianismi (1555) was his major work on Supralapsarianism.
  • Tractationes Theologicae (1582) is recognized as one of Beza’s greatest works. In it he explains the Calvinistic view of the sovereignty of God.
  • Confession de la foi chrétienne (1559) is an explanation of the Calvinist beliefs.
  • A Little Book of Christian Questions and Responses
  • Abraham sacrifiant (a play)
  • Histoire Ecclesiastique des Eglises Reformes au Royaume de France (1580)
  • Codex Bezae


  • Edition of the Greek New Testament (1582).
  • French translation of the New Testament (with Calvin)

Secondary Sources:

  • Baird, Henry Martyn. Theodore Beza, The Counsellor of the French Reformation. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1899. Print.
  • Baum, Johann Wilhelm. Theodor Beza nach handschriftlichen Quellen dargestellt. Leipzig, 1843.
    • This is the most thorough and scholarly work on Beza’s life.
  • Heppe, Heinrich, Theodor Beza, Leben und ausgewahlte Schriften. Elberfelt, 1861.
  • Schlosser, F. C., Leben des Theodor de Beza und des Peter Martyr Vermili. Heidelberg, 1809.


  • Baird, Henry Martyn. Theodore Beza, The Counsellor of the French Reformation. New    York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1899. Print.
  • F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian     Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 199.
  • Hillerbrand, Hans Joachim. The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation. Vol. 1. New        York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Schaff, Philip, and David S. Schaff. 1949. History of the Christian Church. Vol. 8. Grand   Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1949.
  • https://www.britannica.com/biography/Theodore-Beza


Biographical Sketch of Thomas Muntzer  

By Jessica Snow, Biola University


Summary of Life


  • Definitely born before 1490 in Stolberg, Germany.[1]
  • Recent research has confirmed that 1489 is the most likely year.[2]

Early Years

  • (In general, there is very little information on the early years of Thomas Muntzer’s life.)
  • 1506 – Name is registered at the University of Leipzig.[3]
  • 1512 – attained master of arts and bachelors of theology from University of Frankfurt an der Oder.[4]
    • Specialized in Linguistics, particularly Greek, Hebrew, and Latin
  • 1513-1515 – Assistant teacher/clergyman in various schools[5]
  • 1516-1517 – Prior at Frohse monastery in Aschersleben.[6]

Middle Years

  • 1518 – Introduced to Martin Luther and interested in his ideas.[7]
  • 1519 – Speaks out against the Franciscan order and the veneration of the saints.[8]
    • Ideas fit in the box, wants to push the envelope
  • 1519-1520 – Goes back to school to develop these new ideas at the monastery of Beuditz at Weissenfels.[9]
    • During this time he developed his own views based in mysticism.
    • Thought Luther’s work was important for both church and secular life.
  • Pastored at Zwickau where there was large separation between common people and the upper class
    • Sided most often with the common people believing authority comes from within God’s own and not from the Bible, thus deviating from both the Roman Catholic church and Luther.
    • Was encouraged to be here by Luther originally, later kicked out for his differing ideas.[10]
  • 1521 – Published manifesto in Prague on a new church rising up that would be governed by the Holy Spirit.[11]
  • 1522 – Recognizing vast differences from Luther by getting into a disagreement with his supporters where they are the ones threatening him.[12]

Later Years

  • 1522 – Meets future wife, Ottilie von Gersen, who used to be a nun.[13]
  • 1523 – Became pastor at a church in Allstedt.[14]
  • 1525 – Gives vision for the people to bring about God’s justice and takes his place as the Commander of the troops in the Peasant War.[15]


  • Died May 27, 1525, beheaded after the Peasants War didn’t succeed.

Influence and Recognition

  • Influenced by:
    • Martin Luther was an initial influence to Muntzer to think differently and challenge the assumptions of authority. Muntzer took this further and in a different direction over the years after discovering Luther, but Luther was still the initial inspiration.
    • Nikolaus Storch, led a reform group called the “Zwickau prophets” that influenced Muntzer in authority coming from God’s people and not scripture.[16] This notion is what encouraged Muntzer to lead the peasants into war, because he believed they were God’s people bringing divine judgment and truth.
  • Influenced:
    • Locally and immediately, Muntzer influence the thousands of peasants that partook in the Peasant War. He encouraged them to fight as he believed the end was drawing near, and they were about to bring God’s wrath and plan for the church.
    • 1843 – Friedrich Engels, a co-founder of Marxism, wrote that Christians must be in society that shares all things to be “proper.” He reached this conclusion after reading Muntzer’s writings.[17] Engels always assumed that Muntzer was much more concerned about the social aspect of his movement than the religious. He just used the religious part to get his point across.[18]
    • 1975 – The Peasants War was noted by the German Democratic Republic, bringing it into the light again noticed more modernly for its ideological contributions.[19]
  •  Known for:
    • Thomas Muntzer is most commonly known for the Peasant War
    • Also known for his disagreements with Luther and the rest of the Reformation.
    • Theology of Revolution

Key Theological ideas

  • In development of theology, Muntzer focused greatly on pneumatology and eschatology.[20]
  • Theology of Revolution[21] – This is a term many use to describe Muntzer theology that the people of God needed to rise to fulfill the call God had for revolution in the land. This is the ideology that encouraged communist support later. It came from ideas he had seen Storch that encouraged the authority of God being displayed through people that possessed his Spirit.
  • Questioned Infant Baptism with the Anabaptists.[22]


  • Types:
    • Muntzer wrote letters, speeches, and other rhetorical devices used for persuasion. He was focused on wanting to rally together the people through his writing.
  • Major Works:
    • Letter written to Count Ernst of Mansfeld
    • Vindication and Refutation
    • A Sermon before the Princes
    • “Open Letter to the People of Allstedt”
    • The Prague Manifesto
  • Publications:
    • Matheson ed. and trans., The Collected Works of Thomas Muntzer (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1988)

Secondary Works

  • Thomas Müntzer: Briefwechsel, ed. Siegfried Bräuer und Manfred Kobuch. Thomas-Müntzer-Ausgabe. Kritische Gesamtausgabe. Vol. 2. ed. Helmar Junghans und Armin Kolmle. Leipzig: Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig. 2010. [ThMA 2]
    • This is a very important work on Muntzer that revolutionized many ideas about the relevancy of Muntzer as well as clarified many ambiguous historical facts or assumptions through meticulous research in just 2010.[23] Being almost 600 pages in length, this work is comprehensive and holds the most information on this Muntzer and his influences. Unfortunately though, it is also in German, so I was unable to read it.
  • Elliger, Walter. Thomas Müntzer : Leben u. Werk. n.p.: Göttingen : Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1975.
  • Junghans, Reinhard. “The rise and decline of Thomas Müntzer.” Lutheran Quarterly 5, no. 3, 1991: 247-276. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.
    • I found this text to be especially insightful as it helped show the modern implications for the use of Muntzer’s words in the interpretation done by the communist party. Seeing the application of Muntzer’s ideas in a contemporary format is fascinating and saddening.
  • Josipovic, Mario, and William McNiel. “Thomas Müntzer as ‘Disturber of the Godless’: A Reassessment of His Revolutionary Nature.” The Mennonite Quarterly Review 70, no. 4 (October 1996): 431-447. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials.
  • Bensing, Manfred, and Ed. 2014. “Müntzer, Thomas.” Encyclopædia Britannica Research Starters, EBSCOhost.



Bensing, Manfred, and Ed. 2014. “Müntzer, Thomas.” Encyclopædia Britannica Research Starters, EBSCOhost.

Josipovic, Mario, and William McNiel. “Thomas Müntzer as ‘Disturber of the Godless’: A Reassessment of His Revolutionary Nature.” The Mennonite Quarterly Review 70, no. 4 (October 1996): 431-447. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials.

Junghans, Reinhard. “The rise and decline of Thomas Müntzer.” Lutheran Quarterly 5, no. 3: 247-276. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.

Livingstone, E.A., Thomas Muntzer, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3 ed.), Oxford University Press, 2015.

Maczka, Romwald. “Retheologizing Thomas Müntzer in the German Democratic Republic: 15 years of Marxist and non-Marxist research.” The Mennonite Quarterly Review 63, no. 4: 345-366. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.

Matheson, Peter. 2012. “Recent German research on Thomas Müntzer.” The Mennonite Quarterly Review 86, no. 1: 97-109. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.


[1] Manfred Bensing, and Ed. 2014. “Müntzer, Thomas.” Encyclopædia Britannica Research Starters, EBSCOhost (accessed March 21, 2017).

[2] Peter Matheson. 2012. “Recent German research on Thomas Müntzer.” The Mennonite Quarterly Review 86, no. 1: 97-109. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed March 22, 2017).

[3] Bensing, “Müntzer, Thomas.”

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] E.A. Livingstone, Thomas Muntzer, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3 ed.), Oxford University Press, 2015.

[11] Bensing, “Müntzer, Thomas.”

[12] Bensing, “Müntzer, Thomas.”

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Livingstone, “Thomas Muntzer”.

[16] Bensing, “Müntzer, Thomas.”

[17] Junghans, 248.

[18] Junghans, 249.

[19] Romwald Maczka. 1989. “Retheologizing Thomas Müntzer in the German Democratic Republic: 15 years of Marxist and non-Marxist research.” The Mennonite Quarterly Review 63, no. 4: 345-366. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, 346.

[20] Reinhard Junghans. 1991. “The rise and decline of Thomas Müntzer.” Lutheran Quarterly 5, no. 3: 247-276. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, 246.

[21] Mario Josipovic, and William McNiel. “Thomas Müntzer as ‘Disturber of the Godless’: A Reassessment of His Revolutionary Nature.” The Mennonite Quarterly Review 70, no. 4 (October 1996): 431-447. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, 431.

[22] Livingstone, “Thomas Muntzer”.

[23] Matheson. “Recent German research on Thomas Müntzer.”

William Farel

Biographical Sketch of William Farel: French Protestant Reformer

by Lacey Lott

Screenshot 2017-03-15 12.21.30

Summary of Life:

The Pre-Conversion Years

1487-9: Pope Innocent VIII commands that the Waldensians (those living around Gap) be destroyed because of their worship of God and use of His Word

1489: William Farel is born in Gap in France

1489-1509: Farel grows up being taught to be religious as a Roman Catholic

1496: Decides he wants to learn and study, against his father’s wishes

1509: Persuades his father to let him go to Paris to gain more education

1510-1515: Begins reading the Scriptures when Pope Julius II called the OT and NT “the holy Bible”; learns Hebrew and Greek; learning from Jacques La Fevre

around 1515: Becomes a monk near Paris with Carthusian monks

around 1519: Returns to Paris after becoming more unhappy

1519: Forsakes the Roman Catholic Church

Learning, Preaching, Writing, and Being Persecuted

1519-20: Farel and LaFevre are invited by Bishop Briconnet to teach God’s Word at a college in Meaux-in the midst of persecution

1520-3: Begins to preach to villages surrounding Gap, eventually finding shelter from those persecuting him in Basel, Switzerland (a city free from the authority of the Roman Catholic Church)

1523: Writes theses/propositions based on Scripture itself that he submits in Basel against the wishes of authorities; receives much opposition, but also much encouragement by those who agree with him; Farel is actually driven from Basel through the convincing efforts of Erasmus

1523: Goes to Strasbourg, Germany, but is shortly summoned by Duke Ulrich to return to Basel to preach the gospel undercover

1524-5: Begins writing books and preaching more than ever in Montbeliard, France, under the protection of the German Empire

1525: Returns to Strasbourg and becomes depressed over the attacks taking place as well as deception coming to Christians even through well-known theologians

1526: Leaves Strasbourg on foot set to visit Oecolampadius in Basel, but gets stopped by a storm where the Lord renews his vigor

early 1527: The Council of Berne commissions Farel to preach to Aigle and the surrounding villages in the midst of civil opposition

late 1527: Farel is called to a meeting at Berne, which was one of the most powerful and influential meetings in the history of the Reformation

1528-31: Preaching and continuing to be persecuted to the point of near-death

1532: Begins preaching in Geneva where he is received by some, but torn down by the clergy who ask him to leave and find someone quieter to take his place

1532-3: Anthony Froment, a pastor from a small village, goes into Geneva to be a schoolteacher, also teaching about Jesus and drawing crowds of people in, but eventually having to flee because of the pressure of the priests

1536: Geneva supports the Reformation and Farel convinces John Calvin to stay there as his assistant

1538: Both Farel and Calvin are driven from Geneva because they refused to offer communion due to the laxity of church discipline and the lack of separating church and state

1541: Calvin is welcomed back to Geneva where he begins a movement of Protestants

The Final Years

1538-65: Farel lives in Neuchatel for the remaining years of his life

1558: Marries Mary Thorel at the age of 69

1560: Preaches in Gap one last time

1565-Dies in Neuchátel, Switzerland

Influence and Recognition:


  • John Calvin-a student at the University of Paris not too long after Farel
  • Churches such as Montbeliard and Geneva
  • Countless Christians throughout Germany, France, and Switzerland-especially influencing the rise of Christians learning to read the Bible for themselves

Influenced by

  • Jacques LaFevre-one of the most learned professors at the University of Paris who became Farel’s tutor and most influential figure
  • Johann Oecolampadius-a German humanist and reformer who recommended Farel when he left Basel to Germany
  • John Calvin-a student at the University of Paris after Farel had already left
  • Ulrich Zwingli-a fellow theologian who encouraged Farel especially during times of intense persecution

Known for

  • Having translated many German tracts into French, utilizing the French translation of the New Testament that his tutor LaFevre had completed
  • Being “the heretic preacher,” “the blasphemer,” and “the image breaker” especially throughout French-speaking areas in Romanized Switzerland
  • Preaching directly from the Bible
  • Being a long-winded and intense preacher

Key Theological Ideas

  • Jesus Christ is the only One who offers forgiveness of sins, freely and fully, through His work on the cross to those who have faith in Him
  • Scripture
    • The Holy Bible is the only source of divine authority
    • Clarity of Scripture making it able to be understood
  • Complete rejection of Roman Catholicism
    • Rejection of papal authority
    • External tradition outside of Scripture cannot be tolerated
  • Eucharist
    • Greatly disagreed (and was saddened) with Luther’s theology concerning the Eucharist, even causing him to write to Luther with only deaf ears in response
    • Focused on the ‘spiritual’ work of the Eucharist rather than the ‘material’
  • Divine vs. Human Will
    • Divine will-pure in nature and form
    • Human will-deformed and completely unable to do God’s revealed will
    • Only once someone believes in the saving grace of Jesus Christ are they able to follow God’s revealed will



  • Letters/Epistles
  • Tracts
  • Liturgies
  • Prayers
  • Sermons/Dogmatics
  • Books
  • Polemics/Arguments

Major Works

  • Most important work according to Farel:

Sommaire et brève declaration (Summary and brief declaration)

  • Farel wrote to offer clarity on the main points of Christianity that should be understood by all Christians. He expanded upon doctrines such as God, man, sin, good works, fasting, the power of pastors, the instruction of children, satisfaction, the resurrection, and many more, supporting his claims with Scripture throughout the entire document.
  • Le Pater Noster et le Credo (The Lord’s Prayer and Apostles’ Creed)
    • Farel’s translation and interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed. His goal in this work was to provide prayers for Christians to be able to contemplate and pray.
  • La Maniere et fasson (Liturgical Practices and forms)
    • Farel wrote explanations of the way that Christians should practice baptism, marriage, the Lord’s Supper, public worship, and visitation of the sick, according to Scripture. His purpose in explaining these was to clarify even further his Sommaire for all Christians.

Original Publications (to name a few)

  • De la saincte Cene de nostre Seigneur Jesus et de son Testament confirmé par sa mort et passion. Traicté tresutile à tous chrestiens pour cognoistre la vraye institution et administration d’icelle Cene selon la vraye doctrine de l’Evangile (Of the holy Cene of our Lord Jesus and His Testament confirmed by His death and passion. A treacherous tract to all Christians to know the true institution and administration of this Cene according to the true doctrine of the Gospel). Geneva: Jean Crespin, 1553.
  • Du vrai usage de la croix et Jésus-Christ (From the true use of the cross of Jesus Christ). Reprint, Geneva: Jules-Guillaume Fick, 1865.
  • Epistre Envoyee au Duc de Lorraine (Epistle sent to the Duke of Lorraine). Geneva: Jehan Girard, 1543.
  • Epistre Envoyee aux Reliques de la dissipation horrible de de l’Antechrist (Epistle sent to the relics of the horrible dissipation of the Antichrist). 1544.
  • La Maniere et fasson (Liturgical Practices and forms). Neuchâtel, Pierre de Vingle, 1533.
  • Le glaive de la parole véritable, tiré contre le Bouclier de defense: duquel un Cordelier Libertin s’est voulu servir, pour approuver ses fausses et damnables opinions (The sword of the veritable speech, drawn against the Shield of defense: from which libertine Cordelier intended to serve to approve his false and damnable opinions). Geneva: Jean Girard, 1550.
  • Le Pater Noster et le Credo (The Lord’s Prayer and Apostles’ Creed), 1524. Reprint, Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1982.
  • La Tres Saincte Oraison que Nostre Seigneur Iesus a bailée à ses Apostres, les enseignant comme ilz et tous vrays crestiens doivent prier,
  • Sommaire et brève declaration (Summary and brief declaration), 1529/34. Edited by Arthur-L. Hofer. Neuchaˆtel: Belle Rivière, 1980.

Secondary Works:

Bevan, Frances A. William Farel. London: Alfred Holness, 1900.

Blackburn, William M. William Farel and the Story of the Swiss Reform. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1865.

Heyer, Henry. Guillaume Farel: essai sur le développement de ses idées théologiques (Geneva : Ramboz et Schuhardt, 1872)

Junod, Louis. Farel: réformateur de la Suisse Romande et pasteur de l’église de Neuchatel. Neuchatel: Delachoux & Sandoz, 1865.

Kirchhofer, Melchior. Life of William Farel: The Swiss Reformer London : The Religious Tract Society, 1837.

Shidler, Don P. Elijah of the Alps. Smithville: Gospel Missionary Union, 1972.

Zuidema, Jason and Theodore G. Van Raalte. Early French Reform: The Theology and Spirituality of Guillaume Farel. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Co., 2011.

Shidler’s Elijah of the Alps and Zuidema’s Early French Reform were the most helpful. Shidler provides a detailed and understandable biography of Farel’s life, which can be used alongside Bevan and Balckburn’s biographies. Zuidema’s book focuses more on Farel’s theology and spirituality, making some of Farel’s most well known works available as well.


Bevan, Frances A. William Farel. London: Alfred Holness, 1900.

Blackburn, William M. William Farel and the Story of the Swiss Reform. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1865.

Encyclopedia Britannica. 2012 ed. S.v. “Guillaume Farel.”

Post-Reformation Digital Library. 2014 ed. S.v. “Guillaume Farel: 1489-1565.”

Shidler, Don P. Elijah of the Alps. Smithville: Gospel Missionary Union, 1972.

Van Raalte, Theodore G. “Guillaume Farel’s Spirituality: Leading in Prayer.” Westminster Theological Journal 70 (October 2008): 277-301.

Zuidema, Jason and Theodore G. Van Raalte. Early French Reform: The Theology and Spirituality of Guillaume Farel. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Co., 2011.

Katharina Schütz Zell

Biography Sketch of Katharina Schütz Zell

by Molly Swanson

wibrandisrosenblattSummary of Life

1497/8: Born in Strasbourg, a town on the French/German border.

1505: Katharina dedicated herself to “religious matters” at the age of 7.[1]

1508: At age 10 Katharina dedicated herself to the church in celibacy and good works.

1509: Strasbourg clergy ally with Roman curia.

1518: At the age of 20 Martin Luther’s pamphlets begin to circulate in Strasbourg;                             Priest Matthew Zell takes charge of the town’s cathedral parish.

1521: Katharina converted to the Gospel by Luther and Zell’s teachings

1532: Martin Bucer arrives in Strasbourg; Matthew Zell and Katharina Schütz married                              on 3 December.

1524-1558: Katharina’s works are published.

1548: Matthew Zell died January 10; Katharina gave her Lament/exhortation

1562: Katharina dies in Strasbourg.

Influence and recognition:

Moral Reform: In her early years Katharina struggled with the assurance of salvation. She grew up under the preaching of Geiler von Kayserberg until his death in 1510. Geiler, being in his last years, was diligently focused on the moral reform of the clergy, and his sermons reflected it. Count William von Holstein took Geiler’s place as bishop in 1506 and kept the same focus on moral reform, but was overpowered in 1509 when the Strasbourg clergy allied with the Roman curia. Under Pope Julius there was no need for morals among clergy provided they paid the yearly taxes. Katharina was still very young, but the air of tension throughout Strasbourg could not go unnoticed.

Medieval theology: With the alliance of the Strasbourg clergy and the Roman curia the immorality of the clergy grew steadily worse. This also brought the theology of the pope closer to the people of Strasbourg with Sacraments of penance and Mass being the key means of grace. This caused Christians to struggle with their assurance of salvation. Though Katharina was devout in her younger years, she nevertheless could not find any peace in her salvation.

Luther: Katharina deeply identified with Luther’s theological crises of personal peace before God. Luther’s message of salvation as a gift from Christ, detached from any human work, opened the meaning of Scripture to her and gave her the confidence to search scripture for herself and rejoice in her position as a child of God.

Matthew Zell: It was under Zell’s position as preacher in Strasbourg that Katharina came to understand the Gospel. Zell brought with him the teachings of Luther; Zell claimed not to be teaching Luther, but viewed him as a better guide to understanding scripture that the tradition of the Pope. Highly influenced by Luther, Zell brought the gospel of liberation from works to Strasbourg, which Katharina fervently clung to.


  • Katharine was one of the first women to marry a pastor, and certainly the first respected woman in her city to marry none other than the most prominent priest in Strasbourg; This came even before the marriage of Martin Luther. Shortly after her marriage she published her “Apologia for Master Matthew Zell” which was a scriptural defense of clerical marriage. It was focused toward lay citizens such as herself and posed as a public defense of her faith and her actions.
  • Though Katharina did receive some challenges as a pamphleteer during her time, but the little town on Strasbourg provided a generous amount of protection for her, which allowed her writing to travel outside the little town. Martin Luther received a personal copy of Katharina’s first published work “Letters to the suffering women…”
  • Citizens and refugees that sought shelter from the persecution of the Pope and his followers. In 1524 the Zell’s took in more than 80 protestant refugees from the town over who felt compelled to leave as the Roman Catholic rulers grew more intense. Katharina provided meals and shelter for the men during the following month until the men had found permanent shelter.

Katharine was known for her motherly heart directed toward the lay people, the displaced, and those who were negatively viewed.


  • Katharina had a strong reformed Lutheran leaning.
    • Christ is the sole savior. There are no human works needed for/able to bring about justification.
    • Moral uprightness is nevertheless a call of the Christian and an outpouring of faith.
    • She opposed the medieval death rites:
      • Man has an obligation to do as much as possible to add to his salvation
      • No one can be completely assured of salvation until death.
      • Man has free will to choose God, but that choice still only leads to a hope that God will forgive.
      • Prayers to the saints on behalf of the dying.
      • Obligation to confess every sin
      • Sacrament of extreme unction.
      • Purgatory
  • Katharina believed that Christ is the only mediator who does not forgive mechanically nor gives grace on account of holy rituals and objects. Christ is the sole savior who gives faith as a confirmed gift, which needs no help from man’s works.
  • Katharina believed clergy could be married. This she showed with her actions, as well as with her words, writing a defense for her position, against that of the medieval church.
  • She believed that she was responsible, after and with no reference to salvation, to live out kingdom work and moral uprightness with her abilities and skills. She never wanted to be a pastor, but supported her husband and worked in theological and ecclesial pursuit beside him.
  • This included lay people into the work of the Kingdom. She did not believe, with the medieval church, that holiness was just for the clergy, but believed that she could search the scriptures herself – that all lay people, under right supervision and with correct teaching, could read the scriptures for themselves.
  • In her eulogy given at her husband’s funeral she likened herself to Mary Madeline, the apostle of apostles, who did not ask but was called to proclaim the gospel. Her situation in life gave her a platform and she took that space and ability to proclaim the gospel. She wanted to include the rest of the lay people into this practical theology of working with the means that you have.


Types: Katharina wrote letters in the form of booklets and correspondence, treatises, a hymnbook that she translated into German, scriptural meditations, songs, and a sermon.

Major Works:

  • Letter to the suffering women of the Community of Kentzingen, who believe in Christ, sisters with me in Jesus Christ. (1524)
  • Katharina Schütz’s Apologia For Master Matthew Zell, Her Husband, Who is a pastor and servant of the Word of God in Strasbourg, because of the great lies invented about him. (1524)
  • Hymnbook of the Bohemian Brethren. (1531)
  • Some Christian and Comforting Songs of Praise about Jesus Christ our Savior (1534-6)
  • Lament and Exhortation of Katharina Zell to the People at the Grave of Master Matthew Zell. (January 11, 1548)
  • A Letter to the Whole Citizenship of the city of Strasbourg from Katharina Zell, Widow of the (Now Blessed) Matthew Zell, The Former and First Preacher of the Gospel in This City, Concerning Mr. Ludwig Rabus, Now a Preacher of the City of Ulm, Together With Two Letters: Hers and His. May Many Read These and Judge Without Favor or Hate But Alone Take to Heart the Truth. Also a Healthy Answer to Each Article of His Letter. (March 1558)
  • The Misere Psalm Meditated, Prayed, and Paraphrased with King David by Katharina Zell, The Blessed Matthew Zell’s Widow. Together with the Our Father with its Explanation, Sent to the Christian Man Sir Felix Armbruster for Comfort in His Illness, and Published for the Sake of Afflicted Consciences that are Troubled by Sins. Some Sayings from the Psalms and Prophets. (August 1558)

Secondary Works:

  • Zell, Katharina. Church mother the writings of a Protestant reformer in sixteenth-century Germany. Translated by Elsie Anne. McKee. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.
  • McKee, Elsie Anne. Katharina Schütz Zell the Life and Thought of a Sixteenth-century Reformer. Vol. 1. Leiden: Brill, 1999
  • Stjerna, Kirsi. Women and the Reformation. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Pub., 2009.four
  • McKee, Elsie Anne. Reforming Popular Piety in Sixteenth-century Strasbourg: Katharina Schütz Zell and Her Hymnbook. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Theological Seminary, 1994.


  • McKee, Elsie Anne. Katharina Schütz Zell. 1. Leiden: Brill, 1999.
  • McKee, Elsie Anne. Katharina Schütz Zell. 2. Leiden: Brill, 1999.
  • “PIERRE VIRET HISTORICAL SITES.” The Pierre Viret Association – USA. http://www.pierreviret.org/map-strasbourg.php.

[1] The council of Cologne regarded 7 years old as the youngest age for confirmation. This is a claim that Katharina made herself. She may have been referring to that confirmation, when the basics of faith would have been taught to her by her godparents and she would have received the Holy Spirit by the laying on hands by a bishop. See McKee, Vol.1, p. 13.

Book Review by Brianna Smith of Timothy George’s Theology of the Reformers.

Timothy George. Theology of the Reformers. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2013. 428. $29.99.


It is in some people’s nature to constantly desire change. There are some that are not content unless they are seeking after a more correct or more efficient way of doing things. Those involved in the religious Reformation of the 1500s all had different ideas about what exactly needed change, but they all agreed that religious change was necessary. Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George is a very practical book about the theological ideas of the leaders of this Reformation. He argues that an understanding of Reformation theology is key to an understanding of the church and the “Christian story” (1). George’s understanding of the Reformation is that is was simultaneously “a revival and a revolution” (17). Because George sees the Reformation as a religious event with primarily theological concerns, he focuses on the “theological self-understanding” of five principle reformers: Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, Menno Simons, and William Tyndale. He sets out to provide a foundation upon which to dialogue with them in order to form one’s own opinions and questions (16). As a former professor of History and Doctrine and Dean at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as well as Beeson Divinity School, Timothy George is uniquely qualified to write this book. He is a prolific writer and served as the editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture. As an Evangelical Christian, George approaches this study as historical theology with an emphasis on understanding the story of the church better for the purpose of both admiration and emulation.

This book contains eight chapters each centered on a different topic. George introduces his book with an overview of different methods of studying the Reformation so that he can center in on his focus on the Reformation as a religious transitional period. This is followed by an exploration in chapter two of the theology of the late Middle Ages, the stage of history immediately preceding the Reformation. In discussing the Middle Ages, he focuses on the deep sense of “moral anxiety” and guilt in that era (24). The theological focus in this time was largely on human guilt and a wrathful God that “placed an intolerable burden on the penitent” (26). This laid an excellent foundation for religious change, which George outlines in the next five chapters, each focused on a different key reformer and their theology.

The next five chapters of George’s book focus in on the major reformers and their theology. The third chapter of the book is centered on Martin Luther, a German pastor and scholar who was above all deeply committed to the Word of God and to the Church. His theology was profoundly biblical and practical as he wrote contextually “to particular situations with definite ends in mind” (57). His legacy is most certainly his deep understanding of the centrality of Christ born in the midst of his deep sufferings. The next reformer spoken of is Huldrych Zwingli, a Swiss parish priest and patriot. Zwingli’s primary concern was to unite the political and religious realms, believing firmly that “the kingdom of Christ is also external” (115). He was also deeply committed to God’s word and very cautious to maintain the strict “distinction between the Creator and all creatures” in order to avoid the great sin of idolatry (125). Chapter five is centered on John Calvin, the second-generation French reformer best known for his work in Geneva. Calvin’s greatest contribution to the Reformation, according to George, was that of creating a “clear, systematic exposition” of the Reformation ideas, largely through his Institutes (174). Calvin’s theology was centered on the glory of God and the teaching of Scripture.

George then moves his attention to the Radical Reformation as a whole, focusing on Menno Simons, perhaps the most well known of the radicals. After a struggle through the Gospel, George contends that Simons became committed to 1 Corinthians 3:11, “the motto of his life and his theology” (278). The Anabaptist leader emphasized new birth, biblical authority, and a Christocentric reading of Scripture. The last reformer that George speaks of is William Tyndale, the English reformer known for translating the Bible into English. This chapter is a new addition to the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Theology of the Reformers. Tyndale’s theology, centered on the centrality of Scripture, love of neighbor, and rich ecclesiology, was developed on the run until his untimely martyrdom. George’s last chapter summarizes what he views to be why the Reformation matters today, largely by pointing out that the Reformation, “challenges the church to listen reverently and obediently to what God as once and for all said and once and for all done in Jesus Christ” (379). George cites a wide variety of primary and secondary sources throughout his book, giving ample bibliographies at the close of each chapter.

George accomplishes his goal of providing the theology of the Reformers in order to promote learning from them. Each chapter gives a short biography of the reformer being spoken of and then moves into a succinct explanation of their main works and major theological ideas. His masterful use of quotations both by and about these reformers help to give a holistic view of them and their theology. Each chapter also builds on the others by comparing and contrasting the different reformers theological ideas and methods of reform. By doing this, George not only touches on their similarities and differences, he also gives an understanding of them as people, thus giving greater fodder for our admiration and emulation of them. Although George did use several primary sources and quoted them occasionally, it would be helpful to see more extensive usage of the reformers own words to describe their theology.

In Theology of the Reformers, Timothy George masterfully walks through the thinking of the Reformers in order to provide a framework for the church today to think about theology. He convincingly shows that we not only should learn from the reformers as historical Christian figures, but also recognize that studying their theology can help us “serve the true and living God of Jesus Christ” more fully (379). George’s broad brushstrokes makes the book more accessible for a wider audience. It would further enhance the book, however, to give more room for the reformers to have more of a say in their own theology. Because of the lack of primary source quotations, this book is probably most helpful for a beginning student of the Reformation to give them a brief overview of Reformation theological thought, or for a more advanced student that would like a quick review.

Brianna Smith, Biola University

Book review by Yuma Takei of Holder’s Crisis and Renewal

Holder, R. Ward. Crisis and Renewal: The Era of the Reformations. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009.


When many historical theologians write on the Reformation, they tend to lean towards the theological or historical perspective. Crisis and Renewal: The Era of the Reformations by R. Ward Holder discusses both sides of the spectrum when observing the various Reformations of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It attempts to point out the religious movements that occurred during the era of the Reformation, identifying the significance of each movement for the time then and the present. R. Ward Holder is an Associate Professor of Theology at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. His Ph.D. is in Theology, which he received from Boston College. His specialties are in historical theology of the fifteenth to seventeenth century, history of interpretation of scripture, political theology, and John Calvin. These credentials give him a unique credibility because he knows both theological and political sides of the era being observed.

 The first chapter is on defining the Reformation. The chapter gives a cohesive understanding of the several issues of the Reformation. These issues consist of how one ought to define the Reformation, the period of the Reformation, the character of change in the Reformation, the movements of the Reformation, and the confessions of the Reformation. From chapter two to three, Holder focuses on the Medieval Context and the humanistic movement that starts within this era. Significant events such as the black plague and religious and political scandals were highlighted throughout these chapters. This gives segue to the humanistic movement, a “loose movement that valued the classical works and sought to return to the wisdom of the ancient world” (37). Humanism attempts to go ad fontes and responds to the corruptions of the Late Medieval context.

Starting from the fourth through ninth chapter, Holder discusses various Reformations that occurred starting with the Lutheran reform. These chapters are formatted in a similar structure, progressing from the reformer’s life to their theological views. Chapters six, eight, and nine were formatted differently because there is no one reformer who can act as the representative for those specific reforms (Radical, Anglican, Catholic). The Lutheran reform is centered around Luther’s reforms in Wittenberg and his views on justification, Christian living, and two kingdoms. In chapter five, the differences between Zwingli and Luther were discussed. Holder writes, “In Zwingli, we find an almost exact contemporary of Luther, who forged his own path of reform” (92). Zwingli’s life and theology is then discussed to see exactly what those differences are. The Radical reform is described as “the radical response to Luther” and covered a variety of topics ranging from the Peasant’s War, Michael Sattler, and Munster’s apocalyptic kingdom (121). Biblicism and separation of church and state were highlighted in their theological views. Holder then writes about Calvin and Geneva, his specialty, discussing Calvin’s life and reforms in Geneva. A major portion of this chapter is dedicated to Calvin’s theology such as knowledge, grace, justification, sacraments, etc., but the uniqueness of this chapter comes from Holder’s description of Calvin’s sufferings and pastoral ministry. Soon after the English Reformation is hashed out, analyzing the power changes between kings and queens of England, ultimately leading to the 39 articles. The last chapter of this section, the Catholic reform, was broken up into three stages: the early, middle, and later stage. In each stage, important figures and events were discussed, some of them being Ignatius Loyola, Council of Trent, and the Inquisition. The theology of the Mystics was elaborated on towards the end of chapter nine.

Lastly, chapters ten, eleven, and twelve discussed other violent and minority reforms ending with the conclusion of the success or failure of the reform. Different wars between religious groups and minority reforms in Scotland, Netherlands, Romania, Hungary, Women reforms, and North America were briefly examined.

Overall, the author proved his thesis in a way that was understandable and clear. His arguments for each section of the Reformation were concise and easy to follow along. Holder did not make any radical theological comment on a certain era but kept his work purely historical theological. There was not much theological critique of each reform but it was a mere outlook of each reform. His evidences support the conclusion of his book fairly well. The discussion of the primary theology that circulated in each Reformation helped to support his conclusion that each reform found ways to continue the historic faith that comes from scripture. An example of this might be Calvin’s theology (153-159) in which his contribution to many areas of doctrine formulated Geneva’s position. The political and religious influences of each reform helped empower his thesis that these reforms were significant to all in the time of the Reformation. The significance of political and religious background is most clearly seen in the English Reformation (167-184) where politics and religion were everything. No sources were misused in any way and Holder accurately depicts each theological confession and primary source. Holder quotes from the confessions themselves to understand the goal and background of each confession, along with the primary sources he is interacting with. Although Luther’s commentaries were quoted properly as his view of righteousness was expounded upon (86), primary sources were not used in Zwingli’s theology, making his theological summary faulty in a minor way (109-112). Holder quotes directly from the Institutes to make theological statements about Calvin (153, 156). Holder does a great job in using the Schleitheim confessions to signify the purpose of the document (129). The book was well written because its flow was organized in a way that is easy to pick up. Generally each chapter of the book had a similar way of organization, making it easier to follow. Typically, the organization would be historical chronology of events then theological insights. An improvement that could be made is on the impact of the theologies of each Reformation in society today. Knowing the impact of each reform would strengthen his thesis and his conclusion. The significance of the Reformation would be brought out, proving his thesis that the Reformation ought to be studied because it is important to the church today.

I would agree with majority of the author’s conclusion. Holder discussed the phrase “ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda”, showing the implications of the Reformation in our church today (246-47). We ought to constantly seek reform to better our worship unto God. I would disagree with Holder on the fact that the Reformation as a movement cannot be determined if it were successful or not. I would say as a movement it was a failure because it failed to reform the Roman Catholic Church, as Rome still exists today. But as individuals, the reformers succeeded in that the Protestant Church was formed and the core doctrines of the true faith were regained. Holder states, “The true success of the people of the Reformation era was that they found paths to maintain continuity with the historic Christian faith while responding to what they discerned as a divine call to reform it” (248). Some of the strengths that the book had were the comprehensive outlook of the history of each reform. The theologies discussed in each chapter gave a descriptive, theological summary of each movement, establishing a distinction between each theology so that the reader sees the differences with clarity. One weakness the book had was discussing how each theology of the reforms impacts our church today. As a historical theologian, one of the goals should be to examine how theology impacts modern day Christianity. This book should be introductory material for a class on the Reformation or even read to properly understand what happened in the Reformation and why it happened. It fits in the academic level of reading, and it is more concise in its length and argument compared to other books on the Reformation. Its value lies in the fact that it was a comprehensive overlook of each reform but not too lengthy. I would recommend this book to anyone who seeks to learn the history of the church, and especially, the history of Protestantism.

Reviewed by Yuma Takei, Biola University