February 11, 2012
Menno Simons graphic by Kathy Grimm
Menno Simons (1496 – 31 January 1561) was an Anabaptist religious leader from the Friesland region of the Low Countries. Simons was a contemporary of the Protestant Reformers and his followers became known as Mennonites. “Menno Simons” is a dutchification; his actual, Frisian name was Minne Simens.
February 11, 2012
John Wycliffe graphic by Kathy Grimm
John Wycliffe (c. 1328 – December 31, 1384) was an English Scholastic philosopher, theologian, lay preacher, translator, reformer and university teacher at Oxford in England, who was known as an early dissident in the Roman Catholic Church during the 14th century. His followers were known as Lollards, a somewhat rebellious movement, which preached anticlerical and biblically-centred reforms. The Lollard movement, was a precursor to the Protestant Reformation (for this reason, Wycliffe is sometimes called “The Morning Star of the Reformation”). He was one of the earliest opponents of papal authority influencing secular power.
Wycliffe was also an early advocate for translation of the Bible into the common language. He completed his translation directly from the Vulgate into vernacular English in the year 1382, now known as Wycliffe’s Bible. It is probable that he personally translated the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; and it is possible he translated the entire New Testament, while his associates translated the Old Testament. Wycliffe’s Bible appears to have been completed by 1384, with additional updated versions being done by Wycliffe’s assistant John Purvey and others in 1388 and 1395.
February 11, 2012
John Knox graphic by Kathy Grimm
John Knox (c. 1514 – 24 November 1572) was a Scottish clergyman and a leader of the Protestant Reformation who brought reformation to the church in Scotland. He was educated at the University of St Andrews or possibly the University of Glasgow and was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1536. Influenced by early church reformers such as George Wishart, he joined the movement to reform the Scottish church. He was caught up in the ecclesiastical and political events that involved the murder of Cardinal Beaton in 1546 and the intervention of the regent of Scotland, Mary of Guise. He was taken prisoner by French forces the following year and exiled to England on his release in 1549.
While in exile, The Rev. Knox was licensed to work in the Church of England, where he quickly rose in the ranks to serve King Edward VI of England as a royal chaplain. In this position, he exerted a reforming influence on the text of the Book of Common Prayer. In England he met and married his first wife, Marjorie. When Mary Tudor ascended the throne and re-established Roman Catholicism, Knox was forced to resign his position and leave the country.
Knox first moved to Geneva and then to Frankfurt. In Geneva, he met John Calvin, from whom he gained experience and knowledge of Reformed theology and Presbyterian polity. He created a new order of service, which was eventually adopted by the reformed church in Scotland. He left Geneva to head the English refugee church in Frankfurt but he was forced to leave over differences concerning the liturgy, thus ending his association with the Church of England.
On his return to Scotland, he led the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, in partnership with the Scottish Protestant nobility. The movement may be seen as a revolution, since it led to the ousting of Mary of Guise, who governed the country in the name of her young daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots. Knox helped write the new confession of faith and the ecclesiastical order for the newly created reformed church, the Kirk. He continued to serve as the religious leader of the Protestants throughout Mary’s reign. In several interviews with the Queen, Knox admonished her for supporting Catholic practices. Eventually, when she was imprisoned for her alleged role in the murder of her husband, Lord Darnley, and King James VI enthroned in her stead, he openly called for her execution. He continued to preach until his final days.
Many works of John Knox are free online at http://www.swrb.com/newslett/freebook/jknox.htm
February 3, 2012
Deitrich Bonhoeffer by Kathy Grimm
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (February 4, 1906 – April 9, 1945) was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, and anti-fascist. He was a participant in the German resistance movement against Nazism and a founding member of the Confessing Church. He was involved in plans by members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Adolf Hitler. He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and executed by hanging in April 1945, 23 days before the Nazis’ surrender. His view of Christianity’s role in the secular world has become very influential.