Reformation 500 WEEK 22 John calvin and strassburg
Calvin arrived in the German city of Strasbourg in September, 1538, a few months after he and Farel had been banished from Geneva. “Strasbourg was a crossroads between France, Germany, Switzerland and the Low Countries. Various currents of Reformation thought met there. German Lutherans stood side by side with French Evangelicals, Anabaptists from the Low Countries and Zwinglians from Switzerland. All the various doctrines mingled in a great stream of life and activity under the peaceable direction of [Martin] Bucer [1491-1551]” (Cadier, 91-92).
Bucer (17 years older than Calvin) had been won for the Reformation by Luther during the great Leipzig Debate (1518), and he had witnessed first-hand the failure of Luther and Zwingli to agree at the Marburg Colloquy (1529). “He tried to find a middle ground between Luther and Zwingli in regard to the nature of the Lord’s Supper” (Greg Singer, Dictionary of Christianity, 2:207).
While in Strasbourg, Calvin “became pastor of the church of the French refugees, followers of Luther in France who had fled to Strasbourg to escape persecution. He also gave lectures in theology” (Kuiper, 196). He “published his first commentary, that on the Epistle to the Romans,” which “shows clearly that Calvin was, from the first, a prince of exegetes” (Cadier, 96). He also prepared a greatly enlarged edition of the Institutes. “He converted many Anabaptists…who brought to him from the city and country their children for baptism” (Schaff, 8:369).
“God in His providence had placed Calvin’s future wife in his congregation. Idelette de Bure, her husband Jean Stordeur, and their two children had come to Strasbourg as Anabaptists. After listening to Calvin’s faithful exposition of God’s Word, as well as having private conversations with Calvin, they embraced his Reformed views and had their youngest child baptized. In the spring of 1540, Jean Stordeur was stricken with the plague and died. A few months later, just as Calvin had almost given up any hope of finding a wife, Bucer asked him to consider Idelette. John and Idelette were married in August 1540” (DeMar, Reformation, 206).
Meanwhile back in Geneva, certain enemies of Calvin were threatening to return the city to the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Sadoleto, a very able man, had written a clever letter in which he tried to persuade the citizens of Geneva to return to the Roman Church. At the request of the council of Geneva, “Calvin, setting aside all hard feeling against the Genevans…wrote a brilliant Rely to Sadoleto” (Kuiper, 196). This Reply “was one of the means of saving Geneva from the grasp of popery, and endearing Calvin to the friends of freedom” (Schaff, 8:425).
When the party which was friendly to Calvin held power again in Geneva, the city Council begged Calvin to return, “convinced that Calvin alone could save the city from anarchy” (Schaff, 8:430). Calvin at first refused, but when Farel wrote to threaten him again with the wrath of God, Calvin finally gave in again. ‘If I had any choice I would rather do anything than to give in to you in this matter, but since I remember that I no longer belong to myself, I offer my heart to God as a sacrifice’ (Cadier, 105).
“Amid great rejoicing and an enthusiastic ovation Calvin entered Geneva a second time, on September 13, 1541” (Kuiper, 197).
NOTE: These Posts were written and designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .
Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert: Reformation 500 John Calvin and Strassburg
For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 22
|Official Seal of the RCUS|
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS). As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began. We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.