Category Archives: Church History

Fun Facts From Church History: A Little Known Influence on Luther

You may not be familiar with Johann Hilten, but he was a strange little Monk with some fairly bizarre apocalyptic inclinations who was fairly influential on Luther in terms of the latter’s self understanding.

In the Franciscan Convent at Eisenach, in Thuringia, was a monk named John Hilten. He was a careful student of the Prophet Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John; he even wrote a Commentary on these Books, and censured the most crying abuses of monastic life. The enraged monks threw him into prison. His advanced age, and the filthiness of his dungeon, bringing on a dangerous illness, he asked for the friar superintendant, who had no sooner arrived, than, without listening to the prisoner, he began to give vent to his rage, and to rebuke him harshly for his doctrine, which (adds the chronicle) was at variance with the monk’s kitchen.

The Franciscan, forgetting his illness, and fetching a deep sigh, exclaims, “I calmly submit to your injustice for the love of Christ; for I have done nothing to shake the monastic state, and have only censured its most notorious abuses. But,” continued he, (this is the account given by Melancthon in his Apology for the Confession of Augsburg,) “another will come in the year of the Lord one thousand five hundred and sixteen; he will destroy you, and you will not be able to resist him.”

John Hilten, who had announced the end of the world in the year 1651, was not so much mistaken in the year in which the future Reformer was to appear. He was born not long after at a short distance from Hilten’s dungeon, commenced his studies in the same town where the monk was prisoner, and publicly engaged in the Reformation only a year later than the Franciscan had mentioned.*

When Luther learned of Hilten, and discovered his anti-monastic vitriol, and most especially his ‘prophecy’ of a destroyer of the Monastic orders, it was hardly a stretch for Luther to see himself as the prophesied one. Which he did.

Funny, isn’t it, how people we barely know anything about somehow manage to be some of the greatest ‘influencers’ in Church History.
*J. H. Merle D’Aubigné, History of the Reformation in the Sixteenth Century (trans. Henry Beveridge and H. White; vol. 1; 1862), 70.

The Evil Angels According to Luther

The first evil angel is Tatian, with his Encratites, who forbade marriage and wanted to become righteous by their works, like the Jews. For the doctrine of works-righteousness had to be the first doctrine in opposition to the gospel; and it also remains the last, except that it is always getting new teachers and new names, such as the Pelagians, etc.

The second [evil angel] is Marcion, with his Cataphrygians, Manichaeans, Montanists, etc., who extol their own spirituality above all the Scriptures, and who move—like this burning mountain [8:8]—between heaven and earth, as, for example, Münzer and the fanatics in our day.

The third is Origen, who embittered and corrupted the Scriptures with philosophy and reason, as the universities have hitherto done among us.

The fourth is Novatus, with his Cathari, who denied penance and claimed to be purer than others. Of this same sort were, later, the Donatists. Our clergy, however, are all four [of these evil angels] at once. The scholars who know history will be able to figure this out, for it would take too long to relate and prove everything [here].*

Scholars of our own day will recognize that every heresy ever to assault the Church has been around since the beginning.  From the Montanists to the Pentebabbleists and from the Origenists to the Emergents and from the Novations to the Osteenites and everything in between.  When it comes to heresy, there really is nothing new under the sun and every new evil is just an old evil renewed.

*Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 35: Word and Sacrament I (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 35; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 402–404.

Reformation on the Record Lecture Announcement

From ‘Reformation on the Record’-

Also, very excited about this upcoming event – a unique opportunity to hear the fantastic Jonathan Willis, Diarmaid MacCulloch and Alex Walsham reflecting on the records of the Reformation, their relevance today and the impact of last year’s anniversary of the beginning of the European Reformation. This will take place on the 13th April at The National Archives between 18.00 and 20.00. The event includes a display of original Reformation-related documents and a wine reception (in separate areas!) – to book search for ‘Reflections on the Reformation’ on Eventbrite #ReformationOnRec

A Great Quote from the Selderhuis Luther Lecture at Westminster

Is this one-

Here’s the full quote from which that excellent snippet is extracted:

He has accomplished what he was called to do. He has introduced among us [the knowledge of] languages, and has called us away from the sacrilegious studies. Perhaps he himself will die with Moses in the plains of Moab, for he does not advance to the better studies (those which pertain to piety). I greatly wish he would restrain himself from dealing with Holy Scripture and writing his Paraphrases, for he is not up to this task; he takes the time of [his] readers in vain, and he hinders them in studying Scripture. He has done enough in showing us the evil. He is (in my opinion) unable to show us the good and to lead us into the promised land. But why do I talk so much of Erasmus? Only so that you will not be influenced by his name and authority, but rather be happy when you feel that something displeases him in this matter of Scripture. For he is a man who is unable to have, or does not want to have, a right judgment in these matters, as almost the whole world is beginning to perceive of him.*

*Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 49: Letters II (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 49; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 44.   Text in Latin: WA, Br 3, 96–97.  Emphasis mine.

The Biblical Canon Lists From Early Christianity

Oxford U press have sent  some weeks back a review copy of Gallagher and Meade’s new book.

The Bible took shape over the course of centuries, and today Christian groups continue to disagree over details of its contents. The differences among these groups typically involve the Old Testament, as they mostly accept the same 27-book New Testament. An essential avenue for understanding the development of the Bible are the many early lists of canonical books drawn up by Christians and, occasionally, Jews. Despite the importance of these early lists of books, they have remained relatively inaccessible. This comprehensive volume redresses this unfortunate situation by presenting the early Christian canon lists all together in a single volume. The canon lists, in most cases, unambiguously report what the compilers of the lists considered to belong to the biblical canon. For this reason they bear an undeniable importance in the history of the Bible.

The Biblical Canon Lists from Early Christianity provides an accessible presentation of these early canon lists. With a focus on the first four centuries, the volume supplies the full text of the canon lists in English translation alongside the original text, usually Greek or Latin, occasionally Hebrew or Syriac. Edmon L. Gallagher and John D. Meade orient readers to each list with brief introductions and helpful notes, and they point readers to the most significant scholarly discussions. The book begins with a substantial overview of the history of the biblical canon, and an entire chapter is devoted to the evidence of biblical manuscripts from the first millennium. This authoritative work is an indispensable guide for students and scholars of biblical studies and church history.

I appreciate the review copy but was a bit surprised when the cover letter which arrived with it was addressed to someone named Michael Kruger.  I’m not sure who Michael Kruger is but I am positive I am not him.

The volume is made up of six chapters, an introduction, an appendix, a bibliography, and a couple of indices.  In regard to the chapters these are

  1. The Development of the Christian Biblical Canon: A Survey of the Early Period
  2. Jewish Lists
  3. Greek Christian Lists
  4. Latin Christian Lists
  5. The Syriac Christian List
  6. Selected Greek, Syriac, Latin, and Hebrew Manuscripts

These ‘canon lists’ are relatively hard to find in one place and the present volume solves that problem.

What counts, and what counted as Scripture in various communities across Christian history is a very important question because when we talk cavalierly about ‘the Bible’ we have to specify, even now, what we mean by that.  Do we mean the Hebrew Bible?  Do we mean the Greek Bible?  The Protestant Bible?

The question becomes even more complicated the closer we get to the early Church.  Now we have canons by the dozens and we have to ask even more specific questions about whose canon we’re discussing.  Do we include the Shepherd of Hermas?  Revelation?  The Didache?  1-2 Maccabees? Judith?

How did Christianity manage to develop within its fold so many varieties of Scripture and how did they differentiate between them?  Those are the questions this very helpful study discuss.

The volume has a decent ‘feel’ about it in terms of typography and layout.  The only shortcoming, in my view, is the exceptionally small font used for the Greek and Syriac and Latin texts.  I realize that I’m advancing in age whilst no one else seems to be, but tiny font is uncomfortable to deal with.

Footnotes are copious and thorough.  In some instances there is more note than text, which is perfectly fine with me.

Will readers find the present work helpful?  I think so.  Will it be useful for undergrad and graduate students?  Certainly.  Will readers ‘read through it’ as though it were a monograph or a novel?  I think probably not.  This volume feels more like a reference resource than it does a ‘read right on through it’ book.  People interested in Greek canon lists will refer to that chapter whilst persons interested in Latin lists will find their home there.

I think the volume is completely worth the reader’s time.  Just not all at once.  The reading of lists can be a tiresome task and of the making of book lists there is no end.  Fortunately, here, readers find all the essential lists in one location and don’t have to waste a lot of time trying to track them down in various places and volumes.  For that alone our authors are to be thanked.

Today in Church History: The Publication of the Second Helvetic Confession

Schaff remarks

second helvetic[The Second Helvetic Confession, written by Bullinger] was published at Zuerich, March 12, 1566, in both [German and Latin], at public expense, and was forwarded to the Elector of the Palatinate and to Philip of Hesse. A French translation appeared soon afterwards in Geneva under the care of Beza.

Happy birthday to the greatest of the Swiss Confessions.

The Controversy over the Lord’s Supper in Danzig, 1561-1567

In 1561, a Eucharistic controversy erupted in Danzig of the sixteenth century, sparked by disagreements on the real presence and the practical treatment of the Eucharistic elements. It was one of many inner-Lutheran struggles over the Lord’s Supper in the years following the Reformation and therefore Bjørn Ole Hovda supplements the scientific studies on that topic. Different understandings of the presence of Christ during the Lord’s Supper formed different religious norms of practice. On the one hand, the controversy is here analyzed as a discussion on doctrine between opposing ecclesiastical factions, set in the context of reformatory theology and liturgical practice. The theological discussions had important practical and cultic implications. One the other hand – and in contrast with the most of earlier works – the study seeks to treat with equal seriousness the wider societal and political aspects of the controversy. Hovda shows how deeply embedded the Eucharist was within broader discourses of culture, society and politics. Far from being just an abstruse ecclesiastical matter, it was a question of great sociopolitical interest and potency. The Eucharist served both as the prime symbol of Christian unity, as well as a confessional border stone between rivaling groups.Other important aspects of this wider analysis are tensions between the ordained ministry and the city council regarding authority, internal social tensions within the city, as well as the strategic interests of the city in its relations to the Polish crown, the Hanseatic league and the emerging new trading powers, among others.Through a close study of one particular controversy, light is cast on a variety of issues with relevance to the broader field of Reformation studies, especially concerning the centrality of the Eucharist.

This volume arrived from the publisher a while back.  It has to be said, first, that the table of contents (which is meticulously full) and the front matter are available to readers at the link in the sentence above.  And second, it has to be said that this present study is a very important contribution to a very important sub-field of Reformation History.

It’s a well known fact that the Eucharistic Controversy was the core conflict among the Reformers.  But that conflict didn’t end with Luther and Zwingli.  Among Luther’s own followers there was serious doubt cast on Luther’s reading of the Supper.  This revised doctoral dissertation takes us on a guided tour of just one sliver of that widespread debate.

The Eucharistic controversy in Danzig (Dantzigk) began in 1561, when the minister (Prediger) Erhard Sperber accused his colleague, Veit Neuber, of irreverent treatment of the remaining elements of the Lord’s Supper, and of rejecting a continuing real presence after communion. In response, Sperber was accused of a new sort of “Papism.” Anxious to avoid unrest, the city council started a process of investigation and interrogation in order to resolve the conflict. Sperber was deported, and Neuber later left the city. Among the clergy, however, the controversy over the understanding of the real presence and the practical treatment of the sacrament continued.

Having thus set the stage, Hovda specifies further

The furious tensions in the controversy are striking. The object of disagreement must have been regarded as something tremendously important. It was not only intellectualistic hairsplitting; it was an integral element of devotion, faith, identity, society and politics. When we study this controversy, it is natural to inquire into the background and the reason for the tensions, and the reason for the success of one of the parties. The present study hopes to shed light on central aspects of the diversity of early Lutheran tradition, and on the role of the Eucharistic controversies on the road to parallel and uniform confessions.

It is the fact of diversity within the Lutheran communion itself which will strike readers most forcefully.  Luther’s bold declarations at Marburg were not adhered to even by his closest friend, Melanchthon.

Melanchthon rejects the idea that “the bread is substantially the body of Christ,” as well as that “the bread is the true body of Christ.” Instead, he claims that the bread is “united with” (consociatio cum) the body of Christ, and only “in the use” and “not without cognition,” not in such a way that it could be eaten by mice. He rejects the idea that the body is “in the bread or in the species of the bread, as if the true sacrament was instituted for the sake of the bread and the Papist adoration.”

Lutherans may be shocked by that viewpoint but readers of this volume will discover a range of belief within their camp which they never imagined existed.  Luther persuaded Luther- but he didn’t persuade Zwingli or Melanchthon or Calvin or Bullinger or many, many Lutherans.

As the study fleshes itself out, we are informed that:

Each party in the controversy in Danzig held that the opposite party did not understand the doctrine of Extra usum correctly. As we have seen, this axiom, developed by Melanchthon, was interpreted quite heterogeneously within Lutheranism. The difference in the interpretations was closely integrated into the disagreement over Eucharistic practice and the understanding of the mode and duration of the real presence and of how it came into existence.

And by the 17th century, we are gloriously informed:

… there appears to have been no theologian who defended the worship of Christ’s flesh in the sacrament. In this regard, the Melanchthonian Eucharistic theology prevailed at the cost of Luther’s.

This is a fantastic study and worth the reader’s rapt attention.   Especially will those who hold to the false notion that Luther’s views were Lutheran views benefit from an accurate historical examination.

How Reform Began in Zurich

Reform began slowly but surely, first with worship. Lent was abandoned as a man made tradition in 1522 and by 1523 the Mass itself was replaced with ‘The Lord’s Supper’. Silver ‘Mass utensils’, cups, and bowls were replaced with common wood. Tables were set up in the Sanctuary so that the Supper more resembled a supper. Images were removed, worship was reorganized, and the Reform gained speed and strength through a series of public debates which Zwingli and his colleagues in Reform easily won.*

*Jim West, “Christ Our Captain”: An Introduction to Huldrych Zwingli (Quartz Hill, CA: Quartz Hill Publishing House, 2011), 15–16.

Today With Zwingli: A Letter of Assurance

On 8 March, 1525, in the midst of the controversy with the Re-Baptizing radicals Zwingli wrote a letter to a fellow named Jodocus Hesch.  In it, he confirms his brotherly affection for Hesch and insists that that affection won’t be affected by anything he might hear by word or letter.

Quam equidem conditionem sic tecum subiturus sum, ut nulla sit unquam ętas de perfidia nostra querimoniam ullam habitura; pollicere igitur de nobis non uti de reconciliato hoste, sed uti de fratre, quocum nulla unquam offensio intercessit. Que praesentium lator ad nos attulit, optime curata sunt. Verum, heus tu, senatus noster indubiemaiorem fidem servaturus est, quam ulle possent litere, presertim hoc rerum statu, quo, si vel iota unum excideret [Matth. 5. 18], fieret tota Ilias. Ut ergo amicum ad nos misisti nullis munitum pignoribus, quod equidem pro maximo pignore puto, vis enim tibi fidem haberi, id quod purę plerumque consciencie postulant: sic et nos eundem carissimum et fidelissimum fratrem nostrum ad te remittimus, qui ore ad os, quod dicitur, omnia non modo referet, sed etiam aget tecum.

When Zwingli was your friend, he was loyal to the end.  When he wasn’t… well…

Fun Facts from Church History: Not Everyone Liked Farel

farel[One] Mr. Ducrest, who had a seat in the ordinary council [of Geneva] as one of the ancient syndics, and who was at the head of the Popish party in the city, repeatedly attacked Farel with great violence of language in the Council, and threatened that if a stop was not put to his preaching, the people would lay violent hands on him.*

Farel wasn’t beloved by everyone…  Surprising, I know.

*Thomas M’Crie and William Ferguson, The Early Years of John Calvin (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1880), 149.

Fun Facts from Church History: Luther’s Dread

luther65Luther left the Wartburg on March 1, 1522, arriving at Wittenberg on March 6. One of the first things he did was to preach a series of eight sermons, during the week beginning March 9, in an effort to counteract the extreme reforms which had been forced through by Karlstadt and Gabriel Zwilling.  Luther was by no means opposed to reform measures, but he held that they should be brought about by persuasion, not compulsion.*

One of those sermons was on marriage, which Luther commences thusly:

How I dread preaching on the estate of marriage! I am reluctant to do it because I am afraid if I once get really involved in the subject it will make a lot of work for me and for others. The shameful confusion wrought by the accursed papal law has occasioned so much distress, and the lax authority of both the spiritual and the temporal swords has given rise to so many dreadful abuses and false situations, that I would much prefer neither to look into the matter nor to hear of it. But timidity is no help in an emergency; I must proceed. I must try to instruct poor bewildered consciences, and take up the matter boldly.

And then of course he does.

*Luther’s works, vol. 45 : The Christian in Society II p. 13.

Semper Reformanda: John Calvin, Worship, and Reformed Traditions

A recent volume, sent for review by the good folk at V&R, offers readers a glimpse into the afterlife of Calvin’s ecclesial reforms.

The chapters in this volume contribute to recent scholarship exploring the reform of worship as a central feature of Protestant communities at their inception and through the ages. Case studies ranging from sixteenth-century Geneva and its environs to the early modern Netherlands and South Asia to nineteenth-century America provide a corrective to traditional depictions of Reformed worship as a static, sober, interior, and largely individual experience focused on the sermon. The key moments in the broad stream of Reformed worship traditions analysed by an international team of experts yield collectively an image of the adaptive and negotiated character of worship attitudes and practices over time and in varied cultural settings. The contributions examine the phenomenon of worship in broadly construed ways and from angles ranging from ritual studies, liturgical innovation, material culture, and social impact. A second ‘red thread’ running through the volume concerns the material, sensory, emotional, and experiential dimensions of Reformed religious culture. Worship emerges as both a site of conflict and renewal in Reformed traditions, inspiring not only confrontations and debates but also fruitful engagements that stimulated and continue to invite reflection on this critical category of Reformed faith traditions, self-understandings, and cultural impact.

The link above takes potential readers to a pdf of the front matter, table of contents, and sample chapter of the volume, so those materials won’t be repeated here.

John Calvin was the most influential theologian ever to inhabit the city of Geneva.  And his influence out lived him by over five centuries and counting.  Why is that?  Is that so at all?

The essays in this collection offer answers to that question.  So, for example, Maag justifies her contribution to the volume by writing

This contribution will build on this recent scholarship challenging the received notion of Geneva as a Protestant citadel where everyone lived and worshipped as Reformed Christians, providing evidence from a range of primary sources that shows that Genevans, their extended families, and visitors had a much more flexible attitude towards acceptable expressions of worship and devotion.

So, by working through a series of case studies, Maag is able to show that

These cases and others highlight the persistent power of Catholic worship practices and rituals in the minds and hearts of Genevans, especially given the close ties between these practices and their sense of family loyalty and tradition.

The notion, then, that Calvin was able to mold Geneva into his image is just simply wrong.  Similarly, the other essays in the work show readers that preconceptions about Calvin’s influence need to be re-thought.

When it comes to the quality of the essays, they are uniformly helpful.  But the best of the lot is Andrew Spicer’s The Material Culture of the Lord’s Supper: Adiaphora, Beakers, and Communion Plate in the Dutch Republic.  It is so well written and so wonderfully illustrated that readers will wish the title had been as lively as the content.

While there was no restriction on attendance at sermons and the ministers were expected to baptize any infant that was brought to them, the Reformed Church closely controlled access to the Lord’s Supper. Only those who were regarded as worthy by the ministers and ecclesiastical authorities were allowed to participate. This meant submitting to the oversight and consistorial discipline of the Church, to preserve the sanctity of the rite. Relatively few members of the community were prepared to submit themselves to this level of intrusive scrutiny and examination; it was estimated in 1587 that only one in ten people in Holland were full members of the Reformed Church.

The things one learns here.  Amazing.  This volume is worthy of the attention of all who are interested in the outworking of Calvin’s reform.

The volume includes very helpful bibliographies along with each essay so that readers are armed for further research.  I recommend it.

Fun Facts From Church History: Luther’s Lectures on Psalm Two and a Post-Mortem Slam on Zwingli

7headedlutherIn 1532 Luther lectured on Psalm two on the following dates: March 5, April 9, April 16, May 27, May 28, June 8, July 5. He took his time with the text (obviously) and in the course of those lectures snidely remarked

That the kings and rulers rage against us at the present time, that Zwingli, Carlstadt, and others cause disturbances in the church, that burghers and peasants condemn the Gospel, is therefore nothing new or unusual.


Münzer stirs up an uproar in Thuringia. Carlstadt and Zwingli stir up horrible disturbances in the church when they try to persuade others that in Communion the body and blood of Christ are not received orally, but only bread and wine. Others join them, and gradually this pernicious doctrine fills France, Italy, and other nations.


“These things have happened through no fault of mine, therefore let the authors of these evils torture themselves. Not I. I shall do and I shall indeed try everything I can to alleviate these evils somewhat, but if I am unable to do so, I shall not on that account consume myself in sorrow. If one Münzer, Carlstadt, or Zwingli is not enough for Satan, he may stir up many more. I know that the nature of this kingdom is such that Satan cannot bear it. He labors with hands and feet with all his might that he may disturb the churches and oppose the Word.”

And several other times as well. That Luther lumps Zwingli with the Radicals is no surprise. What is surprising is his willingness to speak so ill of the dead. Indeed, of the dead not long dead!

Luther: he was a real jerk. (He’s been dead long enough one can say so without any twinge of guilt).

Fun Facts From Church History: The Lutheran Bigamist and Luther’s Wink and Nod

luther_melancthon2From Luther’s table talk-

When news of the bigamy of Hesse spread abroad, the doctor [Martin Luther] said with a serene countenance, “He’s a remarkable man. He has his [propitious] star. I think he wishes to obtain it [consent for his bigamy] through the emperor and the pope in order to gratify his desire. It’s also possible that he may defect from us as a result of this business.”

The editor remarks

Landgrave Philip of Hesse, a prominent evangelical prince who had been unhappily married to the daughter of Duke George of Saxony (cf. No. 275, n. 118) and had been resorting to a succession of prostitutes, finally decided to end his immoral conduct by marrying Margaret von der Sale. The theologian Martin Bucer (cf. No. 184, n. 64) interceded in his behalf with Luther and Melanchthon, who reluctantly gave their approval to the proposed marriage on condition that the arrangements be kept secret. On March 4, 1540, the marriage took place. When it became widely known soon after, a scandal resulted.

That because Philip was still legally married when he married his second wife.  Luther wasn’t too bothered by it.  I suppose the support of the Prince was more valuable to Luther than propriety.

The Publication of the Proceedings of the First Zurich Disputation

The Young Zwingli

It only took a couple of months after the First Zurich Disputation concluded (in January, 1523) for the proceedings to be printed and published by Froschauer at the direction of the Council (on 3 March).

The First Zurich Disputation was the apex of years of work and it was at the same time the victory of the new Reformed theology over the old Catholic faith.  The dispute was conducted in German (instead of Latin) and published in the same.  It opens

Handlung der versamlung in der löblichen statt Zürich uff den 29. tag jenners vonn wegen des heyligen euangelii zwischen der ersamen treffenlichen bottschafft von Costentz, Huldrichen Zwingli, predigers des euangelii Christi und gemeiner priesterschafft des gantzen gebiets der egenanten statt Zürich vor geseßnem radt beschehen im 1523. jar.

The entire thing is a delightful read- and it even includes brilliant flashes of humor and levity.

The Wassy Massacre: Farel’s Murder was the Objective

March 1, 1562, Huguenot worshippers are massacred under the orders of Francis, Duke of Guise in Wassy, France. It is recognized as the first major event in the French Wars of religion.



Francis was despised by Calvin, who, in his commentary on Daniel, writes

Who knows not the crafty, treacherous, and intriguing wickedness of the Queen-mother, CATHERINE OF MEDICI? Who knows not the ambitious worldliness of the two sons of CLAUDE OF LORRAINE—Francis, the DUKE OF GUISE—the savage butcher of the HUGUENOTS of Champagne, and Charles, the CARDINAL LORRAINE, the subtle agent of Rome’s most hateful policy? These artful brothers worked their way to supreme influence in the national councils.

Interestingly, though, it was an act aimed at Farel rather than Calvin!

Enraged at [Farel’s] success, the Roman Catholics of that city formed the detestable design of massacring him and his congregation. The renegade Caroli seems to have been at the head of this plot. At his instigation the Duke of Guise sent a company of infantry, together with some cavalry, to fall upon the congregation at Gorze; which on Easter day, 1543, had assembled to the number of 300, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Service was ended, and the congregation preparing to depart, when suddenly the trumpet was heard; and Guise’s band, led by his son the Duke d’Aumale, fell upon the helpless and unsuspecting multitude. Numbers were slaughtered, and it was with difficulty that Furstenberg and Farel escaped into the castle; whence the count afterward got Farel removed, at considerable hazard, to Strasburgh, with a wagon-load of the wounded. This foul and cowardly massacre is said to have been sanctioned by the French king.

That evil act was just the first of many brutalities against the Reformed of France.

Fun Facts from Church History

In the 16th century a distinction was made between the ‘poor’ and the ‘deserving poor’.  In general terms, the ‘deserving poor’ were members of one’s own Church community who lived properly and dressed properly and avoided gambling and promiscuity.  These persons were granted Church aid.  The ‘poor’, i.e., unworthy beggars and members of another faith weren’t.

The unworthy sort were ‘shown the door’, so to speak, at the tip of the whip (as this delightful woodcut from the era shows) –