Five hundred years ago a monk by the name of Martin Luther (1483-1546) is said to have posted 95 Theses, propositions for discussion or debate, on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. From that time the Reformation grew and experienced many divisions.
Our little album of some of the leaders of the Reformation is just a reminder of the work done by these individuals. Many of them did not see clearly the teaching of the New Testament scriptures, but they knew that changes were necessary in the Roman Catholic Church which had dominated both the religious and political thinking of Europe for many centuries.
The first photo is of a statue of Luther in Wittenberg.
Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) was a leader in the Reformation in eastern Switzerland. He took a more conservative stance than Luther on a number of issues.
John Knox (c. 1514-1572) is known as a leader in the founding of the Presbyterian Church. In this statue Knox is portrayed as pointing to the Bible as the message of the Reformation.
Early leaders of the American Restoration Movement, such as Barton W. Stone, Thomas Campbell, and Alexander Campbell, were Presbyterians. Through their study of the Scripture they came to differ with Knox and other Reformers on the doctrine of Predestination, sprinkling as a mode of baptism, and the use of creeds.
I have seen the Reformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland, but it has been many years ag0. The reformers who are shown on this monument are left to right: Guillaume Farel, Johannes Calvin, Theodore de Beze, and John Knox.
There were earlier leaders of what some call Forerunners of the Reformation. These include such men as Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe, John Hus, and Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498). Savonarola was known as a Dominican scholar in Florence, Italy. His opposition seemed to be less doctrinal and more pointed at the moral failings of the Church. A marker indicated the place where he was burned at the stake in Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy.
The Eye Witness Travel Guide of Italy (DK) says,
The piazza’s statues … commemorate the city’s historical events, but its most famous episode is celebrated by a simple pavement plaque near the loggia, the execution of the religious leader Girolamo Savonarola, who was burned at the stake.
One of the earliest Pre-Reformers was Jan Hus in Prague, now part of the Czech Republic.
Martin Muller gives this little sketch about Hus and the movement associated with him.
The large monument in the middle of the Old Town Square in Prague is the statue of the reformer Jan Hus (John Huss), one of the most important personalities in Czech history. A hundred years before the Protestant Reformation was started by Martin Luther, Jan Hus was burnt as a heretic for reformist ideas.
Master Jan Hus (c. 1373-1415), the dean of the Charles University in Prague, criticized church practices such as selling indulgence. He used to preach in the Bethlehem Chapel in Prague and he was excommunicated by the pope for his ideas in 1410. Despite that, he continued in preaching and he had many followers in Prague, that´s why the pope interdicted the whole city of Prague in 1414. Finally, Jan Hus was invited to the Council in Constance and he was asked to renounce his ideas. He refused, and he was burnt at the stake as a heretic on 6 th July 1415.
The influence of these men is felt far and wide even by those who can not recite their names or locations.
Note: I intended this post to be several weeks earlier, but have had a computer drive failure. Who knows what the article would have been like had I been able to complete it earlier?