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As visitors to ‘At the BookShelf’ would know, I have been reading ‘Reformers and Their Stepchildren,’ by Leonard Verduin. I have now started chapter four and progress through the book may appear slow and you may think this is a reflection on the quality of the book. That would be a mistaken assumption however.
In reality I am finding the book a brilliant treatment of the differences between the ‘partial reformers’ (such as Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc) and the more ‘radical reformer’ who sought a complete transformation of the church to that which more accurately reflected the New Testament model.
The ‘slowness’ of my reading is more a reflection of my reading half a dozen or so books at the same time. Reading so many books at any given time is fairly normal for me – in fact, I would call normal (for me) reading far more books at any given time, but I am trying to reign myself in a little here. I just love reading – I am a bibliophile and bookworm remember 🙂
The third chapter of Verduin’s work has to do with the lack of true church discipline in the churches of the Reformers and their indifference (generally speaking) to ungodliness in the church (remembering that their churches basically included all in a given location or region).
The third chapter presents a very clear case of the real time contradiction of the Reformers and the reform they were bringing to bear on such places as Geneva, Zurich, etc. To a large extent their work of reform didn’t go anywhere near far enough to satisfy their ‘stepchildren,’ who when they tried to go further were branded as heretics, with their efforts at a more thorough reform being identified by the reformers as evidence of their heresy.
It is a very engaging chapter I believe and one that is helpful for shedding light on Christianity even to this day.
I have been reading ‘The Reformers and Their Stepchildren,’ by Leonard Verduin, in the last week or so. It is not the first time that I have read this book, having read it some time ago – probably 10 years ago now I would say.
This is a book that I would recommend to any believer, but particularly to a Reformed believer, whether he be Paedobaptist or Baptist. Verduin seeks to analyse the Reformation and the relationship between the Reformers and their ‘stepchildren’ from a Biblical standpoint, rather than any particular denominational standpoint. Though he does defend the stepchildren, he does so only when they are in line with Scriptural teaching on the point being discussed within that particular chapter.
Who are the stepchildren? The stepchildren or the ‘second front,’ as Verduin also describes them, are those believers who sought a complete reforming of the church. In fact, it may be fair to say that these believers sought a complete break from the Romish church, and a new church built on the teachings of Scripture and modelled on the New Testament church alone.
The frustration for these nonconformist believers was that the reform movement only went so far and did not result in the complete renewal that they desired and that the situation required.
Thus far I have read only the first two chapters of the book and once again I am finding it a very worthwhile read. I find myself in substantial agreement with the position of many of the stepchildren and with Verduin. With as much respect as I have for the Reformers, such as John Calvin, Martin Luther and John Knox, I too would have found myself frustrated at the level of reform achieved by them (though they were better men than I). A complete break and renewal would have been the way forward I believe.
The first two chapters deal with the joint secular-religious church-state that was set up at both the time of Constantine and then at the Reformation in the various Protestant nations that embraced the Reformation. They deal with the all-embracing religion that was constructed in such centres as Geneva and the ‘unified’ approach to it, as well as the reaction of the stepchildren and their withdrawal from it.
This book is as close to a must read for believers as there is I think – especially of the Reformed persuasion.
My copy of the book (paperback) is by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. and was printed in 1964.
from the Reformation to the Beginning of the Reign of King George I, by Thomas Crosby
As noted in a previous post, I have been reading ‘The History of the English Baptists from the Reformation to the Beginning of the Reign of King George I,’ by Thomas Crosby. I have also been adding this work to my website (a link to this book appears at the end of this post).
I have now completed reading and adding the preface, table of contents and part of the first chapter.
The preface covers the period from the early church through to the first Baptists in England, tracing the origins of the Baptists and disproving their rise to that of the Anabaptists at Munster and the disaster that occurred in that city as a result of the Anabaptist rebellion.
Though a lengthy preface, it briefly touches on such as the Albigenses, the Waldenses, Wickcliff, Donatists, etc. Crosby goes back through history, from the reformation to the first century finding evidence of Baptistic beliefs and practices. It is a very interesting study, even though it is brief. Another interesting aspect of this study is the evidence for early Baptistic existence, even in the writings of Paedobaptist authors and the evidence against the early practice of infant-baptism in the early church.
To read the preface and further, please follow the link below: