Calvin’s Ministry To The Waldensians -- By: Chris Accardy

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 10:4 (Fall 2001)
Article: Calvin’s Ministry To The Waldensians
Author: Chris Accardy


Calvin’s Ministry To The Waldensians

Chris Accardy

American evangelicals are waking up to the fact that something is amiss in our movement. Reformation movements have been springing up in nearly every tradition with roots in the Protestant Reformation. If we are to follow the model of our forefathers in the original Reformation we must look beyond waging a war in print, hoping those in need of reform will read our books and magazines and even attend our conferences. The Reformers did produce volumes of literature and the Word of God thundered from untold numbers of pulpits. Yet, the Reformers were also men of action. They went beyond publishing and preaching. John Calvin was one of the most activist Reformers of his day. He did not spend his days sitting in a corner office somewhere in Geneva doing nothing but writing books and composing sermons. If we believe this myth, we miss much of Calvin’s ministry as a pastor.

Calvin fought the battle for reformation, not only with words, but also as an activist. He exerted tremendous influence on many strands of the Reformation. Unfortunately, his work, and the work of the other Reformers in the practical sphere, has given way to analysis of their theological insights. Thus, we often are left with the impression that the Reformation was simply a battle of ideas. It was not. The Reformation was also about action—practical action that made a real impact on the lives of people.

The following is a report describing some of the practical

work of the Reformers, particularly John Calvin, in the midst of the Protestant Reformation. It is the story of the Waldensians, and how they were brought into the Reformation cause. It is a story of John Calvin as an activist pastor, who put his convictions into action. Most of all, it is a lesson for us today, if we are to be Reformers in our own day and age.

The Waldensians

The Waldensian church began as a non-conformist movement toward the end of the twelfth century. Peter Waldo founded the movement when he sought to gain heaven through evangelical poverty. He paid his debts, provided for his family, gave the rest of his wealth away to the poor, and began begging daily bread. Inspired by a vernacular translation of the New Testament, Waldo sought to imitate Christ in both his life and message.1

Soon Waldo amassed followers who, like him, took up evangelical poverty and began preaching from a vernacular translation of the Bible. Despite their high esteem of the Scriptures, they did not initially oppose official Roman Catholic teaching. However, this did not prevent the Archbishop of Lyons from ...

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