The Renaissance of the Gospel
A famous seventeenth-century Dutch engraving, known as The Candlestick, pictures the Reformers of the sixteenth century, and certain others, gathered around a table on which shines a candle. Among the divines represented is the German Martin Luther, the French John Calvin, the Swiss Uldrich Zwingli, the Czech John Hus, the Scotsman John Knox, the Slav Matthias Flaius Illyricus, and the Englishman William Perkins. Because these various leaders often represented conflicting theological viewpoints, it takes some imagination to envision them meeting together so peacefully.
However, though the picture is incomplete, it does furnish a fair graphic representation of the character of the European Protestant Reformation. Born in Germany, it was not confined to the world of the small German states. Already in the 1530s Lutheranism penetrated and sank roots in the Scandinavian countries.
In the Swiss cantons of Zurich, Bern, and Basel of the Helvetic Confederation, and in the free republic of Geneva, a vigorous reform of the Church took place. This movement, which was parallel to, but not identical with Lutheranism, we call reformed Protestantism. From this base reform spread out all over Europe—from France to the Netherlands, to East Central Europe—and later to the New World.
The Reformation in England was certainly more than an act of Parliament. To the building up of the Anglican Church (ecclesia anglicana) contributed numerous and able theologians, such as Thomas Cranmer and Hugh Latimer. In Scotland, between 1557 and 1560, the preaching of John Knox had great and decisive influence upon the small landed aristocracy (the Lairds), who, against the will of the staunchly Catholic Queen Mary (“Bloody Mary”), imposed Calvinism as the state ...