Women of the Reformation

I came across a blog recently that has a whole series of posts on various women of the Reformation. On this Reformation day, I thought I’d share. Some of the women are well-known: the wives of Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, as well as Lady Jane Grey, but many less well-known. I encourage you to read and remember the women who played such vital roles in the formation of the Protestant church.

The author of the blog prefaces the series:

Most of us are familiar with the great figures of the Protestant Reformation. Names like Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli are a few that come to mind. Yet, the story of the Reformation cannot be told without including the accounts of countless women who, alongside their male counterparts, played a vital role in the early formation of the Protestant Church.

In the spirit of the Reformation, these women defied human tradition to lay hold of eternal life. For most, a stand for the Gospel would cost them all they had. It meant enduring evil and hurtful slander from the religious establishment. Many were suddenly catapulted into a world of isolation and treated harshly by those who thought they were doing God a service. Some were called to lay down their lives and make the ultimate sacrifice. Yet, all of these women inherited something better and they stand with the throng of witnesses described in Hebrews 12 as an encouragement for us today.

Katharina Von Bora Luther
Idelette De Bure Calvin
Anna Reinhard Zwingli
Joan Waste
Anne Bradstreet
Renée de France
Katherina Schutz Zell
Argula Von Gumbach and Eizabeth of Braunschweig
Jeanne-d’Albret
Olympia Fulvia Morata
Lady Jane Grey
Catherine Willoughby
Anne Askewe

How Did Presbyterian Worship Become Episcoterian?

I ran across this article recently. The author discusses the shift in Presbyterian worship style towards a more Episcopalian or Anglican liturgy. Having wondered about this particular phenomenon, I was intrigued. I intend to do more research and write a more in depth article on the topic, but for today, I will just give a short excerpt from the article as food for thought:

The critical problem with Episcoterianism is that it is not based on or compatible with the doctrine that lays at the heart of all Presbyterian worship – the Regulative Principle – which states that “the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture” (WCF 21.1) The RPW is a logical outgrowth of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura and the integrally related doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture, and states that Christ alone has the authority to determine how his church should worship Him, and that He has done so in the Bible.

Episcoterian worship however is based upon the Anglican theory that “The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies” (The 39 Articles, Article 20) essentially stating that Christ has granted the church the authority to create new patterns for worship and to decree that congregations shall adopt and follow these patterns. Thus in Episcoterianism we see the introduction of many elements into worship that, while they may be ancient, are not prescribed in scripture such as vestments, the church year, lectionaries, processions, liturgies, the use of images, etc.

Of late this traditional worship is enjoying something of a revival in Presbyeterian churches, often as a result of the rejection of “contemporary” worship. In some congregations they have gone well beyond the old blended Episcoterianism of the 1950s and have instituted what can only be described as high-church Anglican or even Anglo-Catholic worship.

In the next article, I will examine historically how Episcoterianism crept into Presbyterianism in the late 1800s, but now I want to publish a document, Presbyterians Reject Prescribed Liturgies, that should show in detail how alien Episcoterianism is to Old School Presbyterianism.

The author then reproduces the full document “Presbyterians Reject Prescribed Liturgies” which lays out an argument against the use of liturgies. The whole article is worth reading. The following excerpt is from the conclusion:

Once more: prescribed Liturgies, which remain in use from age to age, have a tendency to fix, to perpetuate, and even to coerce the adoption and propagation of error. It is not forgotten, that the advocates of Liturgies urge, as an argument in their favour, a consideration directly the converse of this, viz., that they tend, by their scriptural and pious character, to extend and perpetuate the reign of truth in a Church. Where their character is really thus thoroughly scriptural, they may, no doubt, exert, in this respect, a favourable influence; but where they teach or insinuate error, the mischief can scarcely fail to be deep, deplorable, and transmitted from generation to generation. Of this, painful examples might be given, if it were consistent with the brevity of this sketch, to enter on such a field. On the whole, after carefully comparing the advantages and disadvantages of free and prescribed prayer, the argument, whether drawn from Scripture, from ecclesiastical history, or from daily experience, is clearly in favour of free or extemporary prayer. Its generally edifying character may, indeed, sometimes be marred by weak and ignorant men; but we have no hesitation in saying that the balance is manifestly in its favour. For, after all, the difficulty which sometimes occurs in rendering extemporary prayer impressive and edifying, is by no means obviated, in all cases, by the use of a Prayer-book. Who has not witnessed the recitation of devotional forms conducted in such a manner as to disgust every hearer of taste, and to banish all seriousness from the mind?

I believe the author may be on to something. I plan to do a good deal more reading on the subject. If you have any resources to suggest, please leave a comment.

Why I Am A “Daughter of the Reformation”

There are many reasons why I named my blog “A Daughter of the Reformation.” My family are Protestants as far back as we can research. My mother’s family are Scots-Irish Presbyterians. They came to the U.S. before the Revolutionary War, and they helped build many churches across the southern states over the years. I also have some French Huguenot ancestors, and that is what I want to tell you about today.

In the late 1600s, French King Louis XIV began to persecute the Protestant Christians, or Huguenots. Before King Louis XIV, the Huguenots had been allowed to live and worship with considerable freedom. Louis XIV, however, hated the Huguenots and revoked the Edict of Nantes that had protected their religious freedom. Many Huguenot families began to leave France, but it wasn’t always easy to do so as Louis XIV tried to prevent the mass exodus.

The Rochette family had succeeded in getting two of their older daughters safely to Amsterdam. The Reformed church in Holland helped many families escaping from France. Once the older Rochette daughters were safe in Amsterdam, they wrote back to their father, Moses Rochette, and asked that he send them the “Little Night Cap” they had left behind. The “Little Night Cap” was their little sister, Susannah. To get Susannah out of France, Moses put her in a hogshead barrel and placed on a merchant ship headed for Amsterdam. Susannah made it to her sisters in Holland.

Years later, when Susannah was grown, she married another Huguenot refugee, Abraham Micheaux. When King William of England offered to send Huguenot refugees to colonize Virginia, Abraham, Susannah, and their six children came to America. They helped to settle Virginia. Their daughter Anne Micheaux married Richard Woodson. Anne’s daughter, Elizabeth Woodson, married Nathaniel Venable, who is known for his service during the Revolutionary War. These are my ancestors.

When I think of the trials and dangers that my Protestant ancestors faced in order that they might worship freely, I hope I never take lightly the privileges and religious freedom I have today. I also hope that I can stand, as they did, for the truth in the face of adversity.