Author Archives for ElizabethB

A Tiny Biography of Menno Simmons

October 26, 2017 7:00 am Published by 1 Comment

NAME: Menno Simmons BIRTH: 1496, date unknown DEATH: January 31, 1561 HOMETOWN: Witmarsum, Friesland, modern-day Netherlands VOCATION: Catholic priest, Anabaptist pastor and author FAMILY: Wife Gertrude, two daughters and one son BIO: Menno Simons was born in a small village in Friesland, which is a northern province in the Netherlands. Very little is known about his childhood or his family. Simons became a Catholic priest in 1524, at the age of 28, and it’s possible he received at least part of his training at a monastery. Early in his priesthood, Simons began to doubt the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation in which Catholics believe that the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper are changed into the literal body and blood of Christ. Around the time Simons was becoming a priest, there was a group of Catholics called the Sacramentists who were questioning Catholic teachings like transubstantiation. Concurrently, a group known as the Anabaptists was gaining influence in Reformation Europe. Both movements were strong in the Netherlands and Simons picked up on their ideas. In contrast to Calvin and Luther, Anabaptists taught that infant baptism was not valid because baptism should follow a confession of faith and a commitment to discipleship.... View Article

A Tiny Biography of Thomas Cranmer

October 21, 2017 7:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

NAME: Thomas Cranmer BIRTH: July 2, 1489 DEATH: March 21, 1556, age 66 HOMETOWN: Aslockton, Nottinghamshire, England, 131 miles northwest of London VOCATION: University Fellow, Ambassador, Archbishop of Canterbury FAMILY: Wife Joan, died in childbirth, second wife Margarete, 2 children Margaret and Thomas BIO: Thomas Cranmer was born to parents of modest wealth and was sent to Jesus College, Cambridge several years after the death of his father. Cranmer received his bachelor and master’s degrees from Cambridge in logic, classical literature and philosophy. He began to study theology, was ordained by 1520 and had a Doctor of Divinity degree by 1526. Around this same time, the King of England, Henry VIII, wanted to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, who had failed to produce a male heir for the throne. Henry sent ambassadors to the Pope regarding the annulment, but the Pope failed to grant it. Soon after, Henry broke away from the Catholic Church and declared himself the head of the Church of England. Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn, who had read the works of many Reformers, led to the appointment of Thomas Cranmer as the Archbishop of Canterbury. Cranmer was consecrated as the archbishop on March 30,... View Article

A Tiny Biography on John Calvin

October 11, 2017 7:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

NAME: John Calvin BIRTH: July 10, 1509 DEATH: May 27, 1564 HOMETOWN: Noyon, France, 67 miles northeast of Paris VOCATION: Scholar, Theologian, Preacher FAMILY: Wife Idelette de Bure, 3 children, all died in infancy BIO: Calvin was born to Gerard Calvin and Jeanne le Franc in 1509. His mother died when he was three years old, and his father soon remarried. Gerard had a good position working with the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Noyon and planned for his sons to become priests. Calvin was precocious and went to Paris at the age of 14 to study theology and philosophy. When Calvin was 19, his father had run afoul of the church and ordered his son to become a lawyer instead of a priest. To obey his father, he moved to Orleans and Bourges to study law until his father’s death in 1531. Calvin quickly returned to Paris after his father’s death to pick up the study of theology and the classics again. During his studies, he learned about Desiderius Erasmus, who had published a more accessible Latin translation of the New Testament, and Martin Luther, whose Protestant ideas were making their way through Europe. He attended meetings with other students... View Article

A Tiny Biography on Martin Luther

October 4, 2017 7:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

NAME: Martin Luther BIRTH: November 10, 1483 DEATH: February 18, 1546 HOMETOWN: Eisleben, Germany, 130 miles southwest of Berlin VOCATION: Augustinian monk, priest, professor of philosophy at the University of Wittenberg FAMILY: Katharina von Bora, wife, and six children Johannes, Elisabeth, Magdalena, Martin, Paul, and Margaret BIO: Luther was born to Hans and Margarethe Luther in 1483 and was named for St. Martin of Tours, on whose feast day he was baptized. Luther’s father was determined that Martin should become a lawyer and sent him to school, including university at Erfurt. Luther studied law and philosophy, but completely changed course when he was caught outside in a thunderstorm in 1505. Scared of death and divine judgment, he cried out to Saint Anne in terror and promised that he would become a monk. True to his word, Luther joined St. Augustine’s Monastery in Erfurt in July 1505. As a monk, Luther was plagued by spiritual despair and guilt over the depth of his sin. Over the next several years, Luther became a priest and a professor of theology and philosophy at the University of Wittenberg and preached in churches throughout the city. As Luther studied Scripture, he noticed incongruence between the... View Article

Making Space for God

April 13, 2017 7:00 am Published by 8 Comments

When I was a sophomore in college, I studied abroad in the British Isles for three months in a group led by four professors. We spent most of our time in cities: London to York to Edinburgh to Glasgow to Manchester to London again. Occasionally the subjects we studied—Wordsworth and Roman ruins—would take us into the countryside where we could reconnect with soft earth and silence. This trip laid the foundation for my later realization that I am a nature-loving, silence-seeking introvert. In cities, I would find parks and churches. Quiet spaces. Places that would lessen both the external hustle and bustle of the city and my internal noise as I tried to take it all in. A month after I returned home from England, I was at a snowbound camp called Tall Timber living like a monk for a Christian Spirituality course during my school’s three-week January Term. After the relentless pace and variety of travel, the monastic schedule was jarring in its routine. Our days were anchored by a modified Divine Office, specific times of prayer and worship that define the day in some monastic communities. Our daily rhythm was this: worship, breakfast, lecture, personal study time, worship, lunch,... View Article

The Happiest Place on Earth

March 12, 2014 3:00 am Published by 6 Comments

I don’t travel to new places very often; I love being at home. A couple weeks ago I broke the mold and traveled to southern California to spend time with my sister, and we spent a Saturday at Disneyland. The day was a happy whirl of rides, lines, ice cream, and warm sunshine, but around 3:30 that afternoon, when the park was at its most busy and we couldn’t walk without bumping into someone, I began to feel the effects of the crowds. As a child, I might have pitched a fit. But as such tantrums are not tolerated with adults (however much we might want to), I agreed with my sister that a half hour break in the car would be good for both of us. I recognized unmistakable symptoms of being overtired, irritable, and, in this new environment with so many unknown faces, a little fragile, too. The next day, my sister and I visited my grandma who had recently suffered a minor stroke. My sister and I helped her from her wheelchair to the hospital bed, and she lay there helplessly, unable to use her arms to prop herself up on the bed. My sister and the... View Article