Saturday, February 23, 2008

John Calvin : Missionary Church-Planter

A great little article by Frank James III shows that contrary to popular opinion John Calvin was very mission-minded. The following excerpt from his article shows how successful Calvin's mission efforts were:
Scholar peter Wilcox has combed the Genevan archives and dusted off some of Calvin's five hundred-year old correspondence. Much to his surprise, Wilcox discovered a treasure trove of material indicating that the last ten years of Calvin's life in Geneva (1555-1564) were preoccupied with missions' Among the dusty tomes were letters written by the Genevan missionaries themselves revealing just how successful they had been. One French church in Bergerac boasted to Calvin:

"There is, by the grace of God, such a movement in our district, that the devil is already for the most part driven out, so that we are able to provide ministers for ourselves. From day to day, we are growing, and God has caused His Word to bear such fruit that at sermons on Sundays, there are about four- to five-thousand people."

Another letter from Montpelier rejoiced, "Our church, thanks to the Lord, has so grown and so continues to grow every day that we are obliged to preach three sermons on Sundays to a total of five- to six-thousand people."

And it gets better. A pastor in Toulouse wrote to the Genevan Consistory: "Our church has grown to the astonishing number of about eight- to nine-thousand souls."

Calvin didn't just plant small fledgling churches; he planted mega-churches that in turn planted more churches. It is difficult to fathom the extraordinary success of these Genevan sponsored missionaries. Even in our modern era, such statistics are unheard of.

The French government became so concerned about all these churches being planted that they sent a letter of protest to the Genevan city council. The Genevan city council responded by saying, "What missionaries?"

Genevan missionaries planted churches in other European destinations. Records indicate missionaries also were sent to Italy; the Netherlands, Hungary; Poland, and the free Imperial city-states in the Rhineland. The late Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, one of the few modern scholars aware of this extraordinary achievement, concluded that Calvin's Geneva was a "school of missions... [and] a dynamic centre of missionary concern and activity."

The full article can be found here. And a longer audio by James "The Calvin I Never Knew" can be heard here.

HT: Between Two Worlds

    No comments: