Posts by Simonetta Carr

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Anne Steele and Her Weighty Questions Anne Steele is remembered as one of the first British women hymn-writers, and one of the best appreciated during her time and the following century. The introspective, searching notes of her hymns, uttered with uncommon honesty, made them particularly cherished...
“Would You But Permit Me to Cast Myself at Your Feet?” – Marriage Proposal of 18 th -Century Ministers This is a sequel to an article I wrote a few years ago about some marriage proposals by 16 th -century Protestant Reformers. [1] Most of those were practical, from Heinrich Bullinger’s (1504–1575...
Anne du Bourg – A Conflicted Martyr Anne du Bourg is an important French Protestant who is almost entirely forgotten. Born around 1520 in Riom, in the French region of Auvergne, he studied law at the University of Orléans, where he received his doctorate in 1550. He then remained there as professor...
Jan Laski – The Polish Reformer Jan Laski (also known as Johannes à Lasco) is normally remembered as the Reformer of Poland, but he had also a great influence in England and other parts of Europe and was an untiring opponent of the heresies of his time. Born into a noble family in central Poland in...
Mary Honywood and Her Flickering, Unquenchable Faith By 1558, most Londoners had come to loath Mary Tudor’s systematic executions of Protestants. Keeping the throngs away was in the crown’s best interest. On July 1, during the scheduled execution of preacher John Bradford (1510–1555) and apprentice...
B. B. Warfield – Not a Solitary Theologian Due to a need for brevity, many articles on Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851-1921) focus on his theology and his devotion to his wife, whose illness kept the couple close to home. Because of this, he is often seen as a solitary man leading an...
Frank Houghton - Eager to Glorify God The news of the brutal murder of John and Betty Stam – together with a local shopkeeper who tried to defend them – shook the missionary community and other Christians everywhere. It was December 1934, and the 10th division of the communist Red Army had just...
Hilary of Poitiers and the Wonder of the Triune God “He Who upholds the universe, within Whom and through Whom are all things, was brought forth by common childbirth; He at Whose voice Archangels and Angels tremble, and heaven and earth and all the elements of this world are melted, was heard in...
Simon Goulart – Preacher of Confident Hope In 1595, Simon Goulart joined the company of famous preachers who angered powerful women. The woman in this case was Gabrielle d’Estrée, mistress of King Henry IV of France, who persuaded the Protestant king to turn Roman Catholic in order to promote unity...
Theodulf of Orleans – Poet and Theologian in the Carolingian Court Theodulf belonged to the group of bright minds Charlemagne gathered at his court in order to boost education in his empire. Born in a Visigothic family, probably in Spain, around the year 750, he is named after the French city where...
Mikael Agricola and the Reformation in Finland Like Primoz Trubar in Slovenia, Mikael Agricola was a Protestant reformer who had to develop a language before he could spread the gospel. From Farmer to Bishop Born around the year 1509 in a small village on the southern coast of Finland, Agricola (...
Robert Barnes – Early English Reformer The early 1500’s was an exciting time for young intellectuals. Scholars such as Desiderius Erasmus and Jacques Lefèvre and religious Reformers such as Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli fueled many stirring discussions in the European universities. The growing...
Ebenezer Erskine – Preaching God’s Grace in Tumultuous Times The name Ebenezer Erskine is rarely remembered outside of Scotland. And yet, it was a well-known name in his day. Founder of the Secession Church and a strong voice in the Marrow Controversy, he was involved in many of the tosses and...
Nikolaus Von Amsdorf – More than a Beer-Drinking Friend Nikolaus Von Amsdorf is usually remembered as one of the two friends (the other being Philip Melanchthon) who drank beer with Martin Luther while “God dealt the papacy a mighty blow.” [1] But there is much more to this man, his relationship to...
Clement Read Vaughan – a Faithful Friend Today, Clement Read Vaughan (1827-1911) is remembered only occasionally for his comparison of faith to a bridge – an illustration used by many pastors. Not much is known about his life – mostly what Thomas Cary Johnson (1859-1936) recorded in his biography...
Isabella Graham – an 18 th -Century Problem-Solver “Who are these children, that idly ramble through the streets, a prey to growing depravity and vicious example?” Isabella Graham asked in 1804. By that time, she had already created a vast program of assistance to the needy, a program that included...
Anne Dutton and Her Reasons for Writing From the time of her youth in 17 th -century Northampton, England, Anne was described as a lively and outspoken girl. Over the course of her life, she combined this zeal and candor with her natural clarity of thought and expression in order to provide...
Samuel McPheeters and His Commitment to Neutrality It was 1862, two days after Christmas. The American Civil War was still raging, when Samuel Brown McPheeters, Presbyterian pastor of the largest church in St. Louis, Missouri, met with President Lincoln to present his plea. A Southern Preacher in...
Cotton Mather - A Life of Suffering Cotton Mather has a bad reputation, mostly because of his involvement in the Salem Witch Trials. Even if he recommended caution and opposed the executions, his book Memorable Providences Relating to Witchcraft and Possessions (1689) did much to feed the hysteria...
Augustus Montague Toplady and His Defense of the Gospel Augustus Montague Toplady was one of the many young people who turned to Christ through the ministry of John Wesley. He was also one of the many who called Wesley out on his departure from the teachings of the Reformed confessions. Effectual...
William Twisse – a 17 th -century Polemicist To bow or not to bow? It was a key question for ministers in the Church of England, in relation to the Lord’s table. Many believed that bowing or kneeling before the table was a mark of idolatry, pointing to the adoration of the elements. This was the...
Katherine Parr and Her Role in the English Reformation Katherine Parr (1512-1548) is often remembered as the only wife of King Henry VIII who survived the marriage (the previous five were either beheaded or divorced). But she was much more than that. She was an important writer and a major player...
Johannes Bogerman and His Powdering Speech “ Dimittimini exiteI ” (“You are dismissed, get out!”) With these imperious words, Johannes Bogerman (1576-1637), president of the Synod of Dordt, expressed what many of the delegates were had been painfully thinking. The Remonstrants had to leave...
Agnes Beaumont and Her Fateful Ride Agnes Beaumont was gloating on her way to church. She had managed to find a ride against all odds, and what ride! She was sitting right behind John Bunyan, pastor of the church in Bedford. “My heart was puffed up with pride,” she wrote, “and I was pleased that...
Charlotte of Bourbon – from Runaway Nun to Self-Sacrificing Wife For twelve long years, Charlotte tried to assert her legal rights to leave Notre-Dame de Jouarre, the abbey which she had been forced to join. Finally, in February 1572, she escaped. The circumstances of her flight are uncertain. Some...
Kata Bethlen – A Faith Preserved Kata Bethlen (1700-1752) started her autobiography with her most painful memory: her forced marriage, at age 17, to her Roman Catholic half-brother. Her family – one of the wealthiest and most influential in Transylvania – had firmly adhered, for generations, to the...
Alcuin of York – More Than a Scholar In 781, a Saxon monk named Alcuin had an encounter that changed his life and became the catalyst of the dynamic but short-lived Carolingian Renaissance. The man he met was the Frankish King Charles (later known as Charlemagne). As many others him, Charles was...
Hrotsvit of Gandersheim and Her Christian Plays Anyone who is familiar with the works of the Roman playwright Terence (185-159 BC) knows that they are an interesting depiction of the realities of his day. They are comedies, and generally end with a marriage or reconciliation. They could easily find...
John Bradford and the Comfort of God’s Sovereign Choice From Treasurer to Preacher A native of Manchester, John Bradford (c. 1510-1555) started his career as vice-treasurer of the English army in France. An accusation of fraud (which he strongly contested) became the catalyst for a departure from a...
Dorothy Leigh and Her Advice to Her Sons One of the best-selling 17 th -century manuals on parenting was written by a woman, Dorothy Leigh. What may seem perfectly normal to us was unusual in an age when women’s writings were rarely taken seriously. Books on marriage, parenting, and even midwifery...
The Shocking Case of the Hungarian Galley Slaves – A 17 th -century Tale of Religious Persecution One of the worst examples of religious persecution in European history happened in the decade between 1671 and 1681, when the Hungarian Roman Catholic authorities determined to eradicate Protestantism...
John Bunyan and the Women Who Shaped His Life If it’s true that behind every great man there is a great woman, John Bunyan had a good company of great women behind him. Mother We don’t know hardly anything about Bunyan’s mother, Margaret Bentley. Like her husband Thomas and their children, she was...
Johannes Kepler and the Joy of Science The German astronomer Johannes Kepler is counted among the greatest scientists in history. He is best known for his three laws of planetary motion, which shaped our modern understanding of the solar system. His achievements expanded beyond astronomy to cover...
Monica of Tagaste – A Persistent Mother Augustine was a difficult teenager, the kind that keeps parents up at night. The restlessness he would later describe in his Confessions was already evident at a young age, especially to his mother Monica. But she never gave up. She upheld him constantly in...
Pierre Du Moulin – a Patriarch of the French Reformation Little known today, Pierre du Moulin was one of the main protagonists of the French Reformation and one of the main defenders of the gospel against semi-Pelagian reinterpretations. He was born in 1568 in the Château de Buhy in north-east...
Mary Rowlandson - Seizing God in the Wilderness Mary Rowlandson’s account of her experience as prisoner of war became an immediate best-seller. In fact, it was the first best-seller in America, and the first of what became a popular genre: accounts of captivity among Native American tribes. Her...
Edward Dering and His Stunning Lenten Sermon Whatever Queen Elizabeth I might have expected by inviting Edward Dering to preach a Lenten sermon in her presence, it was certainly not an outspoken rebuke. Edward Dering was a young, promising preacher, with an outstanding reputation as a Greek scholar...
Marcella of Rome – The Woman Who Tamed Jerome’s Temper Marcella became a widow after only seven months of marriage. Being a young and pretty noblewoman, she had no shortage of suitors. Even a consul, Neratius Cerealis (in office from 328 to 358 AD) asked insistently for her hand. He was much older...
Juan Pérez de Pineda and other Spanish Reformers In Spain, Martin Luther’s message met the immediate and fierce opposition of both the Roman Catholic Church and the Spanish rulers, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. To repress it, they had already a powerful tool at hand: the Tribunal...
Gregory of Nyssa and His Compassion for the Poor I have written about Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nazianzus, two of the famous three men from Cappadocia (in today’s Turkey) who stood for the divinity, unity, and distinction of the three Persons of the Trinity. I have also written about Macrina...
Elisabeth of the Palatinate and Her Influence on Descartes Princess Elisabeth of the Palatinate (also known as Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia) is remembered as the woman who challenged the French philosopher René Descartes to re-examine his assertions on the separation of mind and body. While she...
Matyás Dévay Bíró – The “Hungarian Luther” An image of the Hungarian Reformer Matyás Dévay Biró shines through a stained window of Wittenberg’s Schlosskirche (Castle Church). He’s in good company, surrounded as he is by other Protestants of his day, such as Peter Martyr Vermigli, Michael Agricola,...
Anne Cooke Bacon – Patron of Puritan Preachers Anne Cooke Bacon made her mark on the Church of England in 1563, when she translated John Jewel’s Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae, which became a statement of faith for the Church of England under Elizabeth I. Immediately, her work was praised for its...
Anne Bradstreet and Her Songs of Daily Providence Late in her life, Anne Bradstreet wrote a letter to her children, retelling her story for their “spiritual advantage” and for “the glory of God.” [1] She started with her childhood in England, where her parents, Thomas and Dorothy Dudley, gave her...
On December 30, 1856, thousands of people followed Hugh Miller’s coffin to the Grange cemetery in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was dearly loved and respected, particularly for his thought-provoking writings on a wide variety of subjects. As an editor of Miller’s memoirs aptly said, “In choosing him,...
In March 1643, Lady Brilliana Harley received a formal demand to surrender her castle to the royalists. Her husband, Sir Robert Harley, was in London. He had been there since the start of the civil war, leaving her to administer Brampton Bryan Castle and all their goods. Their elder sons, Edward...
When Samuel Miller married Sarah Sergeant, he didn’t know the extent of her pain. Emotional anguish and religious skepticism were not a proper topic of discussion. At least, that’s what her mother had taught her. She had told her doubting was normal, and “especially that [Sarah] should avoid making...
Edmund Grindal and His Letter to the Queen In 1576, Archbishop Edmund Grindal joined the company of Puritans who offended Queen Elizabeth I. His most provocative statement was a reminder of her mortality. He was suspended from his duties for the rest of his life. The unwelcomed reminder came at the...
Charlotte Arbaleste’s life changed drastically when a young man came to town. Native of Paris, she had found refuge in Sedan, in the French Ardennes, after the disastrous St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. She had been a widow for five years and had no intention of remarrying. To many noblewomen,...
Ralph Erskine (1685-1752) was born ten years after his mother Margaret was pronounced dead. The pronouncement had been mistaken, but she would have indeed been dead if a greedy sexton had not laid his eyes on her precious ring. Under cover of night, the sexton disinterred her body. Finding the ring...