Posts by Simonetta Carr

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Alexander McLeod and His Speech Against Slavery In the fall of 1800, Alexander McLeod (1774-1833) received a call to become pastor of the Congregation in Coldenham, New York. It was the culmination of a training he had received since he was a child, back in the wild and scenic Isle of Mull,...
Olaudah Equiano – Waking Up Christians to the Evils of Slavery Olaudah Equiano described his 1745 place of birth as “a charming vale, named Essaka” [1] in the kingdom of Benin (in today’s southeastern Nigeria). His father occupied an important place among the Igbo people, and was himself a slave...
Almost any article today could have the word “Coronavirus” in the title. This small organism has changed most of our lives and continues to affect us in many ways. While some of our questions simply require a lot of wisdom, our most fundamental perplexities still find their answers in Scriptures,...
John Chrysostom and Olympias – Finding Comfort in Troubled Times John Chrysostom was a favorite church father in the Protestant Reformation for many reasons: for his departure from the allegorical interpretation of Scriptures that was popular in his day, for his understanding of law and grace, and...
Kassia – A Bold and Sensitive Byzantine Poet Around the year 830, in Constantinople, that Byzantine Empress Euphroshyne organized a bride-show to find a wife for her newly-crowned sixteen-year old son Theophilos. This was a common match-making system of her times. Kassia – possibly 20 at that time...
Christine de Pizan – Theologian and Mother Christine de Pizan was the first professional woman writer in France, if not Europe. She is normally seen as an early feminist rather than as a theologian and a mother. But many of her writings are based on her study of Scriptures and the church fathers,...
Lydia Mackenzie Falconer Miller – An Inquisitive Woman Some time ago, I wrote an article about Hugh Miller, a Scottish geologist and author who was greatly esteemed by both scientists and common readers during the perplexing times of the Scottish religious Disruption and of Darwin’s new scientific...
Elizabeth Barrows Ussher – Caring for All During the Armenian Resistance In 1915, the buildings belonging to the missionaries in Van, Turkey, turned into fortresses, refugee centers, and hospitals. “Reports come to us of the burning of village after village, with outrages upon the women and...
Diet Eman – Holding on to God’s Promises For Dutch Christians like Diet (pronounced Deet) Eman and her family, the German invasion of the Netherlands generated new, urgent questions. Queen Wilhelmina had left for England, taking her whole government with her. What were the Dutch supposed to do?...
Johann Heermann and the Comfort of the Cross In the spring of 1630, while the Thirty-Year War raged around Europe, pastor and poet Johann Heermann wrote a hymn to inspire his congregation to meditate on Christ’s suffering. Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended, that we to judge thee have in hate...
John Donne – Poet of Grace and Comfort In 1623, when a sudden illness brought the poet and preacher John Donne close to death, he expressed his lament with words that may sound relevant during our coronavirus pandemic: “Variable and therefore miserable condition of man! This minute I was well, and...
Paul Gerhardt and His Songs of Confident Hope In 1943, the German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from his lonely prison cell, “I’ve lately learnt for the first time to appreciate the hymn, ‘Beside thy cradle here I stand.’ Up to now I hadn't made much of it; I suppose one has to be alone for a...
Patrick and His Mission Every year, we read articles about the “real” Saint Patrick – the one who didn’t drive out snakes and didn’t use a shamrock to explain the Trinity. His own account of his life, expressed in his Confessions , has become better known, but is still not commonly read. Yet, it...
Jeanette Li and Her Faith in God’s Promises Jeanette’s birth, in 1899, was a disappointment to her family. As most Chinese parents at that time, You Zhong and his wife Taai So wanted a son to carry on the family name. Since they already had a daughter, a relative suggested the new baby should be...
Betsey Stockton and Her Love for God’s Image-Bearers Whatever Betsey had imagined her foreign mission to be, it was not this. The group of Hawaiian men who came rowing toward her ship in their canoes was frightening: “Their appearance was that of half man and half beast—naked—except a narrow strip...
Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753-1784) and her Sovereign God Whatever moved the Wheatleys to buy the little slave that had just arrived from Africa, it was not her physical strength. Frightened and skinny, with two missing teeth, she looked sickly and frail. Susanna Wheatley’s decision of picking this...
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...