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Confronted by the persecution, force, and cruelty of this world, Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499–1542, pronounced Vayr-MEEL-yee) urged Christians to recognize two realities: their identity in Christ and the sure hope of one day seeing God face to face. This, he contends, is “man’s ultimate happiness,” the delight that surpasses all worldly pleasure—to be accepted by the eternal Father in Christ.
In his earliest surviving work, an exposition of the Apostles’ Creed, Vermigli strikes this note, taking up the problem of ignorance among Christians concerning their salvation in Christ. The solution, he contends, is a diligent study of Scripture, applying its redemptive insight to a range of theological, moral, and political challenges. Herein lies Vermigli’s genius. As a biblical exegete and first-rate philosopher, he was able to connect divine truth to the most vexing questions of his day. And as a theologian, he offered this reflection with an abiding concern for the church’s calling in the world.
Vermigli - Life - Journey - Highlights - Protestant
Some have noted how Vermigli’s life journey illustrates many highlights of the Protestant Reformation. Beginning with his strategic implementation of reform in the bosom of Roman Catholic Italy, he then fled north of the Alps to Zurich (the Reformed tradition’s birthplace) as a Protestant theologian in exile, collaborated with Martin Bucer in Strasbourg, went to Oxford during the reign of Edward VI to assist Thomas Cranmer in shaping the Church of England, went back to Strasbourg, and eventually to Zurich again to teach theology with Heinrich Bullinger for the remainder of his days.
These movements, it turns out, also portray the requisite qualities of a gospel minister—values as critical now as they were in the 16th century. Let’s briefly retrace Vermigli’s footsteps to observe some of these inspiring qualities.
Childhood - Peter - Martyr - God - Word
From childhood, Peter Martyr (as he became known) desired to teach God’s Word. At age 15 he entered the...
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