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Why Learn Peter Martyr Vermigli?

Confronted by the persecution, pressure, and cruelty of this world, Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499–1542, pronounced Vayr-MEEL-yee) urged Christians to acknowledge two realities: their id in Christ and the certain hope of in the future seeing God nose to nose. This, he contends, is “man’s ultimate happiness,” the delight that surpasses all worldly pleasure—to be accepted by the everlasting Father in Christ.

In his earliest surviving work, an exposition of the Apostles’ Creed, Vermigli strikes this notice, taking over the issue of ignorance amongst Christians regarding their salvation in Christ. The answer, he contends, is a diligent research of Scripture, making use of its redemptive perception to a spread of theological, ethical, and political challenges. Herein lies Vermigli’s genius. As a biblical exegete and first-rate thinker, he was capable of join divine fact to probably the most vexing questions of his day. And as a theologian, he supplied this reflection with an abiding concern for the church’s calling on the planet.


Some have famous how Vermigli’s life journey illustrates many highlights of the Protestant Reformation. Starting along with his strategic implementation of reform within the bosom of Roman Catholic Italy, he then fled north of the Alps to Zurich (the Reformed custom’s birthplace) as a Protestant theologian in exile, collaborated with Martin Bucer in Strasbourg, went to Oxford throughout the reign of Edward VI to help Thomas Cranmer in shaping the Church of England, went again to Strasbourg, and finally to Zurich once more to show theology with Heinrich Bullinger for the rest of his days.

These actions, it seems, additionally painting the requisite qualities of a gospel minister—values as crucial now as they have been within the 16th century. Let’s briefly retrace Vermigli’s footsteps to watch a few of these inspiring qualities.

Miracle of Italy

From childhood, Peter Martyr (as he turned identified) desired to show God’s Phrase. At age 15 he entered the Augustinian order close to his native Florence. After eight years of theological coaching, he underwent priestly ordination and acquired a doctorate in theology. Quickly he was elected to the workplace of public preacher, an illustrious place in that day. As his identify grew well-known within the largest Italian cities, he finally moved southward to steer the good San Pietro advert Aram in Naples. Right here his life modified without end.

Throughout Vermigli’s sojourn at San Pietro (1537–1540), in response to his disciple and biographer Josiah Simler, “the greater light of God’s truth” started to shine on him. This fact, in Vermigli’s phrases, was that “Christ’s righteousness imputed to us by God totally restores what was lacking in this weak and mutilated righteousness of ours.” It was a gospel awakening that amounted to conversion, and it turned his animating impulse: Christ has risen in response to the Scriptures, a actuality that reconciles us to God and dignifies life with everlasting significance.

With this new gospel orientation, Vermigli moved north in Could 1541 to change into prior of the distinguished monastery of San Frediano within the Republic of Lucca. He initiated a sequence of instructional and ecclesiastical reforms which were likened to Calvin’s work in Geneva. However after a mere 15 months, Pope Paul III reversed these reforms by reinstituting the Roman Inquisition, a defining second by which Vermigli renounced his vows and made the arduous choice to flee his homeland.

Martin Bucer organized for Vermigli’s tutorial appointment to the School of Saint Thomas in Strasbourg. The Italian exile taught sacred letters from the Previous Testomony.

After 5 fruitful years there, Vermigli acquired an invite from Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in 1547 to fortify the newly unbiased Church of England with Reformed theology as Regius Chair of Divinity at Oxford. In line with S. L. Greenslade, “Peter Martyr was unquestionably the most learned” of the early holders of the Regius Chair place.

With the accession of the Roman Catholic Queen Mary in 1553, Vermigli was pressured to flee England. Returning to Strasbourg, he was instantly restored to his place on the Senior College. Along with educating and writing theological works, he gathered with different Marian exiles in his dwelling to review and pray. This apply illustrates one other theme in Vermigli’s life: warmhearted friendships and mentoring of youthful Christians, a permanent and intimate bond to which his private letters testify.

Vermigli died in Zurich on November 12, 1562, within the presence of his spouse and pals. In line with Simler, who was current together with Bullinger and a small group of others: “[Martyr] was silent in deep personal reflection; then he turned to us and stated with a rather clear voice that he acknowledged life and salvation in Christ alone, who had been given by the Father to the human race as its only Savior.” This catch phrase, “salvation in Christ alone,” is an apt abstract of Vermigli’s legacy, a life that John Calvin referred to as “the miracle of Italy.”

Take Up and Learn

The lifetime of Peter Martyr gives poignant classes to encourage and instruct the modern church, a few of which we’ve famous: the need of submitting oneself to the authority of Scripture, the providential care of God over his kids, the animating energy of gospel proclamation, the necessity for theological precision and thoroughness, and the significance of warmhearted friendship that edifies the church and equips younger leaders.

Fortunately, Peter Martyr continues to supply these classes. For the reason that early 1990s a global vary of Vermigli students has been working to publish his sermons, commentaries, orations, letters, prayers, and theological treatises in The Peter Martyr Library, an in depth work of English translation. In 2017, this challenge was acquired by the Davenant Institute, which has already reprinted a number of of those texts in inexpensive paperbacks: The Oxford Treatise and Disputation on the Eucharist, The Dialogue on the Two Natures in Christ, Philosophical Works, and Predestination and Justification. Davenant just lately partnered with Faithlife to supply digitized editions of those invaluable texts, and maybe most excitingly, printed the primary installment of the primary trendy English translation of Vermigli’s magnum opus, his Frequent Locations.

Above all, Vermigli will likely be remembered for his ardour to show Scripture with the gospel on the forefront. Even the portray of Peter Martyr hanging within the Nationwide Portrait Gallery in London testifies to this focus. In it, Martyr’s penetrating eyes look to the space past the gilded body as he factors to the e-book in his hand: the Bible. If we have been to put a press release on Vermigli’s lips, it will maybe be his exhortation to youth: “Let us immerse ourselves constantly in the sacred Scriptures, let us work at reading them, and by the gift of Christ’s Spirit the things that are necessary for salvation will be for us clear, direct, and completely open.”

Some 500 years later, Peter Martyr’s ministry continues to talk, imparting illumination to those that observe the instance of his historic mentor, Augustine: “tolle lege, tolle lege” (“take up and read, take up and read”).

Why Learn Peter Martyr Vermigli?

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