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Reforming French Protestantism: The Development of Huguenot Ecclesiastical Institutions, 1557-1572 (Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies) [Hardcover]

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Item description for Reforming French Protestantism: The Development of Huguenot Ecclesiastical Institutions, 1557-1572 (Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies) by Glenn S. Sunshine...

Theology encounters history and culture in sixteenth-century France in this examination of French Protestantism. The analysis reveals how Calvinism's growing influence led to the unification of French Protestant churches despite the opposition of the royalty. The interaction between newly adopted Calvinist theology and French society led to the development of the presbyterian polity of church government, a concept that quickly spread through western Europe.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   193
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.52" Width: 6.08" Height: 0.76"
Weight:   1.06 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Publisher   Truman State University Press
ISBN  1931112282  
ISBN13  9781931112284  

Availability  0 units.

More About Glenn S. Sunshine

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Glenn S. Sunshine is Professor and Chair of theHistory Department at Central Connecticut University in New Britain, Connecticut. He is the author of a number of articles and books, including "Reforming French Protestantism: The Development of Huguenot Ecclesiastical Institutions".

Glenn S. Sunshine was born in 1958.

Glenn S. Sunshine has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Armchair Theologians

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Europe > France > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > Protestant
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Protestantism > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Reforming French Protestantism: The Development of Huguenot Ecclesiastical Institutions, 1557-1572 (Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies)?

Well done survey of the institutional development of the FRC  Mar 18, 2004
What factors influenced the institutional development of the French Reformed church during the sixteenth century? Glenn Sunshine argues that the typical perception of these churches as nothing more than miniature Genevan colonies during this period fails to do justice to the innovative ecclesiastical model that arose in the French church as a result of their unique situation in Catholic France (Glenn S. Sunshine, Reforming French Protestantism (Kirksville, Mo.: Truman State University Press, 2003), pp. 10-11). In fact, Sunshine's central argument throughout the book is that the institutional development of the French Reformed church was not the result of a primarily imported Genevan ecclesiology, but rather was the result of original structural innovations that occurred in response to their own unique circumstances. Further, Sunshine argues, these French Reformed ecclesiastical features subsequently spread to other reformed churches abroad and became an integral part of the Calvinist tradition in Western Europe (Sunshine, Reforming French Protestantism, p. 167). To support his thesis, Sunshine's book documents the complexities of the institutional development of the French Reformed church in France during the sixteenth century.

The book begins by detailing the growth of French Protestantism, and (departing from the socio-economic models typically used to explain this expansion) Sunshine argues that French Protestantism drew from a diverse range of social and economic classes in different locales. As this emerging diverse French Protestant church grew, the need to adopt a unified doctrinal statement and system of church polity became increasingly manifest. The result was the production of the Gallican Confession (1559) and the Discipline ecclésiastique. Sunshine argues that although Calvin played a part in the crafting of the Gallican Confession, the Discipline (which was much more dynamic and subject to change than the confession) was more the product of the internal dynamics of the unique situation faced by the French Protestant churches (as particularly evidenced by the many innovative elements the Discipline contained). Sunshine notes that the greatest challenge the Discipline faced was how to develop a system of collective church government without the support of the civic authorities (since the officers of the French magistrate were often Catholic) and without creating any hierarchical relationship between the churches. In contrast to other Reformed churches (which adopted an essentially hierarchical relational structure at the synod level), the French church was the first to systematically apply the principle of ministerial and ecclesiastical equality at the collective governmental level (Sunshine, Reforming French Protestantism, p. 37). Sunshine argues that the "presbyterial" polity that emerged was primarily the result of applying the basic principles of reformed ecclesiology to the unique situation facing the French Protestant church. The result was a system that prevented any locale from becoming the regular meeting place of a synod or any person from becoming either the permanent moderator of a synod or having permanent oversight over churches.

An additional challenge that the French churches faced was how to appoint and manage local pastors (a task that was believed too important to be entrusted solely to the laity of a local congregation) without sacrificing the important principle of congregational autonomy (since the French resisted the Genevan tendency toward centralization). Eventually, the colloquy emerged as a formal part of French Protestant polity, and it became the primary instrument of pastoral selection and oversight.

Sunshine also argues that French Protestant church polity evidenced an eclectic blend of reformed and non-reformed elements at the local church level (seen especially in the features of the diaconate). The French deacons had differences with their Genevan counterparts with respect to their liturgical and catechetical duties (features that they shared in common with the Catholic diaconate), but also (and more importantly) with regard to their participation in the consistory (Sunshine, Reforming French Protestantism, p. 119). In light of the unique situation of the French churches (especially the shortage of qualified people to fill ecclesiastical offices) the deacons of the French church were included in the consistory (while they were not participants in the Genevan model), and they increasingly took on the responsibilities of elders, until the two offices became practically indistinguishable and the diaconate (as defined in the Confession) essentially disappeared (Sunshine, Reforming French Protestantism, p. 170).

Sunshine then discusses the important place that the house churches of the Nobles played in France, especially their independent status with regard to the collective governmental structure of the synods (which they often disregarded). Additionally, Sunshine describes the tenuous and fragile relationship between the reformed consistories and the civil magistrates since in most cases the magistrates were controlled by Catholics who were hostile to the Reformed cause (not to mention the natural tensions that arose with regard to competing claims of jurisdiction). Further, since the French king was also hostile to the Protestant cause, the primary liaisons the reformed churches had with the royal court was the representation afforded by the Protestant nobility.

This book provides an interesting account of the institutional development of the French Reformed church - a history that is made all the more interesting in light of the hostile environment from which it emerged. Sunshine ably documents the differences between the structural ecclesiology of the Genevan and French Reformed churches at both the local and collective governmental levels - differences which are too significant to ignore. As a result, his thesis seems established that the institutional development of the French Reformed church must be considered in light of their attempt to apply Reformed ecclesiastical principles in the context of the unique circumstances they faced. Perhaps the author's most trenchant observation, however, is that the "republican" synodical system of the French Reformed churches unintentionally created irreconcilable differences with the nobility and monarchy (since church and state governments typically paralleled each other). Although incompatible with the French government, this ecclesiastical structure was successfully exported throughout Western Europe as Sunshine correctly notes.


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