Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Curator of Musée de Cevennes helps me with Huguenot research

Our gites host, a retired Reformed pastor in the tradition of the Huguenots, set up an appointment for me with the foremost historian in the region, Daniel Travier. After Lionel and I visited the Huguenot cave we returned to St Jean du Gard and had a very helpful time with this man. He took us into his medieval house, low beamed ceilings, and filled with collections of old leather bound books, a vast number of Reformer medallions, many of Calvin, and no computer whatsoever. Strictly old school historian. 

One of the more interesting things I learned is some of the reasons historians offer for why there was such a wide sweeping reception to the gospel in the Cevennes, Monsieur Travier said that one of the reasons is that the people in these rugged mountains are only part time farmers and so generally had a trade of some kind. This meant that they went frequently to markets and fairs, places which were cross roads of ideas. They are also a fiercely independent people who were only loosely under a feudal system, so they had developed habits of independent thinking that didn't mix well with papal supremacy and the absolute authority of the magisterium of the Roman church.

I appreciate these kinds of explanations only insofar as they help us see how God by his sovereign plan brings about the salvation of a large group of people. So far I have come to the settled conclusion that any explanation of the Huguenots that tries to make it seem just like another bid for political independence by an oppressed people group is hugely inadequate to explain why thousands of people would face certain death for their faith in Christ. I've also concluded that there were probably many more Huguenots paying the ultimate price for loyalty to the gospel of grace and King Jesus even than Scottish Covenanters; and Huguenot persecution ground on over many many more years.

This is a big story, one I feel every day very inadequate to tell. Nevertheless, I keep plugging away. Now back at it. Thank you so much, Monsieur Travier! See my YouTube channel for a clip of him telling an animated anecdote about Huguenots in his home town, but it's in French.

Lionel also took me to see the oldest standing Huguenot temple (virtually all of them were torn down by royal RC troops in the wars of religion). It was built in the early 1600s and used chestnut tree timbers for its roof which won't bear weight very far, hence the middle arch dividing the sanctuary down the middle, very unusual.

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