Reformed Protestantism

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In the world of Ill Bethisad, Reformed Protestantism seems to be much smaller than *here*, but it is still around in multiple forms.

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The Reformed Waldensian Church

(A Glèisa Réforma Vaudesa in Narbonosc, L’Église Réformée Vaudoise in Francien, La Chiesa Riformata Valdese in Italian) The first group that can be considered a reformist group that broke with Rome were a subsect of the Brotherhood of the Poor Men of Lyons who called themselves the Waldensians in honor of the founder of their order, in the 13th Century. The origins of this rather small sect of pre-Lutheran Protestant lay firmly within the Catholic tradition.

Beginnings

In the late 1170's, the lay monastic Pèire Vaudès began a religious order he called "the Poor Men of Lyons" (L'Òmes Paures de Liyon). Vaudès, by all accounts, was a wealthy yet generous cobbler in 12th Century. Eventually, he became disillusioned with the wealth around him, and he left half of his material possessions and finances to his wife and the other donated to alms for the poor. Pèire Vaudès then dedicated his life to serving the less fortunate as "Fraire Pèire". "Brother" Pèire never founded his own monastery, preferring to live in the open world amongst the laity. During a time of great social and political upheaval in Gaulhe and a time when the Cathari were preaching that the material world was evil and created by Satan, Brother Pèire's preaching was a reaction against the Cathars' dualistic message of immaterialism, a spirit trapped inside a fleshy body, and the Manichean concept of a God of Good which created the spiritual realm and a God of Evil that created the carnal, physical realm. Fra Vaudès believed that Christians should not reject the physical world in which they live to focus solely on the life to come; on the contrary, they should be in the world, preaching to and evangelizing the masses, strictly adhering to both the Old and New Testaments (the Cathars preached that the Old Testament was written about the God of Evil whom they equated with the Christian Satan), and a simple life where wealth was not accumulated but instead given away to these who needed it.

The Poor Men of Lyons' strict demand of poverty and a complete rejection of the excesses of many Church figures in Gaulhe and Italy brought him and his men into conflict with their bishops, but when Vaudès wrote to the Pope in Rome to receive an audience with the Papal Curia, he was surprising well received and was allowed to travel to Rome. He and his faithful band of brothers travelled on foot, from Liyon. The Pope believed that this lay order could be used against the growing Cathar movement and its call to reject the material world and retreat from it. Against the advice of his curia, the Pope approved the Poor Men of God (L'Òmes Paures de Dieu) as a "third order," a type of quasi-monastic order for lay people wherein they do not take religious vows (Vaudès was initially supposed to be made an archimandrite, but he was still openly married to his wife who stayed behind in Liyon).

Before he left for Rome, he commissioned several of his members originally educated as clerks to begin translating the Bible from Ecclesiastical Latin into the local dialect of Narbonosc for the benefit of preaching. Seven years after his return to Liyon, it was ready. Using their own funds, the Poor Men of God began circulating copies (usually just excerpts of the Gospels, for it would have been impossible to mass-produce books in the 13th Century) to the preachers of the Order. For this, Fraire Pèire and his closest brethren were jailed at the behest of the local bishop. A mob gathered before the jail and threatened to break down the door and retrieve their beloved Brother if he were not released. Begrudgingly, the secular leaders of the city did release the friars, and never bothered them again after that.

Fall from Papal Grace

Eventually, in the year 1215, at the age of 75, Fraire Pèire Vaudès passed away. He was mourned by his hometown and across many cities in Europe where the Poor Men of God had traveled during their evangelization. Once the group's charismatic leader passed away and the Cathars had retreated to mountainous communities where the Inquisition could not find them, the good standing of the Order disappeared. At the behest of those bishops who disapproved of their use of the vernacular during preaching and criticisms of corruption in the Church's hierarchy, a letter was sent to the new Pope wherein he was urged to disband the Poor Men for they had outlived their usefulness and were becoming dangerous because of their complete disregard for the sacraments (afterall, they had no ordained men among them to celebrate Divine Liturgy!) and for the hierarchy of the Church.

On August 1st of 1217, the Poor Men of God were asked to disband and either join established monastic orders or return to their secular lives. The answer the Pope and his bishops got back, from communities ranging from Navarre to Dalmatia was a resounding no. Outraged at their insolence, local bishops either had the Poor Men forcibly expelled from their diocese or imprisoned. This sparked a riot in January of 1219, wherein hundreds were killed in the fighting between episcopal loyalists and the supporters of the Poor Men who were becoming increasingly anti-clerical. In the year 1220, a Papal Bull was sent out to all of Latin Christendom; the Poor Men of God were excommunicated with the Church and anyone in contact with them was to drop ties with them immediately.

The post-Vaudès leadership did not handle the situation well; instead of submitting to their superiors in an act of humility, they declared their Order the only true Church, for the men (and women) of Vaudès had returned to the lifestyle of the Twelve Apostles while the rest of the Church had allegedly followed Mammon into evil. Those who joining the so-called "Waldensians" into heresy rejected the notion of sacraments or any sort of clergy and now had to preach in secret. The preachers were affectionately known as "barba" ("old men," "bearded ones") and now they would have to go from town to town disguised as cobblers or tailors or merchants. They developed complex signs to know who was a member of "les élus" ("the elect," the faithful, the members of this new sect) and who was "les damnes," the damned, those who were either too ignorant to understand their message or too depraved to accept it. They chose to preach in the backrooms of taverns, the basements of inns, in stables and barns, for they did not believe that a church was necessary as a venue for preaching; they preferred to meet the people in their own setting.

Although they rejected any sort of clergy, they did have a complex set of positions amongst the preachers ranging from novices to "doctors," those preachers who were nearing the end of their tenure as preachers and would teach the new generation. In keeping with what they felt to be biblical practice, they began to worship on the Holy Day and keep the Sabbath, which earned them the epithet of Judaizers or "Pasagini," Sabbath Keepers. Their service was preaching-based (not liturgical) and would culminate with a public confession of sins.

Eventually, after decades of secrecy, the Waldensians were ousted once more. This time, like the Cathars they preached against and helped the Catholic Church discredit, the Waldensians fled to the rural mountain valleys of southern Gaulhe, Helvetia, northern Italy (mostly Piedmont and Ceva because Aosta had become a Cathar stronghold and the Cathars remembered their rivalry with Brother Pierre), southern Italy, Navarre, and possibly in Dalmatia and Aragon although no such communities there have survived to the present. Their preachers, who had long become crystallized into a clear hierarchy, stopped being able to preach to the masses. Instead, they could only preach to their own, choosing instead to keep the faith alive amongst them and instill the Gospel into them to keep them godfearing and turn them off the path of sin. The rest of the world, in their minds, was no longer worth saving and left to its own devices.

Centuries passed and this peculiar sect of protestors was forgotten about by the secular and ecclesiastical authorities. The Waldensians became increasingly millenarian in their mountain hideaways, believing that the depraved outside world would eventually return to the faith of Jesus Christ and His Twelve Apostles, or suffer the consequences. Over time, the various communities walled up in inaccessible mountain pockets of Western Europe lost contact with one another, with many communities dying out despite the doctores stressing that the elect needed to have as many children as they could.

Modern Developments

The final stage of the Waldensians happened in the late 19th Century. Deep within their safezones, the Waldensians were discovered almost by accident by traveling Mormon missionary Lorenzo Snow, of Louisianne. Snow had done his research into the history of Cathars previously in order to convert them in Aosta along with the Catholics and Zwinglists of the area, when he came across brief mentions of the "Poor Men of Lyons" and the creation of the so-called heretical "Brotherhood of God" and their beliefs.

Snow could hardly believe his eyes when he read testimonies of those who had met Pèire Vaudès and brief snippets of his sermons and how much what he was saying was similar to Mormon thought, especially the rejection of Manichean dualism and the notion that the material world was in any way inherently satanic. Pèire Vaudès to him seemed like he stressed the physical, if anything, and his spiritual successors' stress on a return to the apostolic faith resonated with him. He began to comb the mountainous countrysides of the Kingdom of Savoy to look for them, and eventually after several months of searching the region of Piedmont near the border with Aosta, he found a community claiming to have preserved the faith of the Brotherhood of God unchanged. Snow to these Waldensians, after he proved that he was not a part of the Inquisition and was genuinely interested in what they had to say, was a welcome chance for these people to hear about the outside world for the first time in centuries. Snow in his diary even claimed that some communities he found later on were surprised to hear that there was a land beyond the shores of Europe (although it would be nearly impossible for communities that self-sufficient and ignorant of the rest of the world to exist).

In an almost fitting twist of fate, it was Snow who was preaching to the preachers, and they too saw a spark of their own faith within his and accepted the message of L'Église de Jesus-Christ des Saints des Derniers Jours. Most (but not all) of the Waldensians that Snow worked so hard to find, bring out of hiding into the modern world, and baptize. The first community of Waldensians-turned-Mormons helped create the Valdensa Stake, a jurisdiction that stretched from Gaulhe in France to Savoy (now Italy) and Helvetia, with four communities in Navarre. Thanks to Snow and his Waldensians, the Savoy region is now the region in Europe with the highest amount of Mormons by raw numbers and percentage of the population. It is estimated that anywhere from 10%-25% of all Waldensians however did not accept Snow's message and remain fiercely independent nigh 200 years later after coming out of hiding. They maintain their faith zealously and guard it now even more so. It is said that modern Waldensians, despite integrating back into the wider world as soon as they came out of it, rarely if ever receive converts now, relegating them as a half-status but never fully admitting them as members, and never preachers.

Many Waldensians have since immigrated to the New World, settling in Louisianne and Deseret, mostly concentrating around Zarahemla in the former and Parleyville in the latter. One community of Mormon Waldensians also set up a farming community in Mejico as well in the early 20th Century. The Valdensa stake is also proud to contribute many missionaries from Brigham Young University to regions with a former Waldensian presence, including France, Aragon, Batavia, Dalmatia, the Rhineland-Palatinate, and Württemberg. Some Narbonosc-speaking Waldenso-Mormons have also been present preaching in Algeria to fellow Narbonosc speakers there, with a small congregation of mixed Gaulhes and Arabs present in Algiers.

Zwinglianism

Unlike *here*, the Reformed Churches set up by Huldrych Zwingli and Jean Cauvin never united into one belief system. *There,* the Protestant Reformation in the early Sixteenth Century had a strong impact on Helvetia. Uldrich Zwingli was born in Santz Johan dela Selb, near Wälen Lake in 1484. After his university studies he became a preacher at the Angöreitz, a famous Helvetian site of pilgrimage, where he acquitted himself with honour as a defendant of the Pope. Later he became a preacher in the cathedral at Zürich, where he began preaching Protestant doctrines inspired by Luther and began his rise to political power. Zürich declared itself a free city in 1525. Ten years later this revolt was put down and Zwingli was executed, but his doctrines lived on and today most of northern Helvetia between Lake Zürich and Lake Bräntzen belongs to the Zwinglian Church.


Calvinism/Cauvinism

Calvinism/Cauvinism began with a rough start in the early 16th Century. In the year 1535 in Jenaw, Helvetia, when the citizens invited Maître Jean Cauvin, a Francien Protestant, to build a new Reformed Church there. He implemented a strict moral code based on a literal interpretation of the Scriptures that was somewhat dissimilar from the writings of Huldrych Zwingli (but still incredibly similar), which proved unpopular among the Janawans, who in 1538 exiled him from the city. From there he went to Strasbourg/Reondraedun and remained for the rest of his life, contenting himself to writing religious tracts to serve as apologetics for the newly forming faith that would later take his name. Since Cauvin's death at 69 in 1579, Calvinism has spread to Batavia, France (mostly just Gaulhe although Cauvin was a native Francien), the Holy Roman Empire, the Republic of the Two Crowns, the NAL-SLC, Scotland, England, Kemr, Ireland, South Africa, Hungary, the Scandinavian Realm, Slevania, and Albania.

Episcopal Calvinism

  • Kirk o Scotland
  • Hungarian Reformed Church

Presbyterian-Model Calvinism

  • Presbyterianism in the NAL-SLC: one of the largest Christian denominations in the NAL-SLC, the first Protestants in America entered the continent as refugees seeking the right to worship in peace, away from their Catholic compatriots of England and Scotland. After the Scots Confession of 1560 was ratified as a compromise between Protestants in Scotland and the Catholic state, numerous dissatisfied and slighted Protestants left their homeland for the unmonitored frontier of the New World. There, the Calvinist refugees were able to worship in peace and spread out to every corner of the continent. Many political leaders in the NAL-SLC are descendants of the very anti-episcopal Calvinists who fled to the New World in order to found their own Church.
  • Reformed Church of France (Huguenot Church): The direct descendant of the Reformed Church founded by John Calvin that flourished in its stronghold of Strasbourg in Jervaine. Half of Gaulhe, 40% of Jervaine, and numerous people in Francy, New Francy, Louisiane, Luxembourg, and France's former African territories.
  • Batavian Reformed Church: Main denomination of Batavia and its numerous colonial possessions. Only Reformed denomination to ordain women.

Congregationalist-Model Calvinism

  • Reformed Church of Albania (Kisha Reformuar e Shqipërisë/Κίσ̈α Ρεφορμουάρ ε Σ̈κιπερέσ̈ε/Σ̈ σ̈ ς̈): A rather strange ecclesiastical group within the larger Calvinist communion, itself a rather large umbrella-group. The first Protestant missionary group was founded in the 1870's by Scottish missionaries, who arrived in rural Albania just as the people were starting their own national awakening after centuries of being controlled by either Ottoman Turkish or Sicilian overlords. An Albanian national identity was finally asserting itself against these very same nations that were now being portrayed not as benefactors, but as rivals. Perhaps this is why several intellectuals involved in the Albanian National Movement were so eager to hear the ideas preached by Scottish missionaries who represented a fourth way for the Albanian people, that was neither Latin (Catholic), Greek (Orthodox or Uniate Catholic), or Turkish (Hanafi or Bektashi Sunni) that could be molded to fit the needs of the new nation. A group of disillusioned Uniate/Greek Catholics from Vlora/Valona/Avlonas accepted rebaptism by these Scottish missionaries and officially began calling themselves "Reformed Albanian Christians." These young intellectuals began zealously translating numerous Protestant tracts into Albanian for the benefit of their countrymen. They gained the ire of the collaborationist authorities when a former Roman Catholic priest joined their ranks and used his oratory and literary to uplift the movement. To this day, the majority of the descendants of these converts mostly hail from Uniate families in the coastal center of the country. At around the same time, American Presbyterian missionaries came from across the Atlantic to set up a mission in urban Tirana. The Americans, as Presbyterian Calvinists, wanted nothing to do with their European cousins from Scotland, who were Episcopal Calvinists. The Scots controlled their mission carefully and ruled it with an iron fist, not wanting to relinquish their mission to their natives not quite yet. The Americans, no strangers to Christian diversity, also made a conscientious decision to proselytize only to Muslims in the country (while the Scots mostly grabbed the low-hanging fruit from the Orthodox & Catholic Churches). This put them into the good graces of the Duesicilian authorities, who never trusted the Muslim populace. They were also a bit more experimental in their approach in outreach; whereas the Scots mandated their converts wear only Western dress and adopt to Western European cultural norms, these more progressive missionaries were content to allow their converts to keep writing Albanian in the Arabic script they were comfortable with and play music and all around remain culturally Albanian. This was due almost solely to an American Baptist minister, John Fredericks, a convert to Baptistism originally from Carolina who had gained some success as a missionary in Aquanishuonigy where his mission not only tolerated the local culture, but encouraged an adherence to it and an embrace of it. When he heard word that across the Ocean in tiny Albania that two groups of Calvinists were competing against each other to bring people to Christ, he found it a laughable situation. He packed up his family and belongings and moved from the NAL to Albania and he threw himself into his new missionary, giving his credentionals to the leader of the American Mission of Tirana and not forming his own, Baptist mission. After being given a position as traveling missionary, John quickly threw himself into his work, adopting Albanian dress (turban included), learning Albanian, and printing Bibles in Albanian with his own meager funds and donations he collected in the NAL-SLC. His first big break was converting the baba of an order from near the Bulgarian border, Ismaīl Effendi. The Sufi dervish & abbot of a Bektashi monastery was riding his mule from Tetovo back to Korytsá/Korcha when he came upon Pastor Fredericks, himself on a tiny donkey. The two exchanged greetings when Fredericks stopped the abbot, inquiring about his faith. He asked what he believed the "Bab" was. As a proud Twelver Imami Sunni, he replied that one who would be sent would be the 'Bab' (Gate) to reveal the Twelfth Imam, fresh out of occultation. Fredericks then asked if he had any knowledge of the Hebrew and/or Christian Scriptures. The dervish admitted that he had learned bits from his interactions with Christians & Jews, but he knew that their scriptures were corrupted and only the Quran was the true word of God. It was then that Fredericks dismounted his donkey and gave the man a copy of the Bible in his native tongue, imploring the Sufi leader to make the decision as to whether the Christian holy book was corrupted or not and seek him out in Tirana either way. The imam graciously accepted the gift and gave the mysterious Frank a gift back, a charm with a Quranic verse written on a rolled up piece of leather tied to a string. Both men put the gift in their saddlebags and rode their separate ways. Ismaīl Effendi did read his and underwent a complete change of heart and decided to accept Chris as the Gate (Báb, باب) to God. He rode to Tirana where he inquired as to where the Franks who gave out their holy books resided. He found them and immediately asked to become one in Christ with them. He was baptized that very same day, retaining his name, and making a profession of faith in front of the gathered mission that Sunday morning, returning only once to preach at his former monastery before being banished and attacked for being an apostate from Islam. The two became friends, with "Mr. Ishmael" becoming Fredericks' Albanian teacher & Fredericks becoming his Bible study teacher. They built new churches in the exact style of Turco-Balkan mosques and Bible study classrooms as tekke's, even keeping the minbar as a kind of pulpit from where ministers could preach and a mihrab as a place where someone could lead the congregation in singing. Anasheed were composed in Albanian about Christ & the Gospel, ministers wore the same clothes as Sufi dervishes, Bible verses in Kufic script wrapped around the walls of the prayer halls, and religious ecstatic dancing was performed, this time with twelve Sufis to commemorate the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, not the movement of the planets. Thus, some Protestants in Albania became almost sort of 'Christian Sufis,' which horrified the rigid and Westernizing Scots mission just as much as it horrified members of the Apostolic denominations, who decried this new faith community as ineffective syncretists at best and dangerous Islamizers at worst. During the First Great War, after it became impossible for both Scottish & American missionaries and mission administrators to travel to Albania, native Protestants seized the opportunity to assert their autonomy as members of the Albanian Reformed Church, not members of the Scottish/American Reformed Church Missions in Albania. The 1910's were the first time Westernized/"Scottish Rite" Calvinists worked together with the acculturated "nativist" Reformed Christians. The two groups were culturally too different and felt that they should be two different denominations before a group of their best-and-brightest decided that a third way was needed that was neither the episcopal polity of the Scots or presbyterian-polity of the Americans. For this reason, the new Reformed Church of Albania chose a congregational polity, so that each congregation could pick the most appropriate leaders and church policies that they needed. The old American Mission building was turned into the Church's headquarters, and between the two Wars, contact was reestablished with the worldwide network of Calvinist Churches, this time, under terms set by Albanians for Albanians. Whether they sing hymns translated from the Scots Leid and wear suits or dance to anasheed dedicated to Christ, Bab of God while wearing fezzes, Albanian Reformed Christians consider themselves one ecclesiastical body even though theologically they operate on a spectrum, from the more orthodox "Scots Rite" members along the coast and north to the more Baptist-leaning "Christian Sufis" inland (mostly due to Fredericks dispensing just as many Baptist-specific religious tracts as Bibles and Calvinist tracts to all those interested).
  • Reformed Church of South Africa: One of the most conservative Churches within the Calvinist umbrella. Congregations were unofficially racially segregated until the mid 20th Century. The formerly Dutch denomination switched to a congregationalist-polity because the various congregations made up of mostly English/Scots, Dutch, Colored, Indian, and Black Africans could not get along.
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