Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cipriano de Valera: A Spanish Reformer, Part 6

This is the sixth and last post in a series. Access prior posts below:

A Forgotten Reformer (sbcIMPACT!) published September 23, 2011

Here’s a section from the end of the short biography[1] on Cipriano de Valera:
Valera draws a flattering picture when he writes in the Exhortation addressed to the reader of his Bible: “There is no city nor is there, so to speak, any borough or any mansion in Spain that has not had, and has not even now, one or more persons whom God in his infinite mercy has enlightened with the light of his gospel. It has become proverbial in Spain when they speak of a learned man, to say: he is so learned that there is danger of his becoming a Lutheran [Protestant]. Our adversaries have done all that they could, to quench this light of the gospel, and then they have outraged many in Spain by the loss of property, of life and of honour. And it is to be observed that the more they outrage, the more they scourge, expose in sanbenitos, send to the galleys or to perpetual imprisonment and into the flames, so much the more do the evangelicals multiply, for ‘the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.’” (157, brackets mine).
Valera truly believed the Reformation could catch on in Spain. He’d seen it in his own life and in the lives of many others he’d known through the years. Even now I’ve read stories of missionaries in Spain praying that believers would make themselves known and join a church. If it occurs in our day, it is likely that there were many believers during Valera’s time who managed to avoid persecution and death, but at the expense of an open gospel proclamation.

Today in most Muslim and some Asian countries the ability to speak openly about the gospel is limited. The danger is real. Yet for those who truly look into the claims of Christianity, there is hope. Just as in Spain, those who take the claims of the Bible for what they are run the risk of becoming a Christian.

The Reformation was not just an exercise in rhetoric and polemics—it cost “property, life, and honor”. Yet, for all the persecution, the church continued to grow. Valera was not alone in his faith. Many Spaniards preceded and followed after him. Today there is a surge of Evangelicalism amongst Hispanics in the U.S. and in former Spanish colonies. Perhaps revival will one day make its way back to Spain, as Valera hoped and prayed it would.

Where Christians are willing to die for their faith God is raising up new believers to take their place. After all, as Tertullian once said, and Valera has repeated, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

[1] Boehmer, Edward & Benjamin B. Wiffen. (1904). Bibliotheca Wiffeniana: Spanish Reformers of Two Centuries from 1520. Karl J. Trübner: Strassburg. Google Books. Digitized May 15, 2008.

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