Caspar Olevianus: Saved For Ministry

On his 23rd birthday, 10 August 1559, Caspar Olevianus had a chance to preach his first sermon in German in a lecture hall at Trier, Germany (his birthplace). He had been waiting long for this moment. His love for the gospel had bloomed in his college days, when he had first come into contact with the Protestant Reformation. His desire to communicate it to others turned into a vow after he nearly escaped death at the University of Bourges, France.

…That terrifying moment was still vivid in his mind. He was twenty at that time, when his 15-year old friend Herman Ludwig decided to cross the Auron River with some college buddies. It was a terrible idea, since everyone was drunk. Unable to dissuade his friend, Olevianus stayed on shore, warily watching as the boat pulled away. The vessel had barely arrived midstream when the tipsy company began to rock the boat, causing it to capsize.

At that time, most people in continental Europe didn’t know how to swim, so all the young men began to drown. Olevianus dove into the river to save Herman, but was not successful. In fact, he would have drowned too if one of Herman’s servants, mistaking him for his master, hadn’t come to his rescue. In the fright of the moment, Olevianus promised God to serve him as preacher to the Germans if his life could be spared.

In 1557, a year after the accident, Olevianus fulfilled his father’s ambition by graduating in law from the University of Bourges. He returned to Trier to work as a lawyer but his promise to God and his desire to learn more about the Reformed faith were too compelling. After only eight months in Trier, he left for Geneva where he met John Calvin, William Farel, and Theodore Beza. He also visited Zurich, where he met Peter Martyr Vermigli and Heinrich Bullinger. These visits solidified his decision to study theology and preach the gospel in his hometown. He remained in Geneva two years to complete his studies in theology. Read more»

Simonetta Carr“Caspar Olevianus and the Birthday Sermon That Split a Town in Half”

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