Original Research - Special Collection: COVID-19 from a Theological Perspective

The Poor of Christ in the Roman Church: Role and relevance for today

Horst Müller, Jerry Pillay
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 1 | a6199 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i1.6199 | © 2020 Horst Muller, Jerry Pillay | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 June 2020 | Published: 17 December 2020

About the author(s)

Horst Müller, Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Jerry Pillay, Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

A lay movement known as the Poor of Christ, incorrectly referred to as the Waldensians, started in the Roman Church in 1176 and rapidly spread through Europe despite severe persecution by the church. Through their values and methods, they impacted on the communities where they were present. This article aims to show their role and contributions indicating its impact on the 16th century Reformation and relevance for the church today. It does this by examining selected themes from the Poor of Christ: their life-transforming faith, the strengthening of laity, the equal role of women in ministry, the importance of teaching and living the faith, a focused rather than fenced theology and loyalty to the one Church of Christ. The article also draws reference to the COVID-19 pandemic and explores what we can learn from the Poor of Christ in addressing this situation.

Contribution: This article puts the spotlight on an overlooked lay movement that contributed significantly in preparing the climate for the 16th Century Reformation. Their example shows that the real strength of church is through members empowered to holistically live their faith. The article shows the current relevance of their values and methods.


Keywords

Waldensians; Valdes; Poor of Christ; reformation; laity; COVID-19; women in Church; authority of scripture; authority of Christ

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