The Power of One

Reformation wall

What can you do when you live in a time of great change and upheaval? How can you make a difference when you are just one person or family up against powerful elites who seemingly control the destinies of everyone? The following story by Dr. George Grant reveals what one person can do.

Some men’s greatness may be seen in how largely they loom over the movements they launched. But greater men are they whose movements loom large over them — even to the point of obscuring them from view. Gerhard Groote was just such a man.

It would be difficult to find a single page of modern history written about him. But it would be even more difficult to find a single page of modern history that has not been profoundly affected by him. He lived in the tumultuous days of the fourteenth century. A contemporary of John Wycliffe, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Jan Hus, he saw the scourge of the Black Death sweep a quarter of the population of the world away in a wave of pestilence; he saw France and England locked in the intractable conflagration of the Hundred Years War; he saw the Western church sundered by the Great Schism that produced two, sometimes three, sometimes even four, popes; and he saw the rise of the universities and the smothering influence of humanistic scholasticism. Churches were driven by corruption, kingdoms were shaken by instability, families were splintered by adversity, and the very foundations of God honoring civilization in the West seemed to be crumbling.

They were dire days indeed. The problems facing men and nations seemed all but insurmountable. Doomsayers had a heyday. Sound familiar?

Groote was raised in the home of a prosperous merchant and received the finest education available. He found it difficult to take the claims of his academic masters, his ecclesiastical mentors, and his church peers seriously. Like so many of his contemporaries, he concluded that the overt wickedness of the church and the blatant debauchery of the university mitigated against any serious belief in the gospel. As a result, he ran from conviction and spent his youth and his wealth on reckless and heedless dissipation. He moved progressively from spoiled brat to party animal to insufferable boor. When he was finally arrested by grace and converted, he had tasted all the pleasures the medieval world had to offer — and still he yearned for more.

Read the rest at World History Institute