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

HTS Theological Studies 76 (1) (2020)
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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.



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