Servant of God
by Connie Meyer
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Those were the Dark Ages, the days of knights and castles
and kings and queens, of monasteries, Vikings and monks.
But one monk stood out from all the rest. One monk stood
firm for the truth. This is the story of Gottschalk of Orbais, a light
of truth in the darkness of his age—a light of truth in
For several years the RFPA has discussed publishing books
for younger readers and Gottschalk: Servant of God
represents our first effort. This book is intended for
high school ages. Because the story is
intriguing and the history of Gottschalk is not well-known,
adults will also enjoy this book and find it profitable.
"I've found [the biography of] Gottschalk very
encouraging. How wonderful that the Lord kept him faithful
though standing alone and imprisoned for nearly 20 years!" -
W. Yorkshire, England
"What a beautifully produced book this is!" -
Listen to the audio of a lecture on
Medieval Confessor of God's Absolute Sovereignty."
Watch the video of a lecture "Gottschalk: Medieval Confessor of God's Absolute Sovereignty"
Q. & A.
Published in the English Churchman (15 & 22, April 2016)
This helpful little book was
recently published by Reformed Free Publishing Association
(RFPA) based in Michigan, USA. I had never heard of
Gottschalk before and what a treat and tonic I had to read
about his life. In a day when even orthodox Calvinistic
thinkers are watering down their message to present a more
palatable presentation of the gospel, this book is an
antidote to such conduct. Even more surprising is a clear
defence of the twin doctrines of election and reprobation
from a Benedictine monk in the 9th
century. The Westminster Confession does state in Chapter 3
section 8 that the doctrine of predestination is to be
handled prudently and carefully but this chapter of the
confession clearly proclaims the doctrines of election and
Gottschalk was born around
806 in Saxony into a high ranking family. However, this
child was born the “The Dark Ages” and the state of
Christianity was very poor. His parents donated him to a
monastery along with his inheritance. Any student of the
Roman Catholic Church knows how the people can be
manipulated form money in return for eternal security.
However God, in his providence, had different plans for
The book charts the life of
Gottschalk through his monastic training and then his public
church life, where he made the most audacious stand for
sovereign grace. We are presented with a young man who was
soaked in the Scriptures and the church fathers, especially
Augustine. We trace a line that flows from the apostles to
Augustine to Calvin in the clear presentation of election
and reprobation. When in attendance at the Synod of Mainz in
829 (when he was approximately 23!), he set out his
confession of faith as follows:
Gottschalk, believe and confess, profess and testify, from
God the Father, through God the Son, and in God the Holy
Spirit, and affirm and assert before God and His Holiness
that predestination is double whether of election to peace
or of reprobation to death. Because just as God, by free
grace, has unchangeably predestined all His elect to life
eternal, so likewise (similiter) the same unchangeable God
by just judgment has unchangeably predestinated all the
reprobate, who in the day of judgment are damned on account
of their evil merits, to merited eternal death” (p. 75).
What a clear statement of
truth from a Roman Catholic monk! He would shame the vast
majority of Protestantism today. Note also his tender age.
We are said to expect too much of our young people but in
reality we expect too little. Gottschalk is an example of
how young men can be fully theological literate when they
truly desire the truth.
Gottschalk was harassed,
silenced, beaten and imprisoned for his faith, and died
defending sovereign grace. Just like today, “Calvinist”
church men stated they were Augustinian in doctrine but then
taught predestination, like Gottschalk’s foe Hincmar, in
language which is not distinct or clear and with no room for
reprobation. A synod at Quierzy declared Gottschalk a
heretic. He was flogged within an inch of his life so that
his blood stained the ground and he was forced to throw his
writings in the fire. He was led bleeding, bruised and
wounded to a prison room. Even as he was dying, Hincmar
tempted Gottschalk to water down his views with the promise
of the sacraments and a Christian burial. However, he did
not bend. In the final chapter of the book, it is put as
knew that long ago in eternity God had chosen him to be an
elect of God in Jesus Christ for no other reason than that
God wanted to. By himself Gottschalk was only a man, a
sinner like everyone else. He knew that. The reason for
election is in God alone. Gottschalk knew that too. God does
not change his decrees. Gottschalk knew the devil cannot
steal one elect out of God’s hand. Even locked away in his
prison cell, Gottschalk knew the devil could not steal him.
His election and salvation was sure. His path in this life
was sure. His place in heaven was sure. In that knowledge
Gottschalk could die for the truth he loved (pp. 121-122).
Gottschalk died around 868.
He gave his life and death for sovereign grace. Oh, for men
like this today who will stand for orthodox truth instead of
saying you can be a Calvinist but preach like an Arminian! I
strongly recommend this book. It is an easy read which would
not challenge teenagers. We need to hear the truth and this
is a superb introduction to election and reprobation.