Rhone River Travel Journal–Prologue

Rhone RiverToday we begin our journey back to early Christian history and the Reformation via a Rhone River river cruise.

The Rhone River originates in the Swiss Alps upstream from Lake Geneva and flows 550 miles through Switzerland and south eastern France ultimately emptying into the Mediterranean Sea.

The cities that formed on its banks were important during the early Christian and one–Geneva–was perhaps the most important of the Reformation.

Why a cruise? After seven of them, I am convinced it is one of the best ways to travel. You return to the same room each night, you don’t have to pack and unpack, you find yourself in a new port every morning, and booking excursions are easy. If you are looking for a vacation where you can relax and just concentrate on seeing the sights with as few distractions and other responsibilities as possible, nothing beats a cruise. It also provides me with ample time to blog.

Now to the reading list. The list will give you some idea of the historical figures, events and places that will play a part in this travel journal.

1. History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, by J.H. Merle D’Aubigne>. This is one of the classics on the Reformation. I love it because rather than merely reciting events, D’Aubigne provides insightful commentary to the events he describes. D’Aubigne makes it easy to see the hand of God in the Reformation.

2. Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom, by Peter J. Leithart. Constantine is one of the most important persons in the history of Christendom. At the time he became a Christian he was the most powerful man in the world. How he exercised that power as a Christian is a fascinating and instructive study, especially for those interested in the workings of the kingdom of God on earth. Constantine is often maligned by historians; Leithart does a great job of setting the record straight.

3. John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor, by W. Robert Godfrey. I’ve read other biographies on Calvin. This one is my most recent read. This one is refreshingly well-written and strikes a nice balance between the story of Calvin’s life and the substance of his beliefs. It provides a nice overview in anticipation of our visit to Geneva.

4. Against Heresies, by Irenaeus. Irenaeus knew Polycarp, who was a disciple of John, the disciple of Jesus. Irenaeus was the bishop of the church in Lugdunum (now Lyon, France) during the persecution of emperor Marcus Aurelius. Irenaeus wrote this book in response to the greatest heresy of his day, Gnosticism. Lyon is on our itinerary.

5. Ecclesiastical History, by Eusebius of Caesarea. A history of the first 300 years of the church written by a church leader who lived it and actually knew Constantine. Eusebius cites from documents in existence at the time to support his history. This is a must read for any Christian interested in early church history.

With that we are off to France! GS

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