3 Bullet Thursday: How about a radical reformer named David Joris

One of my readers read a post on the history of the Baptists where I commented on the Anabaptists.  That reader suggested I  research a man named David Joris who was a reformer (Anabaptist) in the Netherlands, so here it is.

The Impact of the Protestant Reformation in Europe

When Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the church door at Wittenberg, the dissatisfaction with the Roman Catholic Church spread like a wildfire throughout Europe.  There seemed to be ‘reformations’ popping up in all of the European populace.  Lengthy postings could be made (even books have been written) on the impact of the Reformation on France and England and Ireland and Spain and Denmark and the rest.  People all over were encountering and then embracing much of the theology of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Menno Simons.  The Protestant Reformation truly was a game changer.  People thought one way about life (especially the church and eternal life) in the late 1400’s and by the late 1500’s they were thinking in a totally new and different way.  There was not a people group that was untouched by the ‘rebellion’ of the Reformation.  One group I would like to write a little bit on today is the Reformation in the Netherlands and especially an Anabaptist bishop named David Joris.

One of the Anabaptist bishops

David Joris was born in Flanders, Belgium around 1501.  He was an accomplished glass painter (some of his paintings still can be seen today). While travelling around in the Netherlands he came in contact with the ideas of Martin Luther.  After listening to stories about the Anabaptists being martyred for their faith (and so being impressed with their dedication to Jesus), in 1533 he was baptized into the Anabaptist Church.  He became so passionate about his beliefs that one day during a gathering of Roman Catholics he adamantly, verbally opposed them.  For this action and rejection of Catholic theology Joris was arrested and for punishment they used a steel ball to bore a hole in his tongue to stop him from preaching and teaching ‘heresy’.

People started listening and following Joris he became an Anabaptist bishop in the city of Delft, Netherlands.  He was regarded by many of his followers (and himself) to be prophet from God.  William R. Estep in his book  The Anabaptist Story says Joris was an extreme inspirationalist, which means he claimed that the Bible was inadequate and therefore needed to be added to by his own ‘inspired’ writings.  For this extreme belief he was disowned by the biblical Anabaptists in 1536.  He was later condemned as a heretic in Delft in 1544 and therefore fled for his life.  Eventually he settled in Basel, Switzerland under an assumed name, that of Johann Van Brugge.  He apparently kept his radical ideas to himself after this time for he died in 1556 and it took the people of the town 3 years to figure out that Johan Van Brugge was in reality David Joris.  So hated was he that once they figured out his true identity they dug up Johann’s body and burned it publicly.

This David Joris was an interesting person who due to his contributions to Anabaptist history in the Netherlands deserves to be studied and examined more closely.

The 3 bullets for David Joris

Here are my 3 takeaways after studying David Joris:

  • He had an unbelievable passion for preaching what he considered the truth of Christianity.

  • He was one of the names in Anabaptist history to be remembered for his contributions to Anabaptists in the Netherlands.

  • He was labeled a heretic by other Anabaptists who judged the idea of him being the ‘next David’ (after King David, and Jesus) and preaching his prophesies to be unbiblical.


Is there some favorite person or event in Church history of yours that you would like me to research and write about?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

Good night and God bless!