Jean Gerson: Peacemaker to His Religious Community and Peacemaker to the People

Bibliographic information:

Lamb, Gregory E. “Jean Gerson: Peacemaker to His Religious Community and Peacemaker to the People.” Brethren Life and Thought 64, no. 2 (2020): 81–85.


This article was a finalist in the 2016 Baker Peace Essay Contest held at Bethany Theological Seminary. Since I was a finalist, my article was published in their recently released (64.2 [2020]) themed, peer-reviewed academic journal (Brethren Life and Thought).


This article explores the life and ministry of Jean Charlier Gerson (1363–1429), an oft-neglected figure in church history who played a pivotal role both as a reformer in one of the darkest moments of the Church’s history (the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries), but also an innovator in pastoral theology and education. Gerson thought of himself as an “apostle of unity,” and his greatest strengths as Chancellor of the University of Paris during the Great Western Schism were his irenic voice and ability to be a peacemaker to his religious community. Gerson also was a peacemaker to the people. The horrors surrounding the Black Plague had decimated the population of Western Christendom, including the number of active clergy. The abandonment of the sick and dying had become a pervasive problem not only during the years surrounding the Black Death (1348–50), but this problem still lingered in Gerson’s day. Gerson wrote an important work, the Opusculum Tripertitium (sometimes referred to as Opusculum Tripartitum), which became a highly influential document for both the education of rank-and-file-Christians, as well as the clergy in properly caring for the dying. The third section of this work (Scientia Mortis) would become the bedrock upon which a new genre of literature would be built, the Ars Moriendi, which enjoyed pervasive popularity across both Protestant and Catholic circles until the eighteenth century. Not only was Gerson a peacemaker in reconciling the clergy and family members who had abdicated their responsibility to the care for the dying, but, indeed, Gerson’s writings made it possible for those suffering and dying to have peace with God.


Bethany Theological Seminary (website:

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