Geoffrey Butler has been awarded the 2021 Julian Gwyn Prize in Baptist and Anabaptist History and Thought for his article “Menno Simons: Unsung Hero of the Reformation,” to be published in Didaskalia.
The Gwyn Prize recognizes the best article approved for publication in a peer-reviewed journal by a doctoral- or masters-level student in the field of Baptist or Anabaptist history and thought. It is sponsored by the Acadia Centre for Baptist and Anabaptist Studies (ACBAS) and named in honour of Dr Julian Gwyn, a distinguished historian and former ACBAS member.
Geoffrey Butler is a PhD. Student at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto. He is a native of Laurenceton, Newfoundland and Labrador, and a two-time graduate of Tyndale University. In his article, Butler recovers a leading figure of the Radical Reformation from relative historical obscurity, positioning him as a key forerunner of contemporary evangelicalism. In contrast to some strains of modern evangelicalism, Simons offers a model of religious tolerance, principled pacifism, and spiritual empathy. Against the individualism of some contemporary evangelicals, Simons demonstrated a commitment to faith, rooted in a corporate vision of Christianity that nevertheless respected personal conversion.
According to Dr. Michael Dennis, chair of the award selection committee, “Butler’s essay is interesting in that it highlights Simon’s dissent from some of the defining theological positions of the Reformation’s leading lights. Skeptical of predestination, cognizant of the woundedness of the human condition, Simons postulated a vision of Christianity that incorporated faith and good works, offering an example of Christian commitment that challenged prominent voices in his own era but continues to speak to the modern search for religious authenticity.”
Butler commented, “I’ve found it puzzling that many evangelicals who (rightly!) treasure the theological impact of figures such as Luther and Calvin overlook the contributions of early Anabaptist thought – despite the latter’s profound impact upon the development of evangelical theology. My hope is that works such as this one will help address this imbalance.”