Since we are marking the 499th anniversary of the great Reformation of the sixteenth century this month – and we plan to have lots of posts on it, we should also pay attention to new books being published with Reformation themes. (I will give you an early alert about our special Reformation Standard Bearer issue coming out the 15th of this month. It is on Martin Luther and contains an article on books on this magisterial Reformer. Watch for it soon!)
Today we note two of them, one of which I just received in the mail for review from Crossway yesterday. Its title is Why the Reformation Still Matters and is co-authored by Michael Reeves and Tim Chester (2016; 219 pp.). In the introduction the authors begin to answer the question implied by their title:
But five hundred years on, does the Reformation still matter? It matters because this is our story. If you are Anglican, Baptist, Brethren, Congregational, Independent, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, or Reformed, then these are your roots. Your history can be traced back to these events five hundred years ago.
But are the Reformers like embarrassing grandparents? Are they part of our story we would rather leave behind or can safely ignore? Or are they perhaps heroes we are content to lionize at a safe distance?
After pointing out how the Reformation and its Reformers take much criticism for the divisions it caused in the church, the authors answer those questions this way:
…Consider what was at stake. At its heart the Reformation was a dispute about how we know God and how we can be right with him. At stake was our eternal future, a choice between heaven and hell.
And it still is. That our modern world finds the Reformation alien says as much about us as it does about the Reformers. It exposes our preoccupation with this material world and this momentary life. …For the Reformers there was no need more pressing than assurance in the face of divine judgment, and there was no act more loving than to proclaim a message of grace that granted eternal life to those who responded with faith.
The Reformation still matters because eternal life still matters (pp.17-18).
If you are interested in reviewing this book, contact me here or by email.
The second title to point out today is newly published by Reformation Trust (part of Ligonier Ministries). Co-edited by Dr. R. C. Sproul, Sr. and Dr. Stephen Nichols, The Legacy of Luther is a collection of essays on Martin Luther – his life, work, and theology (hc, 308 pp.).
John Macarthur gives this summary in his foreword:
Luther’s indelible legacy will always be the example of his faith. His heroic courage, deep passion, steadfast integrity, infectious zeal, and all his other virtues are the fruit of his faith. This one man made an impact on the church and on the world that still influences all Bible-believing Christians today.
Luther would not have sought any honor for himself. By his own testimony, he owed everything to Christ. The story of his life confirms that testimony. Conversion utterly transformed Luther from an anxious, fainthearted monk into a paragon of confident, contagious faith. The more he faced opposition from Rome, the more his biblical convictions deepened. Everything positive in Luther’s life points back to his life-changing encounter with the righteousness of God and the glory of Christ in the gospel.
Look for more on this title later, but for now be sure to browse the special website linked to it above.
Note bene: Reformation Heritage Books is offering this hardcover book for $12.00 at present. This would be a good book to add to your family or personal library for reading in the next year.