Why the Reformation Still Matters
By Michael Reeves and Tim Chester
Crossway, 2016, 223 pages
Michael Reeves previously wrote an excellent book on the history of the Reformation for non-academics titled, “The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation” (2010). See my review here.
Now Reeves and Tim Chester have written this book which deals more with the theology of the Reformation rather than with its history. Once again, the material is aimed at non-academics like myself, so those who break out in a rash when they pick up a theology treatise can take comfort.
I would guess most evangelicals know very little about the Reformation and don’t care to know. I imagine a large number of people saw the title of this post and skipped over it as quickly as they could. In our era of growing ecumenism, doctrine is becoming less and less important to people. But Reeves and Chester point out why the Reformation is still extremely important 499 years later. Mainline Protestant churches and even some evangelical leaders are lining up to sign ecumenical accords with the Catholic church. But Rome opposes the Biblical Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone today just as it did in 1517.
This is a short, easy-reading book that the reader should complete in three or four sittings. When they finish they’ll have a better understanding of what the fuss was all about in the 16th century and why it still matters in our day.
1. Justification – How Can We Be Saved?
Unfortunately, much of the Protestant literature of the past that examined Roman Catholicism spent more time examining secondary issues (Mary, Purgatory, the papacy, etc.) than the primary issue of justification; how a person appropriates the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus Christ. Luther said, “Justification is the article by which the church stands or falls.” The authors correctly give priority to the examination of the two opposing views of justification.
2. Scripture – How Does God Speak to Us?
3. Sin – What Is Wrong with Us?
4. Grace – What Does God Give Us?
5. The Theology of the Cross – How Do We Know What Is True?
6. Union with Christ – Who Am I?
7. The Spirit – Can We Truly Know God?
8. The Sacraments – Why Do We Take Bread and Wine?
9. The Church – Which Congregation Should I Join?
10. Everyday Life – What Difference Does God Make on Monday Mornings?
11. Joy and Glory – Does the Reformation Still Matter?