Tag Archives: Reformation

The Story of Christianity: Volume 2 – Review

Story of ChristianityIn the previous volume of The Story of Christianity, Justo González took us to the dawn of the Reformation. In this second volume, he brings us from the Reformation to the present day.

Although more centuries were covered in the first volume, the sheer amount of change in the Christian church over these few centuries requires just as much length of treatment. The Reformation itself, was a complex event that had many causes and streams. It was so much more than just Martin Luther rediscovering salvation by faith.

We tend to focus on Luther and Calvin, but there were other things that were taking place. This includes the Anabaptists, but it also includes changes within the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church has its own story of what was happening at this time, and not just as background to the Reformation.

The Reformation was more than resetting the church and starting a new “normal.” It was the start of a number of continuing changes, both among Catholics and Protestants. González takes us through the rapid changes, including the First and Second Great Awakenings, that influenced the way in which Evangelicalism looks today.

The second volume of the The Story of Christianity continues González’s effective and clear teaching of the development of the Christian church. He takes complex events and makes them understandable but without sacrificing accuracy.

If you are interested in why the church looks the way it does today, you need to read about what happen the previous few centuries. The Story of Christianity: Volume 2 will help you do that.

If you are interested, you can get this book as a FREE audiobook with a FREE trial of Audible. Click on the link and search for this book and start listening today.

Here I Stand – Review

Here I StandWith the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, I felt compelled to do some reading on Martin Luther. I had a book on my shelf that had been there for a while and so I grabbed Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand.

This is not a new book. Bainton died in 1984 and Here I Stand was published in 1950. Anyone looking to do some serious study on Luther will want to consult some newer books.

Still, I quite enjoyed Here I Stand. Bainton was a talented writer and I truly felt like I was getting to know Luther. The book was filled with illustrations that were created at the time of Luther and it only made the story more real.

Bainton focuses on the adult life of Luther and perhaps bypasses some of the negative aspects of Luther more than people would like. That is not to say that he ignores all of Luther’s faults. I found particularly interesting the discussion of Luther’s interactions with Zwingli and with the Anabaptists.

If you would a good and solid introduction to Martin Luther, I would recommend Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand. It is a good start to more recent and intensive studies on Luther.

Should We Celebrate Martin Luther?

ReformationWe have just reached the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his 95 theses on the Wittenberg Door and the start of the Protestant Reformation.

Like many, I posted many links to my Facebook page of articles on Martin Luther. My observation is that articles on Martin Luther fell into two groups: those that praised him and called us to celebrate his achievements and those who called us to reject him because some of his unhealthy views.

Those that were critical of Luther were not just Roman Catholics that consider him a heretic who divided the church. Much of the criticism of Luther was aimed at his opinion of the Jews.

Luther had a complicated view of Judaism. He seemed to be rather sympathetic toward the Jews in his early years but became more critical over time. The clearest and ugliest statement was Luther’s The Jews and Their Lies.

I have no desire to defend Luther’s anti-semitism. I will say that we should be careful not to paint Luther as a radical bigot in an age of toleration. Luther was a man of his time and he shared these views with many others. That doesn’t make it right, but we do need to place Luther in proper context.

Without excusing Luther’s view of the Jews (or any of his other faults, as anti-semitism was not the only problem), that doesn’t negate the accomplishments that Luther did make.

Luther called the Roman Catholic Church on some pretty major problems. The selling of indulgences to fund building projects was wrong. Luther also had some good biblical insight on how one becomes right with God. Luther’s translation of the Bible into German was an important step in developing biblical literacy.

Because Luther was wrong in certain areas does not make him wrong in every area. We do not have to label him as a complete hero or a complete villain. We can see Martin Luther as a fallible person who held some bad views but who was used to make a significant impact on the church and the world.

Can we celebrate Martin Luther? Without ignoring his faults, we can celebrate his accomplishments.

Thoughts on the Legacy of the Reformation

ReformationAs you know, this years is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses on the Wittenberg door. Whether one is Catholic, Protestant or non-religious, you cannot deny the impact of this event.

What is the lasting impact of the Reformation? I asked a number of historians what they thought and here are their responses.

I agree with Lindberg: “In one way or another…the legacies of the Reformations have affected every aspect of modern life and thought.” (Carter Lindberg, The Reformations, 357.) The good would be the reform of the church (both Protestant and Catholic), and positive developments in governance, science, liturgy, and literature. The bad would be the violent breakup of Christendom, and 500 years of internecine warfare between Christian communities.Gordon Heath, McMaster Divinity College

The legacy of the Reformation is the recovery, by part of Christendom, of the biblical, apostolic teaching on a variety of subjects, including justification by grace alone through faith alone, and the authority of Scripture, as God’s revealed word, over all human teachings and authorities. While the recovery of these teachings tragically resulted in opposition from the church authorities and therefore in new divisions in the church, such divisions should not be blamed on God’s truth or its recovery, but on our human fallenness.Kevin Flatt, Redeemer University College

The legacy of the Reformation essentially boils down to two important points: 1) the need for fidelity to Scripture’s authority; 2) a love for the gospel of faith alone apart from works. It’s both the meaning of the Reformation, and its continuing relevance.Ian Clary, Colardo Christian University

What about you? What do you see as the legacy of the Reformation?

Martin Luther – PBS Documentary

One of the most influential figures in all of Christian history is Martin Luther. Love him or hate him, we must admit that he had a great impact and his legacy lives on.

PBS put out a documentary on Martin Luther that you might find interesting.