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The Reformation: What You Need To Know And Why

By John Stott
May 2018 | Review by Matthew Cox
  • Publisher: Monarch Books
  • ISBN: 0857218743
  • Pages: 96
  • Price: £5.99
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Book Review

This small paperback from the Lausanne Movement is a work of two halves. First comes Michael Reeves’ introduction to the world-changing events of 500 years ago. The reader is led through Martin Luther’s protest against indulgences, his new understanding of the righteousness of God and the events that transpired at Worms and Wartburg.

Thereafter comes the English martyrs and Bible translators, followed by John Calvin. Calvin’s support for the Reformation in France and elsewhere is highlighted, demonstrating the international nature of the movement. Reeves goes on to address the ‘Solas’ at the heart of the Reformation before closing with a call for the church to be ‘always reforming according to the Word of God’ (p.26).

At only 26 pages, this part of the book is inevitably selective, using broad brushstrokes and having to omit a great deal. Nevertheless, it manages successfully to provide a concise account of the critical events setting the Reformation in motion.

The second part is a 32-page paper given by John Stott in 1982 about the beliefs on which the Reformation was built. Following the structure of the Apostles’ Creed, it describes the respective roles of the three Persons of the Trinity in the plan of redemption. It explains why these fundamental truths must be believed, obeyed, proclaimed and defended.

This latter part is more about the basic doctrines of historic Christianity than the distinctive teachings of the Reformers, who are hardly referenced. As often with Stott, some passing remarks will raise the odd eyebrow, such as his readiness to accept some non-evangelicals as fellow Christians (p.28), or his non-committal position on special creation (p.31).

There are several appendices, including the full text of the 95 Theses and questions for further study. The book is serious in tone but has a readable style. Its brevity and simplicity commend it as a first taste for readers with a limited appreciation of the Reformation and evangelical beliefs. It would also make a good gift for non-Christians with an interest in history.

Matthew Cox

Bethersden, Kent

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