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The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation

By Michael Reeves
November 2009 | Review by Lowri Iorwerth


The story of the Protestant Reformation is a gripping tale, packed with drama. It was set in motion on 31 October 1517 when Martin Luther posted his ninety-five theses on the castle church door in Wittenberg. What motivated the Reformers? And what were they really like? In this lively, accessible and informative introduction, Michael Reeves brings to life the colourful characters of the Reformation, unpacks their ideas, and shows the profound and personal relevance of Reformation thinking for today.

  • Publisher: Inter-Varsity Press
  • ISBN: 978-1783595297
  • Pages: 192
  • Price: £9.19
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Book Review

The unquenchable flame is a clear, easy read. Lively and humorous in places, it’s ideal for kindling an interest in the Reformation and the events that have shaped Christianity in Europe. However, don’t be fooled into thinking it lacks depth. It is crammed full of important details and useful insights.

The book charts a time when the world awoke to the sound of God’s Word. Beginning with the pre-Reformation state of Europe before there was much hint of discontent with the Roman Catholic Church, the author shows how the Lord worked in the hearts of men like Erasmus, Luther, Zwingli and Calvin.

He convicted them of the supremacy of God’s Word over the Pope’s. These men and many others fought to release the people from the false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. They introduced them to a salvation that could not be bought or earned but was graciously given by a personal God who spoke directly to them through his Word.

Michael Reeves succeeds in bringing the Reformation to life and making its significance obvious. One of the book’s strengths is that it glorifies God rather than the men he chose to use. The Reformers should certainly be admired and their example followed, but the example they set was one of devotion to following Christ.

What also makes this book different is its very human portrayal of the Reformers. Much of its humour comes from stories of their home lives. Mrs Luther, for instance, was one of a group of nuns convinced of salvation by faith alone. Luther helped these nuns escape the convent and found them all husbands. He married Katie because she was so feisty that no one else would have her!

This book has a further interesting feature in that the main text is interspersed with informative asides. Every few pages, there is a box of text giving additional detail about a person or event that may not link directly with the chapter but is interesting nonetheless.

I enjoyed this book very much, and it has certainly encouraged me to find out more about the Reformation.

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