Carl R Trueman
Christian Focus Publications
Star Rating: 4
In four brief, lively, readable chapters, Carl Trueman explains with feeling and humour some reasons why the Reformation of 500 years ago is still vitally relevant for the church today.
The author’s simple definition of the Reformation in the first chapter makes it clear that what the Reformation was yesterday is what the church should be today and tomorrow — ‘a move to place God, as he has revealed himself in Christ, at the centre of the church’s life and thought’ (p.17).
Then Trueman goes on to focus on three areas from the Reformation. In chapter two, he sees much of evangelicalism today as shallow because we do not understand or know of, for instance, Luther’s ‘theology of the cross’.
What that means, he explains, is that ‘once we are saved, we can expect suffering and weakness as part and parcel of the Christ-centred life’ (p.53).
In the third chapter, he insists that to be Christ-centred (the Word living) means being Bible-centred (the Word written). Everything that we know about Jesus Christ is from the inspired Scriptures, so being Christ-centred means having the Scriptures at the very centre.
Possibly the most interesting and controversial chapter is the fourth, which is on assurance. He’s spot on that this is a crucial area and also a much neglected area of Christian faith and living today.
He identifies two groups he feels are misguided on this issue, the ‘legalists’ and the ‘emotional high-fliers’. You might be able to guess what their problems are, but you must read the book to find out!
Not everyone will agree with him on every point. However, with that caveat, I would definitely recommend this book.
It is not aimed only at theologians. Those who know little about the Reformation will be helped by this brief introduction and perhaps go on to read further about that critical period of history, which is of huge importance to the church of today and the future.