Book Review: Why the Reformation Still Matters. Michael Reeves and Tim Chester; Crossway, 2016.
“The Reformation was always intended to be an ongoing project. One of its slogans was semper reformanda, usually translated as ‘always reforming’; but a better translation may be ‘always being reformed’ (by God’s Word). It describes not a movement forward to some uncharted horizon but a continual movement back to God’s Word.”—Michael Reeves; Tim Chester. Why the Reformation Still Matters (Kindle Locations 191-193). Crossway.
As with anything I have read from Michael Reeves, there is a strong evangelistic flavour. Considering the fact that he and Tim Chester are writing about the Protestant Reformation and the recovery of the plain doctrine of justification, how could it be anything else?
In exploring key emphases of the Reformation, the book begins with the doctrine of justification. The book sets forth in plain, strong terms the necessity of justification, and a clear, convincing understanding of it. The relationship of justification to sanctification is touched on, as well, in a concise and clear fashion.
The material covered by the authors is presented cogently. This makes the book useful and rewarding for pastors and lay people who may have neither the time nor the inclination to delve into the academic and historical details and background of the arguments. I say this as a compliment to their efforts. For anyone wanting to delve into more comprehensive study, this book would serve well as a guide for orienting and directing such study.
Numerous quotations from the main characters of the Reformation help clarify the issues at hand. The quotations are pointed and not only illustrate the matters at hand, but also help to bring the main issues of the gospel to bear on our own 21st Century context. The goal of the book, as stated in the title, is certainly accomplished. The chapter on Sin exemplifies this accomplishment powerfully. The difference between Erasmus’ shallow view of sin and Luther’s view is brought into sharp focus, and the reformer’s radical view of sin brings out the urgency that Luther felt, just as we should understand and feel it.
Chapter 6, Union with Christ, is a truly uplifting example how the Reformation clarified and freed a misunderstood doctrine from medieval obfuscation, turning it into an exhilarating discovery of hope and comfort, assuring God’s children of adoption and transformation. The pastoral and vital connections of the writers to their material shines brightly here and throughout the rest of the book. This is wonderful stuff!
It is not often that I encounter writing on doctrinal matters that is so concise, clear, and understandable… and, frankly, exciting! For anyone who has been hesitant about knowing more about the issues of the Reformation because it would seem like dry and dusty ancient history, get this book. It might just keep you awake at night. Highly recommended.
Thank you to Crossway for providing a complimentary copy of this book through the Blog Review Program.