Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Book Review: The Sixteenth-Century Reformation of the Church


The Sixteenth-Century Reformation of the Church
David J. Engelsma (ed.)
Reformed Free Publishing Association, Michigan, USA, 2007
Softback, viii + 194pp.
ISBN 978-0-916206-95-6
£7.00 + £0.70 (P&P) = £7.70  (Click here to order from the CPRC Bookstore.)

The Sixteenth-Century Reformation of the Church is a superb collection of articles that were originally published in special Reformation issues of the Standard Bearer, a semi-monthly periodical, also published by the Reformed Free Publishing Association. The book is divided into three parts: biographical, historical and doctrinal.

In five fascinating chapters, the first section of the book comprises biographies of Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Knox. There are many today who like to identify themselves with the Reformers and profess allegiance to their teachings, but are we willing (like them) to suffer for the gospel’s sake?

The historical section includes two chapters on a lesser-known part of Reformation history—the history of Anabaptism. Reformed people are well acquainted (or should be!) with the errors of Rome, but are we awake to the Anabaptist heresy? Anabaptist teachings, including a rejection of infant baptism, have all but taken over in many Protestant and Reformed churches today. It would not be an overstatement to say Reformed people should buy and read this book for these two chapters alone!

Although the doctrinal section treats such weighty matters as the doctrine of Scripture, justification and predestination, the authors write for the people and not just scholars. The book’s aim is to introduce the Reformation to those who may be ignorant of this great work of God, and to remind those who are familiar with it of its abiding worth and vital relevance for today. This section treats subjects as varied as Luther on justification and on preaching, Calvin on double predestination and on the Christian life, and the Reformers’ view of biblical interpretation, as well as chapters on "Rome’s Dreadful Doctrine of Purgatory," "The Reformation’s Awed Love of God" and "An Eschatology of Grace." Sadly, what the Reformers believed on these things are being openly repudiated today, even by those who claim the name Reformed. Witness the rejection of justification by faith alone by the Federal Vision heresy and the denial of the authority of Scripture involved in the recent decision of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland accepting and approving homosexuals as church members.

This book will stimulate the reader to delve more deeply into the lives and teachings of the Reformers and inspire us to steadfastness in these days of terrible departure from the faith.

Philip Rainey