‘I don’t know of a better brief introduction to the Reformation and its continuing importance today,’ says Vaughan Roberts, Lausanne plenary speaker and Rector of St Ebbe’s Church, Oxford. He is referring to Lausanne’s new book, The Reformation: What You Need to Know and Why.
There are many books on the Reformation. Why add to them? This one is different, it’s pithy, and it’s all contained in 100 pages. I venture to say you will discover surprises.
The Reformation would change everything—culture, commerce, and learning. This is why it has entered people’s general knowledge, far beyond the reach of the church.
The church in medieval times had sunk very low. It was the Reformation martyrs who provided a way for us to receive the precious and eternal gospel intact. What courage the martyrs showed! Hundreds were burned at the stake, and many more died in prison. Then the truth of Christ finally shone through the darkness.
The Reformation did not really ‘begin’ in 1517, as we hear many say. The Englishman John Wycliffe, born nearly 200 years earlier, is known as its ‘Morning star’, and the first burning of a so-called ‘heretik’, for declaring the gospel, took place in Scotland in 1407.
With this context in mind, you might ask, ‘What will I get from this book?’
Michael Reeves gives us a fast-paced storyline of what happened in Europe; and this is accompanied by a timeline for easy reference. Then John Stott (in a previously unpublished piece) reflects on the part we must play in contending for apostolic truth in our own times.
You will also find the full text of Luther’s 95 Theses, plus an appendix by Alan Purser, looking at Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17. This passage has been widely misunderstood, and often mis-preached. The book closes with questions for a study group or book club.
Julia E M Cameron (MA, Aberdeen University) has led Communications and Publishing endeavours for OMF International, IFES, and the Third Lausanne Congress. She is an author and editor, and has written for the UK broadsheets and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Julia has served since 2011 as Director of Publishing and Senior Editor for the Lausanne Movement. She lives in Oxford.