I was inspired to read more church history books after reading "Church History in Plain Language" some time ago, and this book seemed to be a good follow-up for me to read. As a Protestant, Reformation period is the most exciting era of church history for me, and I had this book for quite a while.
Now I have finished reading this not-so-thick book (less than 200 pages), I have less admiration for these reformers, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Cranmer, and Knox. Yes, less, not more. They were great men, convicted by great truths of the Gospel, whose works changed the world and their legacy is still felt and experienced in most parts of the world to this day. But the author did well in showing the very human side of these reformers, although I believe he portrayed them only fairly and as accurately as possible. This author also honestly explained the political nature of reformation very well.
Hence, these men, as great as they were, were men, naturally. And so my admiration grew smaller, and my appreciation and reverence towards the God who worked so powerfully through these men, and in fact, through the whole affairs of reformation, both in the trials and victories, has increased.
So, this book had a good effect on me, I'd say.
The author's conclusive paragraphs were a real challenge. It is long-ish to post in one go, so I will be posting up one at a time in coming days.
Here's the first paragraph.
As we have just seen, Protestants often criticise the Catholic 'Cult of Saints'. But how often do we unwittingly do something similar? Many Protestant traditions including Presbyterians of most hues, look back in awe and gratitude to Calvin. There are churches named Lutheran to this day. Other denominations are no different, whether it is the Wesley brothers, Smyth and Helys, Azusa Street or whatever your past hero's name or location might be. We all too easily tend to look at Scripture through the prism of their teaching rather than, as the Reformers did, looking directly to scripture itself, as the doctrine of sola scriptura surely teaches. It would be too ironic if, by quoting, say, Calvin or Luther slavishly, we treat them as being infallible! If we teach that the Pope is not infallible, then neither is any other church leader, however revered. (italics original)
- p. 187 Five Leading Reformers
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