This October 31 st will be 500 years since God gave His church “the Reformation”. The study of the Reformation is very dear to my heart and therefore, I chose to read Stephen Nichols book titled “The Reformation” – about a monk and a mallet who changed the world.
If you are a new believer and only have heard about the Reformation in passing, this book is a great starting point to give you an overall sweep of the blessed events. Even if you know a fair bit about the Reformation, I think the author’s way of making history come alive will be a blessing to you as well. This book is written in a way that turns your mind and heart God- ward in gratitude for The Reformation.
The book has a compelling opening chapter that gives us various reasons why we should always remember the reformation and why it matters a lot to us even today. God has wanted Israel to leave various markers so that they could look at certain things or celebrate certain feasts and never forget His great deeds. Similarly, in the New Testament Christ wanted us to always remember His sacrifice through the ordinance of communion. The
Reformation was all about returning to the Scriptures and holding forth the true Gospel of grace and hence, we do well to remember it.
The book does not center on various events but rather on the people God raised up, namely, Luther in Germany, Zwingli in the Swiss region, the Anglicans and Puritans in Britain etc. There is also a chapter about the Ana Baptists who believed in adult baptism. I was surprised to read how the author had a good deal of respect for these often-criticized people. You will be amazed how God brought about various circumstances in the right time,
so that His cause would progress. For example, the invention of printing press, because of which Luther’s 95 theses and other writings spread like wildfire. The city of Geneva, having rejected Catholicism, found godly and pastoral leadership through the French theologian,John Calvin just when the time was ripe.
The Gospel did spread like a wild fire, yet not without sacrifice. So many people had to pay with their lives. Many lost their possessions, health and popularity among other things. Some like Calvin were rejected and banished. Knox was sent as a galley slave on a ship. Luther lived in constant danger and did not originally want to get married because of this reason. The Puritans had to travel the dangerous seas many times so they could have the freedom to worship God and practice their faith in a pure way. It must have been extremely tough to move and resettle their entire families to other lands. Many had to do this every time an new King or Queen came to power and enforced edicts on how the country should worship.
There are various historical inserts into most chapters to give a better understanding to the reader. None of the chapters or inserts are too long and boring. You will be edified, humored, even shocked as you see the human and erring side of these great men and women. I had a smile on my face as I discovered that chapter 7 is called, “Men in Black” and
chapter 8 is called, “Women in Black too”. Towards the end of the book, you will find a few helpful quotations from Luther’s and Calvin’s writings and some prayers too. I, personally, was happy to find a chapter, dedicated to the women of the Reformation.
There are some really inspiring stories and quotations of how both ordinary women and women of nobility embraced the truth for themselves and stood for the truth.In a world, both in the east and the west, it is becoming increasingly costly to stand for the truth of the Gospel and live with Biblical convictions. This book reminds us that there have
been so many gone ahead of us, who have finished their race by His grace. Sola Deo Gloria.