by William A. dePrater III
Wipf & Stock, Eugene, Ore. 188 pages
This book on the emergence of the Protestant Reformation might well serve adult classes or study groups in local congregations by providing an overview of the Reformation in its historical and social context. The scope of the study is broad — including precursors to the Reformation, while also outlining the issues and events as they unfolded in Britain, the Netherlands and France, as well as Germany and the Swiss cantons. Attention is paid to the second generation, extending into the 17th century and the Synod of Dort and the Westminster Assembly. The familiar theological issues of the Reformation are described simply, without requiring much background to get the main points. The author does not romanticize the era of reform, but pays attention to aspects of it that appear less than attractive in retrospect, citing, for example, Luther’s urging of Christians to burn down synagogues.
The author includes a short chapter on the Catholic Reformation then concludes with an assessment of the Reformation for Protestants today. The author sees clearly that there is much in contemporary Protestantism that needs to be critiqued and makes some suggestions of his own. The book includes a list and description of Reformation confessions, timeline of events, bibliography and index.
RONALD P. BYARS is professor emeritus of preaching and worship at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia.