Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Stake burnings, door nailings, river drownings & how Protestantism got its start (Brief review)

Have you ever wanted to take a tour around Europe, visiting the Wittenberg Church where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door? Seeing the locations on the Limmat River where Christians drowned Anabaptists over doctrinal differences? Standing on the site where the Catholic Church burned John Hus at the stake for heresy?

But, because of lack of funds, fear of terrorism bringing down your plane, or other unspoken reasons, you’ve never been able to do it?

Well, now you can, sort of , and from the comfort and relative safety of your own home.

Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation (Baker) by Erwin W. Lutzer is, essentially, a 200 page illustrated narrative offering a tour through the Holy Roman Empire back in the day of the rise of Protestantism.

While the book centers on Martin Luther and his escapades, plenty of pre- and post-Luther context is included, offering a good in-a-nutshell survey of the rocky and tumultuous times surrounding the break from Rome’s (aka Catholic Church) grip on Christian faith and practice through the rise of Calvinsim.

Yes, there will be a case made in the book in favor of modern Reformed theology. Which should neither be surprising nor -- and most importantly for those of us Arminian-leaning folks -- annoying. It’s easy to just skip over these parts.

Overall, this is a great little book. It’s well written, beautifully designed, and chockfull of illustrations and photos. It has a subtle gift-book-like feel to it yet the content is solid and informative.

And it really is like taking a tour.

Lutzer, who has led tours through the region, opens the book writing, “Thank you for joining me on this important journey. We’ll visit Wittenberg, Worms, Erfurt, Geneva, and Zurich. We’ll walk through cathedrals, listen to a sermon in a town square, and meet some people whose intellect and courage shook the world. We’ll listen to a story of courage and cowardice, of betrayal and faith. When we are finished, we’ll understand ourselves -- and our society -- much better. Best of all, new appreciation for the one message that can actually change the world will burn within us.”

From Albert of Brandenburg to Zwingli of Zurich, Lutzer offers a cogent sweeping presentation that will give anyone who self-identifies as a Protestant an excellent grounding in the founding of their faith.


NOTE: To comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255): I selected these books to review and received them free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Does this sound like a book you would be interested in reading? Why or why not? What’s the best book you’ve ever encountered dealing with Christian history? Do you think it’s important for Christians to understand how the church has changed since the times of Jesus and the Disciples? Why or why not? Sound off in the comments!

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