A few Sundays ago we completed multi-week study on the history and theology of the Reformation in our college and young adult fellowship class. Below are the books I used and recommend for your own study of the Reformation.
Grace Alone: Salvation as a Gift of God by Carl Trueman – According to Trueman, the assurance of salvation “was, perhaps, the Reformations’s single most important experiential insight into the Christian faith” (19). And Christian assurance can only thrive when one rightly understand’s the role of God’s grace in the work of salvation. From the New Testament, to Augustine, through the Reformers, Trueman gives us solid biblical and historical footing for understanding and enjoying the doctrine of grace alone—the teaching that salvation, from beginning to end, “belongs to the Lord” (Jonah 2:15).
Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification by Tom Schreiner – Schreiner, with careful attention on the historical concerns of the Reformation and contemporary debates over the doctrine of justification (e.g., The New Perspective on Paul), Schreiner provides a cogent biblical, theological, and historical argument for the Reformation distinctive of Faith Alone. You will be educated, edified, and encouraged.
Christ Alone: The Uniqueness of Christ as Savior by Stephen Wellum – In this supurb volume, Wellum argues that Christ alone is the center of the Reformation distinctives and systematic theology. Actually, in terms of theology, this book is a fairly comprehensive work that covers all the major doctrinal categories related to the person and work of Christ.
God’s Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture by Matthew Barrett – This book was a joy to read from beginning to end. You can read my full review here.
God’s Glory Alone: The Majestic Heart of the Christian Faith and Life by David Vandrune -Why was soli Deo Gloria a distinctive of the Reformation? Wasn’t the Catholic Church concerned about the glory of God? Yes, they were. And the RCC didn’t come out an attack the glory of God like they did the other distinctives of faith alone and grace alone. Nevertheless, because they did reject the doctrines of grace alone and faith alone, they undermined the glory of God. Why can we say this? Because the distinctive of the glory of God is the Reformation’s stabilizing distinctive: “Soli Deo Gloria [is] the glue that holds all the solas together” (14).
The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World by Stephen J. Nichols – With clarity and brevity (qualities exemplified by the great Reformer, John Calvin), Stephen Nichols gives readers a succinct yet engaging and informative overview of the Reformation’s major figures and pressing theological issues.
Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George – Timothy George’s work was helpful in tracing the doctrinal development of the major Reformers. George devotes a full chapter a piece to Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Simons, and Tyndale, while offering an apologetic for the enduring validity of reformation theology in the final chapter.
Reformation Theology, edited by Matthew Barrett – Beginning with a couple chapters that set the Reformation’s historical context, each of the remaining chapters of this large volume address the specific doctrinal contributions of the Reformation. Sola Scriptura, the Trinity, union with Christ, the doctrine of creation, the Holy Spirit, justification by faith, eschatology, and a host of other important theological categories are considered. I was especially helped by Matthew Barrett’s chapter “The Bondage and Liberation of the Will,” and Korey D. Maas’s “Justification by Faith Alone.”
Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Ronald H. Bainton – This classic biography of Martin Luther is essential for any study of the Reformation. Detailed, attentive to Luther’s historical and religious setting, and careful to portray the Reformer in all his humanity—the good, the bad, and the ugly—Bainton’s book is a must-read.
Why the Reformation Still Matters by Michael Reeves and Tim Chester – As an introduction to the history and theology of the Reformation, this book was simply excellent. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. You can read my review here.
9 Marks Journal: The Reformation and Your Church – Although not a book, the short articles in this journal helped me get my historical bearings and determine what was most important in my study and teaching.