My Favorite Introduction to the Reformation (Timothy Raymond)
Happy Reformation week! Since we’re commending books on the Reformation, I thought I’d point our readers to my favorite introduction. Kirsten Birkett’s overview, The Essence of the Reformation is concise, compelling, scholarly, evangelical, enjoyable, and a breeze to read. It really deserves to be better-known and more widely-used. Perhaps the best part is that the book includes extended excerpts from classic works by Luther (on Christian freedom), Calvin (on prayer), and Crammer (on justification sola fide). This is a great one to use with laymen or those looking for the bird’s eye view of the Reformation. Take a look at the preface, the table of contents, all of part 1, and selections from the classics. Also, here are a couple recommendations from guys you may have heard of:
“I do not know any book that more succinctly gets across, in readable prose, what the Reformation was about. This new edition combines Birkett’s superb text with some judiciously selected primary documents. This is a book to distribute widely among lay leaders and other Christians who want to be informed of the heritage of the gospel that has come down to us.”
—D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
“The reissue of Kirsten Birkett’s introduction to the Reformation is to be welcomed. Kirsten is one of the most thoughtful voices in contemporary Anglican evangelical theology, and has written with enviable grace, lucidity and insight, on a variety of cultural, theological, and historical issues. Here, she guides the reader through the main events of the sixteenth century, demonstrating sensitivity to social, political and, above all, theological factors. The addition of primary texts by Luther, Calvin, and Cranmer make this book an excellent resource for the student and the interested layperson alike. Highly recommended.”
—Carl Trueman, Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary
I’d encourage you to get a hold of a copy of The Essence of the Reformation today!
Timothy Raymond is an editor for Credo Magazine and has been the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Indiana since April 2006. He received his MDiv from the Baptist Bible Seminary of Pennsylvania in 2004 and has pursued further education through the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation.