The Reformation was a time of tremendous upheaval, renewal, and vitality in the life of the church. The challenge to maintain and develop faithful Christian belief and practice in the midst of great disruption was reflected in the theology of the sixteenth century.
In this volume, which serves as a companion to IVP Academic’s Reformation Commentary on Scripture, theologian and church historian Gerald L. Bray immerses readers in the world of Reformation theology. He introduces the range of theological debates as Catholics and Protestants from a diversity of traditions—Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, and Anabaptist—disputed the essentials of the faith, from the authority of Scripture and the nature of salvation to the definition of the church, the efficacy of the sacraments, and the place of good works in the Christian life.
Readers will find that understanding how the Reformers engaged in the theological discipline can aid us in doing theology today.
“Medieval society was divided into three main groups, or estates—those who prayed (clergy), those who fought (aristocracy), and those who worked (commoners). In a world where everyone (except Jews and a few Muslims) was baptized, the word Christian had largely lost its original meaning.” (Pages 13–14)
“Preaching became and remained the single most important activity of the Protestant clergy, and the Reformers tried to ensure that ministers were properly trained in the principles of the gospel and authorized to convey that message in and through the structures of the church.” (Page 22)
“Second, students were exposed to the Bible from an early age, much of which they learned by heart (especially the Psalms).” (Page 39)
“The adoption of covenant theology as an interpretive principle had the additional effect of shifting the conceptual basis of theology away from philosophical concerns to legal and juridical ones. Instead of debating what God is in himself and how his uncreated nature contrasts with what he has created, covenant theologians shifted their attention to what God has done for his people, and that, after all, is the main theme of the Bible. What Christ did for our redemption became more significant than what he was (fully God and fully man), although his incarnation remained the necessary precondition for his atoning work.” (Page 123)
“What the sacraments promised the faithful penitent was access to the saving power of God. Sins were canceled not merely in theory but in practice, as divine grace was applied on a regular basis to eliminating the transgressions of the moment. By experiencing the forgiveness of God in this way, a believer could rest assured that he would not be held accountable for the sins that he had confessed and done penance for.” (Page 148)
Here is an excellent book by a master historian, a study that places the Reformation and its theology in the context of the church and culture in which it happened. A fine companion to the Reformation Commentary on Scripture.
—Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University, general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture
Once again Gerald Bray has managed to combine his profound knowledge and his great writing style in a book that not only demonstrates that theology was the core matter of the Reformation but also what that theology was, where it came from, and how it functioned. This book is a wonderful help to understand the Reformers and their message and to see the relevance of Reformation theology.
—Herman Selderhuis, president of the Theological University Apeldoorn, director of Refo500
The list of useful books produced by Gerald Bray just keeps growing. In this book, written in Dr. Bray’s characteristically accessible style, we are given an excellent introduction to the world of the Reformers and their key theological contributions. More than that, he shows how those contributions still affect us, not only through the Reformers’ own writing but also through the confessions of the Reformation churches. What is remarkable is the breadth of understanding of the Reformation world that is evident throughout the book and the evenhanded treatment it provides of the theology of each branch of the Reformation. Here is a reliable introduction that is enjoyable to read. Those with a detailed knowledge of the subject will appreciate how well it has all been brought together, though there is no doubt room for disagreement on one or two particulars. Those who are just beginning to discover the riches of the Reformation will be thankful for such a helpful guide. Here is a challenge to do theology with the Reformers, for we cannot ignore their effect on our own grasp of the biblical gospel. Dr. Bray’s book is a fine example of how to do just that.
—Mark D. Thompson, principal, Moore Theological College
In the Logos edition, this valuable volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English Bible translations, and important terms link to a wealth of other resources in your digital library, including tools for original languages, dictionaries, encyclopedias, commentaries, and theology texts. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.