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The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Reformation and Protestantism Paperback – February 1, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: The Complete Idiot's Guide
  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Alpha; 1st edition (February 20, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0028642708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028642703
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Bach on February 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be an engaging and interesting overview of events that constitute the roots of today's protestant "church". It provided me with a framework from which much "church" history can be understood. It includes Apostle Paul, papal history, Anabaptists and relationships between protestant denominations. Although lightweight in many areas, it covers a wide range of church history, which makes it very readable. Many topics may not go into as much depth as you like but there is enough to identify interest. This lack of depth is what makes the book so readable, never becoming bogged down in uninteresting topics, it keeps moving while providing stepping stones for additional reading.
What I did not like about the book is its tendency to deviate from a mostly chronological presentation. I found this was particularly annoying in the first several chapters. Later, I got use to it. There are "Protestant Pearls" (quotes) thrown throughout the book. Literally, they seem to have been thrown, having no relationship to the text. I think they should have been presented in the context of the relevant text. I would liken it to getting blips within a documentary movie have no bearing on the current scene. I found them distracting, breaking the flow so to speak. I adjusted by reading the "pearls" separately or when reviewing previously read text.
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Format: Paperback
If you liked Complete Idiot's Guide to The Bible, then you'll like this one. I've known Jim Bell from his well-known Christian books, so I'm glad to see the Idiot's people have picked up one of the best for their religion books. He really breaks down what Protestants believe and why in an easy to understand way that doesn't make you feel stupid. I'm going to use this in my Bible class over the summer.
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Format: Paperback
Overall, this book provides an excellent introduction to the history of Christianity in general and the Protestant Reformation in particular. The first 20 chapters that cover the period from the dawn of Christiantiy through 19-th century Europe are written extraordinarily well. I thorougly enjoyed reading this portion of the book. Unfortunately, the style and quality of the book change abruptly beginning with Chapter 21 through to the end - and the change is definitely for the worse. That portion of the book covers the impact of the Protestant Reformation on North America. Since there are two authors, it appears to me that the work was divvied up between them, with one of them writing the bulk of the book and the other writing the last few chapters. Unfortunately, the editor has done a very poor job of ensuring a consistent style and quality throughout. In summary: I highly recommend the first 20 chapters, but if you are particularly interested in reading about the impact of Protestantism on America, don't be surprised if you are disappointed.
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Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book which explains the development of Christianity from the death of Jesus, right up to the present time. I expected to mainly find Martin Luther expounded upon, but have learned from this book that he was only one of many many reformers. An excellent source of information , written with a touch of humor and much spiritual insight and depth of explaination.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When you buy one of these "Complete Idiot's Guide to...," you might expect an informed, objective historical overview and not a biased, "truth"-based treatment of the historical factors contributing to the subject at hand. But, this work by James S. Bell, Jr, a writer of "Christian" based treatments of popular literature and the Bible published by the Moody Press along with lesser known Tracy Macon Sumner is just that.

As a history, it's a disaster. It's full of factual errors, misquotations and anecdotal evidence. It labels anything not in line with the authors' current Protestant fundamentalist party line as being "erroneous" or--even worse--"heretical!" It would take a longer amount of space and time to discuss all the egregious mistakes in this little volume but just consider these:

Why are the beliefs of the Gnostics, the Montanists and Arians in "error," rather than alternative interpretations of the message of Christ?
Why is the apocryphal vision of Constantine given as fact?
Why is it stated again and again that the Papacy controlled the early empires when the sovereigns owned all the land except for the 10% ceded to God.
Why is there no mention of the outright competition between the secular and religious political institutions for economic control and hegemony?

Protestants who want a jolly fictive past of the road to justifying their convictions will indeed find this collection of anecdotes a fun read. It's got all the time-told stories and misinformation that can be found in any subjective takes on history written by authors wanting to present their points of view as fact.

However, for the serious student wanting to see the trace and record of the Protestant reformation and the viewpoints of the those reformers that departed from the early Christian church, this book must be viewed in the light of the bias and disposition of its fundamentalist authors.
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I heartily dislike the title but the information between the book's covers is very helpful in understanding the big picture of the Reformation. It's a good reference book and one I highly recommend.
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