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The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World Paperback – February 14, 2007
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"Dr. Nichols has done it again! He's written a history book that will teach you without boring you to death. In fact, this book is fun! But more than that, this is a book that will cause you to rejoice in the Reformation and renew your commitment to the truths of the Reformation for our time. Read it! You'll be glad you did."
—Steve Brown, Host, Key Life Radio Program; author, Three Free Sins: God Isn't Mad At You
"Beyond merely summarizing Reformation history and teaching, Nichols draws us into the life and times of this era-as if the issues that inflamed an era still mattered. And they do. Read this book and you'll be glad that the Reformation isn't over."
—Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; author, Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God's Story
"Professor Stephen Nichols is already well-known for his remarkable ability to make history live and sing. This new work is no exception and will simply enhance his well-deserved reputation. It is a scintillating helicopter tour of the amazing men-and wonderful women-of the Reformation. Here conviction joins with courage, holiness with humor, in a wonderful medley of Christian heroes and heroines."
—Sinclair B. Ferguson, Professor of Systematic Theology, Redeemer Seminary, Dallas, Texas
About the Author
Stephen J. Nichols (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) serves as the president of Reformation Bible College and chief academic officer of Ligonier Ministries. He is an editor of the Theologians on the Christian Life series and also hosts the weekly podcast 5 Minutes in Church History.
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Nichols sets this up for an introduction for the differing reformations that happened all over the globe after the way that was paved by Wycliffe and Hus and then finally with the most powerful Martin Luther.
You can actually get a great understanding of where the book will lead you by seeing the different chapter titles.
1. Five Hundred Years Old and Still Going Strong: Why the Reformation Matters Today
2. A Monk and a Mallet: Martin Luther and the German Reformation
3. Some Middle-Aged Men and a Sausage Supper: Ulrich Zwingli and the Swiss Reformation
4. The Not-So-Radical Radical Reformers: The Anabaptists and the Reformation
5. An Overnight Stay in Geneva: John Calvin and the Swiss Reformation
6. A King and a Divorce: The Anglicans and the British Reformation
7. Men in Black: The Puritans and the British Reformation
8. Women in Black Too: The Untold Story of Women and the Reformation
Appendix: In Their Own Words: Selections from Documents of the Reformation
So, as you can see Nichols tries to cover a lot of ground in one little book, as the book, including the appendix is only 150 pages. It is very short in a lot of areas but it has to be so that the reader that is not accustomed to the Reformation can get their pallet wet enough to want to read other works that get more detailed each of these particular reformation periods.
The one thing that was stated at the first of the book that I was excited to see more about, that I found lacking, came when Nichols said we need to "humanize" the people of history. Meaning, we need to show who they were and not merely what they did. I felt as though Nichols did a pretty good job in this with Luther, but felt that this dropped off in the future chapters with the others. This, by no means, makes this book a disappointment and would definitely recommend it to others for an introduction to who and what went before us.
Nichols does make this history very readable and interesting to read without merely spitting out facts, which is happening in another book I am reading on the same subject. The book flows very well and makes you want to learn more about the reformers, instead of seeing history as a dry and dead subject.
I look forward to reading more books by Nichols and would defnitely recommend this to any who need an introduction to the Reformation from Wycliffe to the Puritans.
Each chapter gives insight into a specific time period and geographical location of the Reformation. Starting with Luther in Germany, Nichols moves to Zwingli/Calvin/Anabaptists and the Swiss Reformation, and then to the Anglicans/Puritans and the British Reformation. Within each chapter, there are spotlights with more information on certain people or events that stand prominently in church history. Though these spotlights can be somewhat distracting when reading straight through the book, they are helpful nonetheless.
The part of the book that I appreciated the most was Nichols' focus on the women of the Reformation, found in the last chapter of the book. I felt this chapter shed new light on the progress of Christianity through history, breaking away from the stereotypical patriarchal image that most Americans gather about the Reformation. As the Reformers championed the institution of marriage and family, there was a need to develop a theology of marriage. What does a minister's family look like? was one of the questions that ran through the minds of the Reformers. But as Nichols writes, "They had formidable wives to help them figure it out." Women like Katherina von Bora (Martin Luther's wife) and Lady Jane Grey (who was persecuted Bloody Mary) were pillars and defenders of correct theology and faithful women in the life of the church. One of the book's strongest points, Nichols does a great job of capturing the loyalty of strong-minded women during the chaos of the Reformation.
To begin to understand the sacrifices, martyrdoms, and persecutions that our Christian brothers and sisters had to go through in order to stay faithful to God's word is humbling at the very least. In a world where most American Christians live comfortably without demand to be decisive about our theology, this book made me wonder whether I would have been so loyal to such doctrines, which therefore makes me examine my convictions more thoroughly. If our goal as Christians is to stand firm upon the truth of God's word, then it is only fitting to be encouraged by those who sacrificed for the truth in centuries past. Though a short and concise book, The Reformation will give you a clear picture of the men and women who did just that.