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The Reformers & the Theology of the Reformation (Students Reformed Theological Library) Hardcover – December 1, 1979
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I expected to see the biography, the account of their conversion, the highlights and lowlights of the ministry of the reformers as well as the doctrines they taught and the controversies they faced, but I am disappointed because Cunningham seems to be lacking in these details or haphazardly covering them. Though he does a good job in defending the sacraments as sign and seal, not sign only as Zwinglie taught or implicitly against Luther's co-substantiation doctrine, he doesn't do enough to show the Scriptural basis of infant-baptism. All he does is to keep mentioning that "infant baptism is fully warranted in Scripture" (p.247) without showing which passages and explaining why they teach infant-baptism. Cunningham does an average job in describing the characters of the reformers, but again, he does this haphazardly because he intermingles it with their doctrines and controversies without a clear organization, causing a confusion to the readers. There is something commendable, however, that Cunningham does in that where appropriate, he does not attempt to defend the reformers when it is clear that they made a mistake or if there is anything uncharitable in their character. For example, though commending Luther for his "deep piety, of his thorough devotedness to God's services, of his habitual walking with God, and living by faith in the promises of his Word,"(p.64), he is known for "naturally somewhat prone to indulge in exaggerated and paradoxial statements, to press points too far, and to express them in unnecessarily strong and repulsive terms" (p.64). Further, there is also a mention of Luther's "impetuosity of his temperament, leading often to the use of exaggerated and intemperate language," as well as "great obstinacy to erroneous opinions, shutting his understanding against everything that could be brought forward in opposition to them" (p.65).
My impression is the purpose of this text, by the inclusion of an inordinate amount of correspondence by English-speaking theologians and the discussion of it, is to defend the reformers and their doctrines challenged in these letters. I have to say this book is not for me, but may be appropriate for graduate or doctorate seminary students and scholars specializing in church history.