Review of Reeves and Chester: Why the Reformation still matters

On the 31st October 1517, a German monk called Martin Luther posted a document on the doors of the Castle church in Wittenberg. His document contained 95 statements designed to invite debate about some religious matters to do with the Catholic Church. His actions were entirely normal- much like posting a blog today with some provocative questions about a live issue. But this time, the questions Luther raised kick started a furious debate that ultimately led to the Reformation. And whilst there were many different strands that contributed to the Reformation, Luther’s actions have long been reckoned to be a major contributor to the whole Reformation.

That was 500 years ago, and the effects of Luther’s actions changed the shape of religion in Europe, and led to a sea change in England and Scotland too. But is this just dusty history? And why are so many people urging us to take stock of this historical event from a long time ago now?

This is the question that Mike Reeves and Tim Chester attempt to answer in their book “Why the Reformation still matters”. The book seeks to explain the events of 500 years ago, but also show how those events are just as important today. And the reason is that the Reformation was all about the salvation of human beings- in other words our eternal destiny. Reeves and Chester put it this way in their introduction on page 15: “But consider what was at stake. At its heart the Reformation was a dispute about how we know God and how we can be right with him. At stake was our eternal future, a choice between heaven and hell. And it still is.”

For a book tackling events 500 years old, we might assume it is far removed from us and alien to life in Preston in 2017. Far from it. The authors take 11 key truths from the Reformation and show how they apply today. Questions like “How can we be saved?”, “how does God speak to us?”, “what difference does God make on Monday mornings?”. Reeves and Chester show in each chapter how these eleven truths were rediscovered in the 16th century, and then show how they apply to us. The genius of the book is that you go away from reading it both knowing more about the history of the Reformation, but more importantly, being rooted and established in the faith, and overflowing with thankfulness to our God who has saved us.

The book is readable and engaging, and warms the heart. It is ideal for those who want to know more about what happened all those years ago. But it will also give great to joy to any believer keen to be reminded how wonderful it is to be a Christian, and why the truth of the faith needs fighting for today. It is highly recommended!

Nathan Buttery