Michael Reeves & Tim Chester, Why the Reformation Still Matters – Ivp, 2016

Mike Reeves and Tim Chester have produced a sharp, relevant historico-theological analysis of key Reformation truths and shown their continuing relevance today. And they have done so in fewer than 200 pages. This is not a simple or particularly easy read, but neither is it full of difficult theological jargon. The authors have succeeded in explaining fairly complex points of theology clearly and concisely. This is a great achievement. You will have to think about what they write in order to understand it, but it is well worth the work. Your Christian life will be enriched and you will grow in assurance of salvation, love for Christ and confidence in his promises.

The full list of subjects covered in the book is: justification, Scripture, sin, grace, the theology of the cross, union with Christ, the Holy Spirit, sacraments, the church, everyday life and joy and glory. As I read (being a reviewer), I tried to think of important aspects of Reformation teaching which had been neglected. I thought of two or three, but as I read on found that they had indeed been covered. The authors provide real clarity about the principal issues which the Reformers sought to address.

Nor is the book a mere re-hash of common evangelical truths in Reformation dress. The authors introduce us to the issues as actually debated between the Reformers and their opponents. They demonstrate, for example, how differently grace was understood by the Reformers as compared with the teaching of the Roman Catholic church. They show how central union with Christ was to Reformation thought and how the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is rooted in it. They compare the rather weak doctrine of sin then prevalent with the strong understanding of it which the Reformers brought. In all these areas and more, the reader will find that the authors’ historical and biblical exposition benefits mind and heart tremendously.

Throughout, the authors show how the subjects that they address continue to be relevant today. I could have wished for a little more on this subject, particularly as that is the import of the book’s title. However, the careful reader can be left in no doubt by the end of the book as to the importance today of the ‘great truths rediscovered at the Reformation’ (as the LTS founding documents put it). I enjoyed and benefited from this book (and I find any book which uses the word ‘chucklesome’ in the same sentence as ‘Tom Wright’ fairly irresistible – p. 100) and I recommend it heartily.