A Review of Reformation Sketches: Insights into Luther, Calvin, and the Confessions
The Reformation era spanned countries, personages, and issues. The author provides insights into several of the leading men and key issues of this era within the context of the culture and the church.
While some pages are devoted to Melancthon and Peter Martyr Vermigli, the bulk of the focus is on Luther and Calvin. Aspects of their lives and labors are covered in interesting, well-written chapters.
Dr. Godfrey examines Luther’s view on the relationship of law and gospel and his view of the family. Further, he examines why the 95 Theses posted on the Wittenberg church door made such an impact far beyond that little church. These Theses were preceded by the largely forgotten 97 Theses written in September of 1517. They reveal Augustine’s strong influence on Luther’s theology.
Calvin is discussed in the book’s second section. For several chapters the author addresses Calvin’s views on maintaining the unity and purity of the church and how he dealt with attacks on justification and predestination. An informative chapter on Calvin’s work as a counselor correctly grasps his desire that Christians maintain daily faithfulness in this fallen world while looking to the victory Christ has won for them.
Other chapters turn the reader’s attention to the embattled Huguenots in France, the formation of the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort. A concluding chapter examines the relevance of the historic confessions for the contemporary church.
The diverse topics should make this volume of interest to a wide spectrum of Christians. Dr. Godfrey is a good communicator. In these pages one gains a better understanding of the historical context of the Reformation and some of the struggles that occurred between Reformers, as well as their struggles against opponents of the Reformation. The author clearly shows that Luther believed both law and gospel are to be preached while emphasizing the grace of God. He also shows that Calvin’s emphasis was on more than predestination. Additionally, Dr. Godfrey provides timely Christian application throughout the book. His writing proves the continuing relevance of the Reformation for today and also serves as a reminder that Christians need to continually reform their lives by God’s grace in terms of scripture.
Topics: Reformed Thought, Theology