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Getting the Reformation Wrong

ReformationWrong.jpgThis is a bit of a book notice. IVP sent me an advanced photocopy of James Payton, Jr.’s, book, Getting the Reformation Wrong: Correcting Some Misunderstandings
, and I want to urge it upon readers who have any interest in the signficance of the Reformation for the contemporary Church — and the Reformation reshaped the Church in both good and bad ways.

How is the Reformation talked about in your circles? How do you perceive it? What are the biggest contributions of the Reformation? the biggest mistakes of the Reformation? Overall the right thing or not?
I want to call your attention to an even-handed, balanced, even-handed, balanced, even-handed, balanced discussion of the Reformation. 
He’s concerned with misconceptions of the Reformation that are repeated in order to bolster people’s theological or church agendas. 
He studies the context (Medieval and Renaissance), 
the various reasons folks supported Luther, 
Luther’s cantankerous personality, 
conflicts among Reformers, 
the themes of sola scriptura and sola fide, 
the Anabaptists, 
the reforms in Rome, 
the shift (and he thinks it was not a good shift) of the Protestant scholastics, 
the success (or no) of the Reformation, 
the normative value of the Reformation (where even the Reformers questioned things),
and then the triumph (soteriology) and tragedy (splintering of the Church) of the Reformation.
A genuinely excellent book we all need to read.
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James W

posted July 18, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Great stuff. I have recently joined a denomination that has its roots in Lutheran theology but’s pietism. This has got me reading some Luther and reformation history. This is fascinating stuff. I am particularly in interested in Luther’s use of paradox in his theological work and also in his theology of the cross.
I think in the circles i run in, people are interested in Luther as a voice of protest against dogmatic leadership structures as well as his humble and earthy ecclesiology. That Luther is a voice of protest against stagnant church culture is inspiring to younger leaders today. We too can think, write and dialogue about issues that are critical to the future health of our communities of faith.
I think in a related way, iconoclasm acted as a type of mechanism to help people move out of unquestioned acquiescence to authority and carve out greater personal freedom and independence.
This was good. And it still is!

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David Stark

posted July 18, 2010 at 10:04 pm

That does sound like a very interesting read. Thanks so much for bringing it to our attention.

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Travis Greene

posted July 19, 2010 at 9:26 am

Interesting. So much talk about the Reformation is just propaganda, pro or con.

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Jamie Arpin-Ricci

posted July 19, 2010 at 10:11 am

I’d be curious to hear what approach he took in respect to the Anabaptists.

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Andrew Kenny

posted July 21, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Another great book on Luther and the Reformation is Roland Baiton’s ‘Here I stand’. It is readable, scholarly and inspiring, it also covers all the main issues of the time.

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