Teaching the Protestant Reformation

October 31, 2017 is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Whether or not one identifies as a Protestant, the Reformation was still a significant event in history that all should remember. 

Catholics may have a more negative view of the Reformation, but they cannot deny its effects on Christendom and Western history. Though they may think Martin Luther went too far, Catholics still recognize that the Reformers were in part responding to actual corruption within the Western church. Of course, the Roman Catholic Church responded to Protestantism with its own "Counter-Reformation" beginning with the Council of Trent (1545-1563). 

Protestants, on the other hand, ought to celebrate the Reformation—as it was a call for the church to return to the Scriptures and the gospel proclaimed therein. Men like Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Calvin sparked a revival that swept throughout Europe. 

Sadly though, few Protestants today will celebrate the Reformation. This is because many Protestants are ignorant of both the history of the Reformation and the Scriptures to which the Reformers pointed. Much of modern Protestantism has become detached from historical Christianity and little resembles the churches of the Reformers. 

Remembering the Reformation

In other words, many Protestants have forgotten the Reformation and its teachings. This is why we must teach the history of the Protestant Reformation. 

Pastors should teach it to their congregations. Teachers should teach it to their students. And parents should teach it to their children. 

I therefore want to recommend some resources to help you learn about the Reformation for yourself and teach it to others. I have elsewhere recommended resources for studying the entirety of church history, but the following are works specific to the Reformation. 

The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation by Michael Reeves. This is an excellent introductory work on the Reformation. It's only 200 pages and fairly cheap. If you don't have this book, get it.



The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World by Stephen Nichols is another good short introduction on the Reformation. This book comes in at only 160 pages. 



Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton. While there are other important Reformers to study, Martin Luther is worthy of special attention. Every Christian should read a biography of Luther—and this one is a classic. It's a few hundred pages, but it's an easy read. 


Martin Luther: A Life by Martin Marty. If you are looking for a shorter biography, this one is under 200 pages. It is also more recent than Bainton's work, having been published in 2004. If you want to read Luther's works, check out his Bondage of the Will and Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings


Luther (DVD). This is a 2004 movie on the life of Martin Luther. It is quite accurate historically, and it is also well done. Definitely worth a watch. Also available on Blue-ray



If you want more advanced materials, there is Diarmaid MacCulloch's 800+ page The Reformation: A History and Timothy George's Theology of the Reformers. There are many other good works on the Reformation, but I tried to limit the recommendations. However, please feel free to share your favorites in the comments below!