Sunday, July 18, 2010

Review of The Reformation of the Church by Iain Murray

Author: ed. Iain Murray

Pages: 416 pages

Publisher: Banner of Truth

Price: 17.00/used ~3.00

Genre: Church History/Biography

Quick Summary:

The subtitle of this work tells the story: A collection of Reformed and Puritan documents on Church Issues. The Reformation had an impact on more than just the doctrine of justification. The implications of the Reformation where felt all throughout Christendom on matters of church issues as well. During the 16th and 17th century ecclesiology was a hot-button issue. It was, in part, what divided Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and others. It was, in part, what drove the Puritans. Iain Murray hopes in this volume to recover some of these issues and teach lessons for the church today.

What I Liked:

Iain Murray is probably my favorite biographer/historian. He writes in a compelling fashion that makes you feel as if you are there with the people in the story and are forced to make some of the decisions that they are forced to make. It may seem foolish that people would go to prison over preaching attire but to many of these Reformers the gospel was at stake in manners of ecclesiology. That which Murray has compiled helped me realize a side to the Reformation that I have never considered before.

Murray’s notes are helpful and he also draws from sources that most people are unfamiliar with. This book is a great learning experience, especially for a Southern Baptist like myself.

What I Disliked:

I would love to see an updated version of this. Not much has changed since its first publication in 1965. I also wonder if it would also be possible to have a “reader’s digest version” of this great work. I love to read and am decently trained in reading literature from this time period, yet it was often difficult for me to wade through. There is so much great information in this book and lots to consider but I think it gets lost in the wordiness. There is, sadly, a reason why few people have heard of this work by such a great like Iain Murray.

Should You Buy It?

If you like history, you like Reformation, and you are fairly experienced in reading the Puritans then you will enjoy this book. You can get it used for around 3.00 at Amazon . It’s worth a shot. Just reading the section on church unity would be worth the 3 bucks. It caused me to think deeply on issues I’ve never thought about. But if you are not accustomed to reading literature from this time period this is probably not the place to start. There are other great books on ecclesiology (check out anything by 9Marks) that sum up some of these issues without the 17th century wording.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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