The One Must-Read Book for Reformation 500

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I was recently asked about the one book I would recommend for churchgoers to learn about the history and ongoing relevance of the Reformation. As the actual 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation approaches in October, many churches and pastors may be interested in recommending such a book. So I approached several experts for their answers.

Scott Manetsch, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School: Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand:  A Life of Martin Luther (Abingdon, 1950). “This classic biography of Martin Luther remains unsurpassed as the best popular introduction to late medieval religion and the complex mental and religious world of the great German reformer.”

John D. Wilsey, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: Stephen J. Nichols’s The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World (Crossway, 2007). “This is an accessible read for folks who have a basic knowledge of the timeline and big names of the Reformation, but struggle to see how it remains pertinent 500 years later. Nichols’s writing style is absorbing and persuasive in this helpful read, and the book is a good starter for anyone interested in going further in Reformation history.”

Beth Allison Barr, Baylor University: Peter Marshall, The Reformation: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2009) “at $6, this provides a solid historical overview that is also easy to read”; Lucy Wooding, Henry VIII 2d ed. (Routledge, 2015), slightly more expensive but “a solid overview of the man who, in many ways, has come to epitomize the English Reformation”; and Roland Bainton, Women of the Reformation in France and England (Fortress, 1973), “an introduction to notable figures such as Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I, as well as less well known folk such as Charlotte de Bourbon and Catherine Parr.”

Tal Howard, Valparaiso University: “For Luther’s life, I would recommend Roland Bainton’s old classic Here I Stand. For Reformation theology, I would recommend Alastair McGrath’s introduction to Reformation thought. And for Protestantism in general. I would recommend McGrath’s Christianity’s Dangerous Idea.”

Tell us in the comments what book you would recommend!

See also Justin Taylor’s post “The Best One-Volume Book on the Reformation?

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