Erwin Lutzer, former pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, has written an excellent overview dealing with the principle personalities and events surrounding the Protestant Reformation.  The book is written with the layman in mind, with simple language and an abundance of full-color pictures and maps.  In a short 200 pages, everything the average person would want to know about the Reformation is covered, beginning with the pre-Reformation reformers John Wycliffe and John Hus.

Martin Luther draws most of the attention with 10 of the 17 chapters devoted to him.  While his contribution to the Reformation is given much space, not everything Lutzer says about Luther is positive.  Luther’s passion for truth is evident, but his stubbornness, anger, unnecessary battles and hatred for the Jews is detailed as well.  Huldrych Zwingli receives a chapter, as do the Anabaptists, while John Calvin gets two.  The closing chapter, “Is the Reformation Over?”, is a jewel as Lutzer clearly, and convincingly, demonstrates that despite compromises by many leading evangelicals today, the chasm between Roman Catholicism and biblical Protestantism remains as wide as ever.  Catholic theology concerning the gospel, Mary, transubstantiation, indulgences, superstitions, Scripture and sainthood is in strong contradiction to the doctrines held by conservative evangelicals.  Lutzer calls for no compromise with Rome and agrees with the old saying, “It is more important to be divided by truth than it is to be united by error” (pp. 199-200).

This is a delightful and informative volume, written by a knowledgeable student of both church history and Scripture.  And it is just in time to honor the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Rescuing the Gospel, The Story and Significance of the Reformation by Erwin W. Lutzer (Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing, 2016) 200 pp; paper $11.49

Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher, Southern View Chapel