I thought I’d kick off my 2011 reading with a bit of church history. The first book I’ll be reviewing this year is Five Leading Reformers: Lives at a Watershed of History by Christopher Catherwood. The book gives brief accounts of the lives of Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, Thomas Cranmer and John Knox. I was very pleased by the introduction, where Catherwood clearly states his own theological bent. He describes himself as a “Protestant, of a theologically conservative kind, with a world view predominantly in tune with that of the Reformers, and of John Calvin in particular.” (p. 8). It is always refreshing when an author clearly states the position he or she is coming from. This can be particularly difficult to find in many books, so I’m always very thankful when it is clearly defined from the start. So far I’m about half way through the chapter on Martin Luther. I was surprised to learn that Luther’s superior Staupitz, out of frustration over Luther’s incessant confessions, “urged Luther to kill someone to have something really big to confess!” (p. 21).
I find Catherwood’s writing style to be quite engaging and because of this, the book moves along at a nice pace. At 159 pages, the book is short enough to read in one or two sittings. If this sounds like a book you’d enjoy, I’d suggest checking out the introduction, which Christian Focus Publications has made available as a PDF here: LINK. The book is available for purchase from Westminster Bookstore, Amazon.com, directly from Christian Focus Publications and elsewhere.
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