I must confess that I’ve never had a huge interest in church history and have even (gasp) considered it to be largely irrelevant. I didn’t take the Church History class at Bible college, instead choosing the Bible and missions classes – the more “practical” ones! Encouraged by my wonderful husband, a few months ago, I picked up a book called, “The Unquenchable Flame,” by Michael Reeves and couldn’t put it down! (Just as an aside, Mike is one of the Cor Deo trustees and Peter regards him highly.)
This book is an introduction to the Reformation and is written in a really engaging way that makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens next. There are chapters on Martin Luther and John Calvin as well as the lesser known, Ulrich Zwingli. I felt I got a real sense of what these men were like and what motivated the radical messages they wrote and spoke to a very hostile world around them. I especially enjoyed the chapters on the English Reformation and Puritanism which fitted in nicely with my study of British history with Hannah and Aliyah. The book ends with a very important question, “Is the Reformation over?” Have the Protestant and Catholic faiths finally reached an agreement about justification by faith? Mike Reeves’ answer is definitely worth reading!
When I closed the book, I was actually feeling quite emotional! I felt tremendously thankful for the godly men and women who were willing to challenge the unbiblical teaching they saw in the church. Some of them gave their lives rather than stop spreading the message of the true gospel of Jesus. Is doctrinal clarity as important to us as it was to them? Are we making sure our children and our church members understand clearly how to be saved? Or is the general understanding about salvation so murky that we now believe it doesn’t matter whether we are Protestant or Catholic?
This book stirred me. It made me want to do something to respond to what I’d read. It made me want to make sure my children and people at our church truly understand that salvation is a free gift. So, for our family’s latest memory verse project, I have put together a list of verses from Romans and Ephesians that explain the gospel and justification by faith alone. (Click here for the list) We are working our way through them and talking about what they mean. It’s so incredibly foundational. We must get this right or our “faith” is worthless. I have also suggested to my husband that he preach a series of messages on “What is the Gospel?” at our local church. Watch this space.
Reading “The Unquenchable Flame” has also helped me to understand how incredibly blessed I am to have the written Word of God freely available to me and the freedom to believe its message. People died so I could have this privilege. Do I care? Do I devour the Bible as if it’s the treasure that it is?
Every thinking Christian should read this book. Oh, I guess if you are a non-thinking Christian, you should read this book too, since it will make you think.