Few episodes in Western history have so shaped our world as the Protestant Reformation and the counter-Reformations which accompanied it. The Reformation tore the seamless garment of Western Christendom in two, pitting king and pope, laity and clergy, Protestant and Catholic against one another. But it was also a firestorm tearing through an old, stagnant, and dying forest, sowing the seeds for a burst of new and newly diverse life.
To understand why the Reformation unfolded as it did, we must understand the ideas that were so forcefully articulated, opposed, and debated by Protestants and Catholics. For Protestant or Catholic believers in this forgetful age, the need to understand these disputed doctrines, and the logic and coherence that linked them together, is all the more imperative. This is what this volume seeks to offer for the first time: a primary source reader focused squarely on the theological questions that drove the Reformation.
Beginning with the first rumblings of conflict in the late medieval period and continuing until the solidification of Protestant confessions in the early 17th century, this collection of thirty-two texts brings the modern reader face-to-face with the key men whose convictions helped shape the course of history. Concise historical introductions accompanying each text bring these writings to life by recounting the stories and conflicts that gave birth to these texts, and highlighting the enduring themes that we can glean from them.
KEY TOPICS INCLUDE: the doctrine of the church, and its relation to the state; the doctrine of the eucharist, and transubstantiation in particular; the doctrine of justification sola fide and the place of works; the meaning of the Protestant commitment to sola Scriptura; and others.
KEY AUTHORS INCLUDE: Marsilius of Padua, John Wycliffe, Erasmus of Rotterdam, Martin Luther, Thomas More, John Calvin, The Council of Trent, Thomas Cranmer, Richard Hooker, Robert Belllarmine, and many more.
Bradford Littlejohn (Ph.D, University of Edinburgh) is a scholar and writer in the fields of political theology, Christian ethics, and Reformation history. He is the author and editor of several books in these fields, most recently The Peril and Promise of Christian Liberty: Richard Hooker, the Puritans, and Protestant Political Theology (Eerdmans, 2017).
Jonathan Roberts (M.A., University of Missouri at St. Louis) hails from Aguascalientes, Mexico, and currently works as a Latin instructor for the Davenant Latin Institute and New Saint Andrews College, and pursues editing and translation projects from the Reformation era in his spare time.