A Reader of Primary Sources with Introductions

Paperback. 761pp. $35.99

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 our own 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.

Now revised to include a comprehensive index, as of February 2018!


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.


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.

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Experience The Reformation First-Hand

Experience The Reformation First-Hand

Experience The Reformation First-Hand

The Editors

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.


Table of Contents

General Introduction iii
 About this Edition xii
1 Boniface VIII, Clericis Laicos (1296) and Unam Sanctam (1302) 1
2 Marsilius of Padua, Defender of the Peace, excerpts 11
3 John Wycliffe, Trialogus (1384), Bk. IV, chs. 2–6 (on theEucharist) 24
4 The Council of Constance, Sacrosancta (1414) and Frequens (1417) 47
5 John Hus, On the Church (1413), chs. 1–3, 10 60
6 Erasmus of Rotterdam, Julius Excluded from Heaven (1517), excerpt 95
 7 Martin Luther, Ninety-Five Theses (1517) 117
8 Martin Luther, A Letter to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation (1520), Introduction and The Three Walls of the Romanists 130
9 Martin Luther, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church (1520), The Sacrament of the Altar 148
10 Pope Leo X, Exsurge Domine (1520) 181
11 Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian (1520) 195
12 Michael Sattler, The Schleitheim Articles (1527) 236
13 Thomas More, A Dialogue Concerning Heresies (1529), Bk. I, chs. 19-23 245
14  Philipp Melanchthon, Apology of the Augsburg Confession (1531), Article IV: Of Justification 272
15  Thomas Cajetan, Four Lutheran Errors (1531) 302
16  John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536/1559), Prefatory Address; Book I, chs. 1–6 320
17  The Council of Trent, Decree and Canons Concerning Justification (1545) 367
18  The Council of Trent, Decree and Canons Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist (1551) 389
19  Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises (1548), excerpt 401
20  Heinrich Bullinger, Decades (1549), II.7: “Of the Magistrate, and Whether the Care of Religion Appertain to Him or No” 418
21  Peter Martyr Vermigli, Oxford Treatise on the Eucharist (1549), Preface and Arguments Against Transubstantiation 443
22  Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent (1565–73), Topic IX, Section 1 (Concerning the Sacrament of Order) 471
23  Zacharias Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism (1585), Qs. 86–91 502
24  Thomas Cranmer, The Book of Common Prayer (1559), Preface, On Ceremonies, and Order for Holy Communion 543
25  John Foxe, Acts and Monuments (1563), The Martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer 574
26  John Field and Thomas Wilcox, An Admonition to Parliament (1572), excerpts 591
27  Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Preface, chs. 1, 4; Book III, chs. 2–3; Book IV, chs. 1–4 607
28  Robert Bellarmine, Controversies of the Christian Religion (1581–93), Controversy I, Q. 4: On the Perspicuity of Scripture 636
29  William Whitaker, A Disputation on Holy Scripture (1588), Controversy I, Q. 4: On the Perspicuity of Scripture 674
30 Synod of Dordt, The Canons of Dordt (1619) 709
Index 733

About The Davenant Institute

The Davenant Institute supports the renewal of Christian wisdom for the contemporary church. It seeks to sponsor historical scholarship at the intersection of the church and academy, build networks of friendship and collaboration within the Reformed and evangelical world, and equip the saints with time-tested resources for faithful public witness. See more at