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Luther Statue

11 resources you should read about the Reformation

As you no doubt are aware, it’s Reformation season! Every year, this time of year is like Christmas for theological nerds, but this time it’s really special because, 500 years ago this month, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses, and accidentally changed the world.

If you’re like me, the chances are pretty good you’ve been looking to do some reading about the Reformation, some of its more notable figures, and their theological writings. Today, I want to share with you a selection of resources I would highly encourage engaging with as you seek to better understand this movement that changed the course of history:

  1. Echoes of the Reformation by Brandon D. Smith. This is a group study produced in partnership between LifeWay Christian Resources and The Gospel Coalition that explores the Five Solas of the Reformation. Regardless of the time of year, this is a study that is worth engaging in your small group.
  2. A Simple Way to Pray by Martin Luther. This book contains some of the most helpful advice I’ve ever read on prayer: using the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostle’s Creed to focus and guide our prayers.
  3. Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer. Admittedly, I’m biased since I wrote it. But this is a very accessible introduction to the man who kickstarted the Reformation in earnest. (There’s also a nifty book version available here, too).
  4. Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton. This biography is essential reading for those wanting to dig into the background of the German Reformer.
  5. Reformation: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow by Carl Trueman. Based on a series of lectures, Trueman addresses why the Reformation continues to captivate and frustrate so many even to this day, and why its theology endures. This is a super-accessible book, one that I’d highly recommend for anyone interested in this era but not sure where to start.
  6. Institutes of the Christian Religion by the Theologian Who Shall Not Be Named™. Regardless of your opinions of said unnamed theologian’s views, The Institutes is one you should read to gain a better sense of the theology that shaped much of the west.
  7. Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley. This is one of the two books I’d encourage reading to give you greater context on why the Reformation happened at all. The fires were burning long before Luther came on the scene
  8. 2000 Years of Christ’s Power by Nick Needham. For a more extensive‚ÄĒbut readable‚ÄĒtreatment of church history, this is a great series to invest in.
  9. The Unquenchable Flame by Michael Reeves. This is another book that offers a solid introduction to the major players and ideas of the Reformation. (Stephen Nichols’ The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World is another great primer in the same vein.)
  10. Martin Luther’s Table Talk. If you’ve ever wondered what a dinner conversation with Luther would have been like, this is the book for you. Covering a plethora of theological and social issues of the day, this is one of the places where we see Luther at his most pastoral.
  11. Luther’s 95 Theses by Martin Luther. You can find them online and in different volumes, but regardless, you’ll do yourself a disservice if you don’t read the document that actually set the world on fire.
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