Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 03:4 (Fall 1994)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

The Theology of the Reformers, Timothy George. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman/Holman Press, 1988. 337 pages, cloth, $21.95.

Seldom in the recent decade have I been able to read such a highly researched, serious, scholarly, and massively relevant work with the degree of relaxation, delight, and anticipation as I experienced in reading and re-reading Timothy George’s The Theology of the Reformers. Readers of Reformation & Revival Journal will find the approach and concerns of Dr. George both enlightening and challenging.


This work does not attempt a general survey of Europe during the Reformation period, nor is it an attempt to develop a general synthesis of Reformation theology. George has chosen to focus on the “theological self-understanding of four major reformers” (p. 18). Those words, “theological self-understanding,” define precisely his approach distinguishing this book from the growing number of social-and psycho-treatments of religious figures. Luther, Bunyan, Whitefield, Calvin and others have bled beneath the social scientist’s knife, and our zeal for reformation and revival is none the better for it. But George’s treatment is different. He believes theology defined the thinking and activity of these sixteenth-century figures more than any other factor. For that reason, in his own intriguing and elegant style, George invites the reader to hear the Reformers’ words, grasp their thoughts, and empathize with their affections. No need to wonder if one is hearing Luther (or Zwingli, et al.) or merely the ventriloquized concerns of George, for the author’s success depends on whether “we have asked ourselves their questions and listened well to their answers” (p. 19).


Thorough and balanced research are central to George’s method. He is no stranger to the questions and characterizations that emerge in the secondary literature and integrates these into the discussion in an appropriate fashion. He does not, however, allow others to dominate his work; he is not their slave. The primary sources are the paint in which George’s brush constantly dips.

His organization of the material gives necessary structure but is not die-cast. Common themes run through each chapter (Christology, ecclesiology, soteriology, etc.) but each Reformer is allowed to speak for himself on each of these themes. George sorts out carefully the context of each theologian. He forfeits nothing of the uniqueness of the personality, concerns, and contributions of each. While doing this, he develops a balance between freshness of content and thematic consistency in presentation. In the end he is able to distill the evang...

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