Today's book is called What is a Reformed Church? and its series title is Basics of the Faith. It's only 28 pages, but those are important and informative pages. Author is Stephen Smallman, who is a pastor in Philadelphia, and publisher is P&R Publishing, at wwwprpbooks.com. What is a Reformed Church? is part of a series of books on questions people ask. Pastor Smallman says that during his many years as pastor, he was often asked this particular question and this book began as answers to those who shared this question.
Pastor Smallman planned to cover six themes in this book and he begins his answers with historical roots of the Protestant Reformation. In the 1500s, committed Christians, such as Martin Luther, were trying to reform the established church of their day, known to us as the Roman Catholic Church. Luther joined his voice to others calling for corrections of abuses in the churches, and Luther came to the "unshakable conviction that, to be faithful to the Lord, the Church must build on the absolute authority of Scripture." Luther's "uncompromising stance forced him to leave the Church of Rome in 1520, and the new movement was under way."
Some of the churches followed Luther while others in Europe were labeled "Reformed" churches, and one of the leaders of the Reformed was "the Frenchman John Calvin, the principle teacher for the church of Geneva." Even today, terms such as Reformed and Calvinist are nearly synonymous. Calvin's Institutes began as a tract but was revised and enlarged four times. The final edition of 1559 is still studied today.
Smallman continues, describing the six themes of Reformed heritage. They are: Scripture, Divine Sovereignty, The Covenant, The Law of God, The Church, and The Kingdom of God. He describes each theme, giving some of its history. explaining where it is now and what we should look for in future. I highly recommend this book. As the Reformers said, "True reform is never finished---a Reformed Church will be continually reforming. God is the same. His word is true." But our world is changing. We need "new ways of speaking about the God who is our Rock."
---Lois Sibley, ireviewreligiousbks