Book Review: The Unquenchable Flame (Reeves)

Title: The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation.

Author: Michael Reeves

Publisher: B&H Academic (2010)

Rating: ***

(Ratings for books, movies, and cds are out of four stars)

While randomly surfing I selected a number of new books which The Unquenchable Flame happened to be among.  I’d never heard of Michael Reeves before and I didn’t know what to expect from the book.  I knew it was history, that it was about the Reformation, and that I like both of those subjects…especially together.  So I got it.

If I could sum up my opinion in two words they’d be: Pleasantly Surprised.

Mark Dever (Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church) wrote:  “With the skill of a scholar and the art of a storyteller, Michael Reeves has written what is, quite simply, the best brief introduction to the Reformation I have read.”  With that endorsement in mind I give my pros and cons as follows…


Cons first, just to get the bad out of the way.  Don’t expect a scholarly resource, as Reeves does not cite any specific authors, books, or resources in footnotes or endnotes, that would be helpful in further researching a topic.  I am also never a big fan of no citation, as I take it to mean that either this is original, well-known, or completely made up material.  I am forced to take him at his word.  Though the publisher may be to blame…no harm.  At any rate- to be fair- there is a “further reading” section at the end of the book.

The only other problem- and this is strictly personal- it is short, concise, and introductory, so it is going to short you on detailed information (not like The Reformation by Diarmaid MacCulloch, which might be a good thing).  But, again, to be fair, the subtitle is “Discorvering the Heart of the Reformation” and to that end it does its job.


Reeves really does display a fine display of storytelling.  His writing is engaging and interesting, and unlike MacCulloch (mentioned above), he does not bog the reader down in tedious information.  All information is relevant and very interesting.

Reeves touches on the major Reformers, the major disputes, and the various Radical Reformation groups that sprung up during this time.  It begins with Midieval Christianity, the rule of the Catholic Church, to Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and into the Puritans of England.  The chapter “Is the Reformation Over?” is one I appreciated, especially in light of the current ecumenical trend among many modern-day Protestants.  I agree with Dever that this book may be one of the best introductions to the Reformation and the heart of it all, namely, justification by faith alone (and all 5 solas), and whether or not these issues were worth a reformation and split in the Church which continues to this day.

The book is 191 pages long, includes a timeline, and further reading section at the end.  It is very easy to read, and would be beneficial to anyone interested in this time in history, whether they are in high school, college, or just a curious Christian reader.

Would I recommed it: Yes…most definitely.


~ by TSL on June 6, 2010.

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