Does the Reformation Still Matter?

Does the Reformation Still Matter?

Basic information

  • Author(s):
  • Included in: Calvin Shorts
  • Published: December 15, 2016
  • Publisher: Calvin College Press
  • Page count: 112
  • ISBN: 978-1-937555-23-8
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-937555-24-5
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Does the Reformation Still Matter?

A concise and highly-readable explanation of the dramatic changes that took place during the Reformation.

This book offers a concise and highly-readable explanation of the dramatic changes that took place during the Reformation and helps readers understand the deeper impact of the Reformation beyond its own time period. Changes in theology and in worship, in the status of lay people and clergy, and in the relations between church and state reshaped Christians’ views of themselves. Early modern Christians had to rethink their relationship with God and with other Christians based on these new realities. As contemporary Christians grasp the Reformation’s dramatic impact in its own time, they will find resources for understanding and responding to challenges and conflicts today.


"Maag has written a concise, informative, and accessible account of the profound religious transformations that took place five hundred years ago—and the ways in which they continue to command our attention. Her highly readable narrative excels in clear explanations and discerning insights. It breathes fresh life into the Reformation story and its meaning in today’s world. The book is a wonderful introduction to an extremely important subject."
—Raymond A. Mentzer, Daniel J. Krumm Family Chair in Reformation Studies, University of Iowa

"Karin Maag has produced a very readable introduction to the Reformation that explains clearly what happened and asks whether it still matters today. I hope it won’t spoil the suspense if I say that she argues very convincingly that it does still matter. This book is highly recommended to those who want a straightforward account of the events of 500 years ago without presupposing too much previous knowledge. There is a useful glossary of all the terms that are used."
—Tony Lane, Professor of Historical Theology, London School of Theology

"Reformation scholar Karin Maag here distills decades of study into a short book which not only gives a clear and precise account of the impact of the Reformation in its own day but also highlights its continuing relevance to the world in which we live. In this anniversary year, there are sure to be many such books produced but, for clarity, learning, and practical reflection, I suspect this will be one of the best. A super book."
—Carl Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary, PA

"This little book is a double delight. Not only does Prof. Maag make a cogent case for why the Reformation still matters, but along the way she lucidly explains what the Reformation was and the impact it had on church and society. A timely read in this age in which religious tensions are still so much a part of the world landscape."
—Lyle D. Bierma, P. J. Zondervan Professor of the History of Christianity, Calvin Theological Seminary

"Don't know much about the Reformation? This book is for you! Know plenty about the Reformation (or think you do)? This book is for you! In this masterful, lively little volume, Karin Maag opens up key themes from the Reformation in ways that are at once accessible and fresh, and shows us why many of the issues and questions raised by the Reformation are still very much alive today."
—Suzanne McDonald, Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Western Theological Seminary

"Karin Maag’s wonderful little book Does the Reformation Still Matter? offers readers a concise yet masterful survey of the nature and long-term impact of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation. Maag’s narrative is rich in historical insight and human interest as it explores the many ways that Martin Luther and other religious reformers shaped people’s theology, transformed their worship, and reconfigured their institutions—and in so-doing, altered the course of the modern world."
—Scott M. Manetsch, Professor of Church History, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"Like her popular classes in the Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning (to whom she dedicates this work), Karin Maag’s latest book is concise, vivid, rich in content, and compelling. Before reaching her conclusion, she takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of 16th-century theology, worship, roles of clergy & laity, and relations between church & state. Maag’s mastery of the sources helps her make a very complicated story perfectly clear, and her conclusions are precise and persuasive. Supplemented with a fine glossary and bibliography, this short book is an admirable assessment of a cardinal event in the history of the church, now 500 years ago."
—Ken Bratt, CALL Board President and Professor of Classics Emeritus, Calvin College

"Accessible and engaging, Karin Maag's account of the Reformation and its significance conveys the insights of today's best historical and theological scholarship with erudition and wit."
—Barbara Pitkin, Professor of Religious Studies, Stanford University

"Karin Maag has written a slender book that is at the same time impressively weighty. Accessibly written, authoritatively narrated, and appropriately furnished with historical details, doctrinal nuances, and thought-provoking vignettes, Does the Reformation Still Matter? is a welcome antidote for the amnesia that besets so much of the church today."
—John L. Thompson, Professor of Historical Theology and Gaylen and Susan Byker Professor of Reformed Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary

"In remarkably few pages, the reader becomes familiar with the basics of the Reformation without being misinformed. The book considers the complexities of the time and variations within the traditions without adding too many details or asides."
—Joan Stob, reviewed in Christian Educators Journal

About the Author

Karin Maag is Director of the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies and professor of history at Calvin College, where she has worked since 1997. Born and brought up in Canada, she did her graduate work at the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland. She is the author, editor, or translator of numerous books on the Reformation and has written over thirty articles and book chapters. She is a social historian with a strong interest in the lived experience of early modern Christians.


Listen to: "500 Years Later: Why the Reformation Still Matters," a January Series lecture by Karin Maag.

The Reformation: What Did We Gain? What Did We Loose?

A shorter piece from The Banner Study Series by Karin Maag, which includes questions for discussion that complement Does the Reformation Still Matter? Find out more here.


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