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Masters of The English Reformation – A Review

Category Articles
Date April 18, 2006

Masters of the English Reformation, is a book written by Sir Marcus Loane, and published by the Banner of Truth Trust. This book was originally published in 1954 for the Church Society to mark the four-hundredth anniversary of the martyrdoms of Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley and others, who “laid down their lives in loyalty to the truth of God’s Word”. The Banner of Truth has now reprinted it on the four-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary (2005) of “their faithfulness unto death”.

The book covers the period 1505 to 1555, critical years in the history of the Reformation in England and it is clear that the author has a great affinity to those of whom he writes. He is of the opinion that “the 40 years from 1516 to 1556, during which these men found and followed Jesus Christ, were the years in which the English Reformation was cradled and nurtured for the glory of God”. This is not a statement that one can easily argue against.

The author examines the beginning and progress of the Reformation in England by giving relatively short but intense accounts of the lives of five of the most important figures of this period. These are: Thomas Bilney, William Tyndale, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer. The changes in their lives, as they studied Erasmus’ New Testament and the writings of Martin Luther, are clearly followed through their own writings; Loane makes excellent use of these primary sources.

The piety of these men, their close and constant study of the Word of God and their determination to order their lives and worship by it, are an example to us all. The way they bore up against persecution, cruelty, imprisonment and, finally, burning is an inspiration to all who love the truth. They indeed showed their faith by their works. This is no empty eulogy; their frailties, fears and failures are all allowed to speak, alongside their final triumph through God’s grace. We are encouraged to learn that they were men like ourselves, used by the Lord for the purpose of glorifying His own name in the revival of His Cause in England.

The book is well researched. The author adds a large bibliography and his sources are given at the end of each chapter. It is a scholarly work but has a racy style, which makes the book very readable to young and old; indeed at some points it is hard to lay it down. It deserves a wide readership, for it deals with issues which are relevant to our own day. The conflict in England at the Reformation was between the authority of the Word of God and the authority of the Pope. And it was their certainty of the truth of Scripture that made these men faithful unto death.

One minor difficulty is that the author mentions, without explanation, names with which many readers are not likely to be familiar. Also we are forcibly reminded throughout that Sir Marcus is an Anglican and he writes from that perspective. We commend this book to all.

Taken from the Free Presbyterian Magazine April 2006 with permission

Masters Of The English Reformation (ISBN 085151 9105) retails for $28.00 (US), £15.50 (UK and ROW) and can be purchased from the Banner of Truth book catalogue

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