At the end of his life, Augustine wrote what has become a very misunderstood book, especially by those who have not read it or any of his previous works. The book was titled Retractationes which literally means “re-treatments.” Augustine retraced his works and addressed many of the things he had already written by way of clarifications and some changes. Augustine was not recanting of the things he wrote but rather coming to them once again as a more seasoned believer and theologian.
In 1988, while teaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Timothy George wrote Theology of the Reformers, which, unbeknownst to him, would become a standard work on the subject and would be translated into several languages. Twenty five years later George has come back to his first book, not to retract from his original work, but in some ways like Augustine, to revise and expand his work from the vantage point of a seasoned historian of theology.
Recognizing that some today would bock at a book of its nature, George defends his original work, and now revised edition when he states
Theology, when it is given any truck at all, is usually given a quaint form of belles lettres, which the Reformation is generally perceived as having lost much of its explanatory valence as a coherent term of historical understanding. This book assumes the contrary on two accounts: theology matters, and the Reformation of the sixteenth century is a critical, even essential, epoch for our understanding of the Christian story then and now. (1)
The original work focused on the theology of Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin and Menno Simons. The new edition includes a chapter on William Tyndale. The rationale for discussing these five reformers over others is that “each of these figures stands at the headwaters of a major confessional tradition in the Reformation.” (17) Luther with the Protestants of the Augusburg Confession, Zwingli and Calvin with the Reformed tradition, Tyndale with the English Reformation and translator of Scripture, and Simmons with the Anabaptists. The historical, cultural and political climate these Reformers provides the backdrop through which their theological beliefs emerge and which form the primary focus of the book. George shows the reader that the questions and issues facing the Reformers still face the church today.
Theology of the Reformers 25th Anniversary Edition is a welcome continuance of George’s original work. Lovers of the original book, the Reformation and its history and new students of Reformation theology will love this book. I highly recommend it!
NOTE: I received this book for free from B&H in exchange for my honest opinion and I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review. The thoughts and words expressed are my own.