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Remembering the Reformation—TGCA talks to Australian Theologians

With Reformation Day fast approaching we thought we'd do a quick poll of a few experts in church history and historical theology. Here's what they said:


Rachel Ciano 
(Church History, Sydney Missionary and Bible College)


1. What are you most grateful to God for about for the Reformation?

That justification by faith alone in Christ alone again took centre stage in people's lives, and generations later countless people, including myself, benefit from that legacy.

Tyndale Bible

3. Why is the Reformation still relevant? 

The Reformation is still relevant because God's word is (and always will be!) relevant. The Reformers simply opened and taught the Scriptures, and used the truths found within to confront the Church of their day. Martin Luther wrote, " I simply taught, preached, wrote God's Word: otherwise I did nothing…the Word did it all." 

4. What have you been doing to celebrate the 500th anniversary?

I went to Rome this year! It was more coincidence than intent, however it was great to go again to the place that for the Reformers symbolised and actualised much of their struggle to have God's Word rightly understood again.

5. Is there any one aspect of the Reformation or its theology that you wish modern believers understood?

How transforming and precious God's Word is. It was a radical thing for the Reformers to push to translate and distribute the Bible into the languages of their people, and it often cost people their lives. William Tyndale, who himself was executed for translating the Bible into English, wrote: "it was impossible to establish the lay people in any truth, except the scripture were plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue." He wanted the "boy that drives the plough to know more of the Scripture" than the Pope. The Reformers knew how important it was that people could read the Bible in their own tongue, and knew that God could and would reveal himself to people through his Word.

It was impossible to establish the lay people in any truth, except the scripture were plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue.

William Tyndale

6. Who's your favourite reformer?

Thomas Cranmer. He accomplished a lot for the Reformation in England in the midst of some very difficult circumstances, and the manner of his death was a huge statement for the Reformation and his own personal convictions.  

7. If you could only recommend one book (primary or secondary) on the Reformation, what would it be?

For an introduction and overview of the Reformation, including key players: The Unquenchable Flame by Michael Reeves.


Jared Hood 
(Old Testament & Historical Theology, Presbyterian Theological College, Melbourne)


1. What are you most grateful to God for about for the Reformation?

The Reformation made clear what medieval sophistry had obscured—the way of salvation, and the voice of God. And what inspiring, God-instilled courage from those who withstood Rome.

2. Do you have any regrets about it?

The Protestants had no option but to divide the Western Church, so no regrets there. Some interpret the Reformation as individualism and antinomianism, but that wasn’t the vision.

3. Why is the Reformation still relevant? 

God’s truth abideth still. And I don’t think we’re smarter than the Reformers.

Recovering The Reformed Confession Edit

4. What have you been doing to celebrate the 500th anniversary?

I edited, and wrote an article for, the special Luther supplement of the Reformed Theological Review, Australia’s longest-running Protestant theological journal. Contributions from PTC, Ridley, Moore, SMBC and Christ College. Purchase online at rtr.org.au.

5. Is there any one aspect of the Reformation or its theology that you wish modern believers understood?

The ‘third use of the law’—obedience to the law pleases the Father. And the doctrine of the one covenant of grace that underpins it, which is essential to all Reformed theology.

Obedience to the law pleases the Father. The doctrine of the one covenant of grace that underpins it is essential to all Reformed theology.

6. Who's your favourite reformer?

Bucer is said to have been the most irenic. Intellectually, I’m still losing arguments to Calvin. Personally, though, the flawed Cranmer strikes home, with his liturgical elegance, his loyalty to Henry, and his timorous courage in martyrdom.

7. If you could only recommend one book (primary or secondary) on the Reformation, what would it be?

Roland Bainton, Here I Stand. Beza’s Life of Calvin. Alister McGrath, Reformation Thought. Calvin, Institutes. Bullinger, One and Eternal Covenant.


Tim Patrick
(Principal, Bible College of South Australia)


1. What are you most grateful to God for about for the Reformation? 

Like many people, I’m deeply grateful for the doctrines that the Reformation recaptured and reprioritised for the church. However, I’m also very thankful for the theological methods and resources it brought to the fore. By championing the ad fontes approach of Renaissance Humanism, the Reformation didn’t just tell us what we ought to believe, but encouraged us to search the Scriptures for ourselves. And then, of course, it also supplied us the Scriptures in the vernacular so that we could. I feel that these are perhaps the greatest gifts of the Reformation.

Cranmer Thomas Pic

2. Do you have any regrets about it? 

Yes. Despite all of the faults of the Medieval Roman Catholic Church, there were actually a few babies in with the bathwater. And while the Reformers did not totally dispense with all the Catholics held close—Protestants and Catholics still believe the same foundational Creeds after all—they were perhaps sometimes too fast to dispense with some aspects of Catholic piety.

3. Why is the Reformation still relevant?  

The Reformation is still relevant because the gospel is still relevant. More particularly, the Reformation shows us what it looks like to return to the Bible and to biblical faith in Christ at a time of major cultural change. It demonstrated something of the courage and conviction that followers of Jesus may need as Christendom collapses in the West and new cultural paradigms take over.

The Reformation demonstrated something of the courage and conviction that followers of Jesus may need as Christendom collapses in the West and new cultural paradigms take over.

4. What have you been doing to celebrate the 500th anniversary? 

It was an honour to be able to contribute a chapter on Thomas Cranmer and the reform of liturgy for the Apollos / IVP volume Celebrating the Reformation, and to present that work at the annual Moore College School of Theology. I have also been working on my little handbook to the Founding Formularies of the Anglican Church for the Latimer Trust which should be available in the first part of next year.

6. Who's your favourite reformer? 

For me, it has to be Thomas Cranmer. This is partly because I am an Anglican and he’s our guy. But it’s also because I love the fact that he was a churchman and a scholar and a strategist—and also a human being in the real world! What I mean by that is that his weaknesses and struggles are well known that you cannot make an idol of him, and yet you can feel very encouraged that he is an example of God doing mighty things through fallible people in complex circumstances.



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