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Reformation Theology: A Reader of Primary Sources with Introductions (Littlejohn and Roberts)

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Davenant Trust
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Few episodes in Western history have so shaped our world as the Protestant Reformation and the counter-Reformations which accompanied it. The Reformation tore the seamless garment of Western Christendom in two, pitting king and pope, laity and clergy, Protestant and Catholic against one another. But it was also a firestorm tearing through an old, stagnant, and dying forest, sowing the seeds for a burst of new and newly diverse life.

To understand why the Reformation unfolded as it did, we must understand the ideas that were so forcefully articulated, opposed, and debated by Protestants and Catholics. For Protestant or Catholic believers in our own forgetful age, the need to understand these disputed doctrines, and the logic and coherence that linked them together, is all the more imperative. This is what this volume seeks to offer for the first time: a primary source reader focused squarely on the theological questions that drove the Reformation.

Beginning with the first rumblings of conflict in the late medieval period and continuing until the solidification of Protestant confessions in the early 17th century, this collection of thirty-two texts brings the modern reader face-to-face with the key men whose convictions helped shape the course of history. Concise historical introductions accompanying each text bring these writings to life by recounting the stories and conflicts that gave birth to these texts, and highlighting the enduring themes that we can glean from them.



Table of Contents:


  1. Boniface VIII, Clericis Laicos (1296) and Unam Sanctam (1302)
  2. Marsilius of Padua, Defender of the Peace, excerpts
  3. John Wycliffe, Trialogus (1384), Bk. IV, chs. 2–6 (on theEucharist)
  4. The Council of Constance, Sacrosancta (1414) and Frequens (1417)
  5. John Hus, On the Church (1413), chs. 1–3, 10
  6. Erasmus of Rotterdam, Julius Excluded from Heaven (1517), excerpt
  7. Martin Luther, Ninety-Five Theses (1517)
  8. Martin Luther, A Letter to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation (1520), Introduction and The Three Walls of the Romanists
  9. Martin Luther, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church (1520), The Sacrament of the Altar              
  10. Pope Leo X, Exsurge Domine (1520)
  11. Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian (1520)
  12. Michael Sattler, The Schleitheim Articles (1527)
  13. Thomas More, A Dialogue Concerning Heresies (1529), Bk. I, chs. 19-23
  14. Philipp Melanchthon, Apology of the Augsburg Confession (1531), Article IV: Of Justification
  15. Thomas Cajetan, Four Lutheran Errors (1531)
  16. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536/1559), Prefatory Address; Book I, chs. 1–6
  17. The Council of Trent, Decree and Canons Concerning Justification (1545)
  18. The Council of Trent, Decree and Canons Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist (1551)
  19. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises (1548), excerpt
  20. Heinrich Bullinger, Decades (1549), II.7: “Of the Magistrate, and Whether the Care of Religion Appertain to Him or No”
  21. Peter Martyr Vermigli, Oxford Treatise on the Eucharist (1549), Preface and Arguments Against Transubstantiation
  22. Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent (1565–73), Topic IX, Section 1 (Concerning the Sacrament of Order)
  23. Zacharias Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism (1585), Qs. 86–91
  24. Thomas Cranmer, The Book of Common Prayer (1559), Preface, On Ceremonies, and Order for Holy Communion
  25. John Foxe, Acts and Monuments (1563), The Martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer
  26. John Field and Thomas Wilcox, An Admonition to Parliament (1572), excerpts
  27. Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Preface, chs. 1, 4; Book III, chs. 2–3; Book IV, chs. 1–4
  28. Robert Bellarmine, Controversies of the Christian Religion (1581–93), Controversy I, Q. 4: On the Perspicuity of Scripture
  29. William Whitaker, A Disputation on Holy Scripture (1588), Controversy I, Q. 4: On the Perspicuity of Scripture
  30. Synod of Dordt, The Canons of Dordt (1619)


Bradford Littlejohn (Ph.D, University of Edinburgh) is a scholar and writer in the fields of political theology, Christian ethics, and Reformation history.  He is the author and editor of several books in these fields, most recently The Peril and Promise of Christian Liberty: Richard Hooker, the Puritans, and Protestant Political Theology (Eerdmans, 2017).

Jonathan Roberts (M.A., University of Missouri at St. Louis) hails from Aguascalientes, Mexico, and currently works as a Latin instructor for the Davenant Latin Institute and New Saint Andrews College, and pursues editing and translation projects from the Reformation era in his spare time.