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Matthew Barrett’s The Reformation as Renewal Released with Zondervan Academic

Posted June 6, 2023 by Brett Fredenberg

KANSAS CITY, Mo—Midwestern Seminary celebrated the release of The Reformation as Renewal: Retrieving the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church (Zondervan Academic) by Matthew Barrett, professor of Christian theology.

“Dr. Barrett’s The Reformation as Renewal is truly a remarkable work, both in its size and its contents,” said President Jason Allen. “The Reformation is one of the most important events in church history. Now, thanks to Dr. Barrett, Evangelical Protestants can better understand some of the most important roots and aims of the Reformers and why they matter.”

Barrett’s The Reformation as Renewal offers a fresh history of the Reformation to help Protestants understand their own origin and identity.

Throughout the book, Barrett writes to correct many of the misconceptions Protestants have had regarding the events that started the Reformation.

Speaking to one of these misconceptions, he said, “Oftentimes, the story of the Reformation is told as if the Reformation is a total break from the past. When you read the Reformers themselves though, as well as their 16th and 17th century children, what you discover is that they thought of themselves in continuity with the past on key doctrines. The word for this is catholicity.”

The book gives extensive treatments of many Reformers, such as Luther and Calvin, but it also sets them in their proper context so readers can understand how the Reformers were indebted to those who came before them—such as Augustine, Aquinas, and others.

He seeks to show how the Reformers’ own background and education informed the way they passed on the faith to those after them so as to preserve what they believed to be the true church from the past.

“I know from experience that young Protestants are weary of evangelical churches that have no roots and no concern for orthodoxy,” Barrett said. “If Protestantism cannot demonstrate its catholicity, then they leave and will find it elsewhere. My project, therefore, is an attempt to show Protestants that they have every right to citizenship in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. The book is big because I needed to let Protestants hear the voices of the Reformers themselves.”

The book has received several critical appraisals.

Michael Horton, professor of systematic theology at Westminster Seminary California, said, “For a long time, the Reformation has been misrepresented by polemical scholarship. More sadly, modern Protestantism often supports the caricatures. Finally, we have a weighty, passionate, and well-informed riposte. This is a must-read for friend and foe alike.”

Michael Haykin, chair and professor of church history at Southern Seminary, also said, “Barrett tackles not only some of the major theological issues of the world of the Late Middle Ages and the era of the Reformation, but also ably corrects some common misreadings of the Reformation from secular, Roman Catholic, and evangelical Protestant scholars. It is a splendid work and a must-read for anyone interested in the most important event in the last millennium of church history.”

Joel R. Beeke, president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, said, “Matthew Barrett argues that the Reformers did not aim to start a new church but to renew the true ‘catholic’ church—that is, the universal church that Christ is building in all ages and among all nations through his Word. Barrett’s thesis is stimulating and his arguments robust.”

Matthew Barrett’s The Reformation as Renewal is now available for purchase anywhere books are sold.

To read an excerpt of the book, visit

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