As a parent of six young children, I am constantly looking out for Christian resources to put in their hands. The Reformation in particular, is one of the pivotal moments in church history that has been sadly neglected today. More and more authors however, are now filling this gap and providing excellent books for our children.
The Glory of Grace: The Story of the Canons of Dort
Once again William Boekestein has given us a fantastic book for children. The Glory of Grace: the Story of the Canons of Dort is his third book in a series from Reformation Heritage Books. Each book is illustrated by Evan Hughes and looks at the historical background to one of the confessional statements that make up the “Three Forms of Unity” treasured for centuries by the Reformed Church. I reviewed his book on the Heidelberg Catechism previously and was pleased to find this title lived up to my expectations.
The book is bright and colorful and provides a thorough backdrop to the Synod of Dort. The battle for Dutch independence and the Catholic inquisition are touched on, as well as the Protestant Reformation. The story of Jacobus Arminius and his followers, the Remonstrants, is then told in some detail. Boekestein describes the controversy that birthed the Synod and includes summaries of the five counterpoints (known as the “Canons of Dort”) it published in response to the five points of the Remonstrants. Boekestein then reflects on the lasting legacy of Dort and the current rise in Calvinism in light of the prevailing Arminian character of American Christianity.
This sure is a lot to cover in one small kids book, but the author manages to be just detailed enough to be accurate and simple enough to be understood by a variety of ages. He is thorough where he needs to be and also treats the topic with a largely irenic and charitable spirit. Still, at times the brevity and format of the book force the inclusion of some statements which seem to over-exaggerate the ill motives of Arminius and the Remonstrants. What more than redeems the book is its success in bringing the world of 17th century Holland to life and inviting today’s young people to consider the importance of theology and doctrine. His book brings the Reformation to life and will earn an important place on the bookshelves and home-school desks of Reformed Christians everywhere.
I hope that some who appreciate the history of the Reformation but eschew the Reformed label, will not hesitate to also pick up this title and use it as a historical resource. Those in Reformed-leaning churches and others who respect Luther and Calvin but have never heard of the Three Forms of Unity will find this book intriguing and perhaps venture on to read through, and learn to appreciate, the historic creeds and confessions of our Protestant heritage.
One more wish. I hope that Boekestein and Hughes don’t stop here. I’d love to see the Westminster Confession of Faith, and even the London Baptist Confession detailed in a similar story format to the titles in this series. For now, I’m going to have to purchase the first book in the series to complete my set – and I’d encourage our readers to pick up all three titles. You won’t be disappointed.
William Boekestein (M.Div., Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary) is pastor of Covenant Reformed Church in Carbondale, Pennsylvania. He previously taught in a Christian school for several years. He and his wife, Amy, have three children.
Evan Hughes is an illustrator and graphic designer. He and his wife, Kate, live in Scranton, Pennsylvania with their two sons.
Inside the Reformation
by Concordia Publishing House
Concordia Publishing House 2012
Hardcover, 72 pp.
Having just concluded a ten week adult SS series on the Reformation, I was excited to get my hands on a new book that introduces children to the world of the Reformation. Inside the Reformation, compiled by Mark Sengele, is a beautifully produced, coffee-table quality book for kids. The pictures and illustrations are top-notch and will captivate young readers.
The book covers such topics as the Holy Roman Empire, world exploration, music, food and medicine in the middle ages, travel, art, architecture and more. Martin Luther is the focus of this work produced by Concordia Publishing House. Some space is devoted to Luther’s wife and other reformers such as Philip Melanchthon, John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli. Important Reformation events such as Luther’s 95 Theses and the Diet of Worms, as well as significant documents, like the Augsburg Confession and the Book of Concord are also surveyed.
The book is a montage of assorted pictures and information, and no attempt is made to tell the full story of the Reformation, directly. Even so, the collection of engaging images and intriguing facts will spur readers to research further and inquire into the history of the Reformation for themselves. The detail and intricacy of some of the concepts covered in this book make it more suited for children in middle school and above.
This book would make a great resource for the child studying Reformation-era history. It would also serve as a useful addition to a homeschool curriculum covering Church history. I was quite impressed with the quality of the book and am very thankful that such high-quality resources are being made available for our children.
Bob Hayton has a BA in Pastoral Theology with a Greek emphasis and a MA in Bible from Fairhaven Baptist College and Seminary in Chesterton, IN. He is a happily married father of six and actively serves as a deacon at Beacon of Hope Church, St. Paul, MN. Since 2005, he has been blogging theology at FundamentallyReformed.com. He founded KJVOnlyDebate.com and can be found as well at Re-Fundamentals.org.