The Unfinished Reformation: what unites and divides Catholics and Protestants after 500 years. By Gregg Allison and Christopher Castaldo.

The Unfinished Reformation: what unites and divides Catholics and Protestants after 500 years. By Gregg Allison and Christopher Castaldo.

In an adversarial culture where people are more often concerned with proving their points than hearing each other and where a faux-relativism is often employed as a trick to avoid conflict, The Unfinished Reformation is a breath of fresh air. The writers are clearly protestant but they also sincerely have a heart for Roman Catholics and anyone else seeking to know more about Jesus. “It is an infallible text that God gives us, not an infallible church,” they write in characteristic humility as they approach their topic. One of the central questions they want to ask is, “Can protestants and Catholics discuss the gospel in a fruitful way, or are the cultural and theological obstacles insurmountable?” 

As someone who grew up in the Roman Catholic church (altar boy, chorister, dad taught the confirmation classes and served on the board, both sets of grandparents were prominent members of the parish) I am often asked about my lazy/hazy journey from one church to another. I am often also asked about what the differences actually are between the churches. I do my best to answer but now I have a book to recommend and that is so much better!

This book is a relatively easy to follow (for the every man or woman) discussion of why the reformation began, what the real bones of contention were, what teachings have gotten close and which have stayed different or even grown further apart. This easy to read run down of the main arguments (what is the church, who is Jesus, what is the role of Mary, baptism, communion, scripture, tradition, etc.) is a must read for any Christian who isn’t entirely certain what their church teaches about these topics nor where their church gets their teachings from. It is also important for anyone who interacts with Christians from other tribes because it helpfully demonstrates a loving manner in which to engage in ideas we might not agree with while also clarifying ideas we do.

I especially appreciated the hopefulness these fellas have. Where many see division as pure tragedy and an embarrassment that may go one forever they believe that the divisions demonstrate hearts desiring truth and they believe that Jesus is the head of all the church and so there is always hope.

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