Home > Calvinism, church history, historic events > Reformation History Lectures From Carl Trueman

Reformation History Lectures From Carl Trueman


A few weeks ago I learned about a good church history series, posted at the “Domain for Truth” blog: a 33 part lectures series from Carl Trueman on the History of the Reformation.

I have now going through this series, past the first 5 messages, and am impressed with the level of detail including theological points, philosophy, and political factors. Most church history series do an overview treatment covering the highlights: Luther’s earlier life and the famous date Oct. 31, 1517, but then jumping forward to the Diet of Worms and then on to the next Reformer. This series spends more time in just the Reformation itself, with the first 15 messages mostly in Luther’s life, exploring Luther’s own development of theology and looking at actual Reformation-era doctrines.

Some interesting points: as SlimJim noted, that Luther was a medieval man – and the difference in overall thinking between medieval men (their rural background complete with superstitions) and the later Reformers who were of the Renaissance age and its scholarship and humanism (of the 16th century type humanism, not today’s “secular humanism”). Though the Reformation placed much emphasis on the doctrine of justification, another important issue was that of medieval sacramentalism — dealing with the actual issue of Roman Catholicism’s 7 sacraments.  Luther’s early work, “Babylonian Captivity of the Church” (1520) addressed this issue, and Luther reduced the seven down to two or three:  baptism, the Mass, and penance (then, in the conclusion Luther added that penance wasn’t a sacrament either).

Also of note: the 95 theses were really not all that radical – Luther had an issue with the abuse of indulgences rather than the issue of indulgences themselves; true repentance (like John the Baptist calling people to true repentance before they came to be baptized by him) was to Luther a necessary part of getting an indulgence, rather than just purchasing something without any heart change. Trueman relates this to the issue of pastoral concern, and the problems that a church pastor observes going on with his local congregation.

In September 1517 Luther had put forth more radical ideas, yet no one took notice then: his Disputation Against Scholastic Theology, “in which he critiqued the whole way in which medieval theology had been done for centuries. That disputation, however, passed without a murmur. Indeed, humanly speaking, it was only the unique combination of external factors—social, economic, and political—that made the later disputation the spark that lit the Reformation fuse.” In between Oct. 31, 1517 and the later Diet of Worms, several events took place, including the Heidelberg Disputation meeting in the spring of 1518, and this series spends several messages detailing these years.

Topics in the series include full lectures specifically about Luther’s “The Bondage of the Will,”  (which I read several years ago, good reading concerning the nature of man’s will), and “Luther and the Jews.”  Two lectures consider Calvin’s view of the Lord’s supper, which I have only heard briefly described (as in this post).  I look forward to these upcoming lectures as I continue through the series.

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  1. November 24, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.

    • November 24, 2014 at 11:21 am

      Thanks for all the reblogs!

      • November 24, 2014 at 11:31 am

        You’re welcome!

  2. November 26, 2014 at 4:29 am

    Wow this brought back memory of listening to this not too long ago! I totally enjoyed the series and thanks for sharing your thoughts

    • November 26, 2014 at 9:03 am

      I’m enjoying it so far too, and thanks for the initial post about it (how I learned about it).

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