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The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation

4.38  ·  Rating Details  ·  378 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
Burning pyres, nuns on the run, stirring courage, and comic relief: the Protestant Reformation is a gripping tale, packed with drama. But what motivated the Reformers? And what were they really like?

The Unquenchable Flame, a lively, accessible, and fully informative introduction to the Reformation by Michael Reeves, brings to life the movement’s most colorful characters (
Kindle Edition, 211 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by B&H Publishing Group (first published June 1st 2009)
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May 04, 2013 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To date, I don't think that I have found a better, more concise introduction to the Reformation's characters, events, and theology. This book is so good. It's readable, exciting, and at times very funny. In under 200 pages, Reeves manages to capture the pastoral implications, as well as the spiritual fervor of what began in Germany in the 16th century.

Whenever people now ask me for an introduction to the Reformation, I will hand them this. I am certainly indebted to Reeves for such a great book
Gina Johnson
Jul 17, 2016 Gina Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well written, interesting, easy to read. I really enjoyed this book and I plan to read parts of it to my kids to go along with some of our history in the upcoming school year. If you're interested in the reformation, or even just history, I highly recommend this!
Ben House
Jun 05, 2016 Ben House rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, theology
With the 500 Year Celebration of the Protestant Reformation coming soon, this is a good introduction, overview, or review of the key figures and events. I hope to use this book in the future in my Modern World Humanities course. I have read many books, both histories and biographies, related to Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, the Puritans, and events both causing and resulting from the Reformation. What makes this book stand out is its brevity. It would excellent for teaching students. It is simp ...more
Stephen Durrant

A short break from novels for an excursion into the history of the Reformation. This book is brief and written in a lively style that focuses attention on the major reformers, Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin, without ignoring a host of less well-known personalities. While it can be recommended as an easy introduction to the topic or a quick review of facts once learned in, say, a college course (in my case fifty years ago!), Reeves' book has a major flaw: it is a rather pro-Protestant, polemical boo
May 24, 2012 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book Review
Jason Scott

The Unquenchable Flame
Discovering the Heart of the Reformation
By Michael Reeves

This is a good concise history of the Protestant Reformation. Reeves does a very good job in retelling the key events that led to the Reformation. He begins in chapter one by talking about the events that led up to October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the church door at Wittenberg, Germany. These events involved men such as John Wycliffe and Jan Hus.

Reeves helps correct
The Unquenchable Flame is an excellent, entertaining, readable introduction to the Protestant Reformation. Major players like Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli are covered, as well as lesser known figures like Jan Hus, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Richard Sibbes and the Puritans. Reeves does a fantastic job of tracing the major events and personalities of the movement across Europe, plus discussing why the original issues are still just as pertinent today. A timeline and suggestions for further ...more
Oct 24, 2015 Corey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good stuff. I intentionally read this around Reformation Day (Oct 31). Short intro to the Reformation. Lots of pictures and sidebars to break up the reading. The history was lively kept me engaged. The book did a good job stirring up a thirst for more on this topic. I found myself pulling off other books on my shelf such as Calvin's Institutes and "Is the Reformation Over?" by Noll & Nystrom (along w/ Carl Truman's critique in his essay w/ the same title) just because the book drew me in and ...more
Eddie Williams
Mar 11, 2014 Eddie Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic primer on the reformation.

This one reads like a story, giving the reader a brief insight into each of the major characters of the reformation and their opponents.

We read about Luther and his story as a renegade monk, but also Erasmus and their rivalry. We Hear about Calvin and Geneva, but then also hear about Jacob Arminius and his Free Will doctrine.

The author does include certain stories with extreme detail. It would seem he chose to highlight some of the funniest, outlandish and
Evan Knies
Dec 05, 2014 Evan Knies rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex Stroshine
Dec 13, 2015 Alex Stroshine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I cannot recall a book I flip-flopped over more when it came to the rating. I initially was going to rate it 3, then 4, then back to 3 (3.5 would have been good!). While Michael Reeves provides us in this book with a good primer to the Reformation, there were some areas I felt the author did not go into enough detail. Some of this I feel is because the book reads a bit too much like an uncritical piece of Protestant hagiography. For one, while briefly mentioned, the division of Luther and Zwingl ...more
The lack of footnotes and general references in this book (about history!) is almost astounding. I realize it’s a small book meant to just introduce a reader who may know nothing about the Reformation but that does not mean you shouldn’t cite yourself! In fact it is a large strike against this book. Another strike is the somewhat biased writing instead of stating historical facts in some interesting way. While obviously this topic means a great deal to the author, a clearer disticntion between f ...more
Oct 06, 2014 Sonny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michael Reeves has written a terrific, yet concise, introduction to the Reformation that is suitable for both students and laypeople. The first chapter sets the stage by describing the state of medieval Europe prior to the Reformation, before there was any indication of discontent with the Roman Catholic Church. The next five chapters cover the major reformers and groups of individuals God used to bring about the Reformation: Luther, Zwingli, John Calvin, the British (and Scottish) reformers, an ...more
John Gardner
May 26, 2010 John Gardner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love to learn stuff I didn’t know. That’s why I loved this book! Not only is this a very readable overview of church history in the Reformation era; it’s also chock full of sidenotes and interesting tidbits of information (such as the origin of the term “hocus pocus”) that are like candy to a history buff like me.

Michael Reeves has organized this book very well. Rather than attempting to write a purely chronological history of the era, he approaches the era by concentrating on how different re
Matt Tyler
Jan 01, 2015 Matt Tyler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Wow! I am glad that this was my first read of 2015. What a wonderful little book to start the year on. Reeves' accessible (less than 200 pages) book on the history of the reformation is encouraging, engaging, and extremely readable. This would be a great book for anyone who is interested in an introduction to the reformation. It reads like a story (it is one!), but encourages like a biography. One can't help but read it and stand amazed at God's providence during this unique time in history.
Matt Crawford
Jun 03, 2016 Matt Crawford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reeves recounting of the Reformation should be read by someone who already knows a great deal about it. He summarizes it as if you already know the story he just wants to reminds you of it. His question of when the Reformation and is only answered by the end of his story. I expected him to say that it is still going on but he stops his narrative at the Puritans in England crossing to America. It's a great short read just don't expect it to go very in-depth
Corey Hampton
Jan 15, 2015 Corey Hampton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a really helpful introduction to the Protestant Reformation. I really enjoy the way that Mike Reeves writes, and have had the privilege of hearing him preach and teach a few times. This is the best book on the Reformation that I have read so far and will use it as a resource for years to come. There are also lots of pictures (if you're into that sort of thing) :).
Mar 01, 2015 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was decent. It was short and highly readable, while seeming to touch the key points of the Reformation. It's probably a fine place to start, but I couldn't help but feeling like I was getting a narrow view. The final chapter especially was a bit too short and short on arguments. Overall, though, I found the book an easy introduction to the topic.
Jun 22, 2014 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book takes the reader through Reformation history in a very personable way. The reader is introduced to Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc....from a much more many-sided and human perspective. I highly recommend this book not just for history buffs but for anyone who wants to understand why the time of the reformation was important.
Nov 29, 2014 Josiah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I confess that I didn't know very much at all about the reformation. I knew about Luther, Calvin, but not much at all.
This book is a good primer for learning the basics of what happened and why. I now know a bit more and am eager to learn some more details of those events all those years ago.
Apr 01, 2015 Patrick rated it really liked it
Simple and insightful

The author definitely tells the story in a wonderful fashion. It is history but will have you glued to your seat. Laughing at times and heartbroken at others this is the story of the power of the gospel in the hands of a few good men ordained by God to bring truth back into the hands of the people. Highly recommended for anyone trying to get a sense of the importance of the reformation and whether or not the reformation still lives on today
James Ritchie
Sep 28, 2014 James Ritchie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lively and well written introduction to the reformation. For me it was a real page turner (something I can't say about too many non fiction books!). Reeves tells the tale of the reformation in a gripping and engaging manner, with plenty of lighthearted asides, and even a few laugh out loud moments. He is no doubt himself captured by the heart of the reformation, that is, justification by faith alone, and does a fine job sharing the story of its rediscovery in Europe.

I feel that while many Chri
Jan 22, 2016 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This will be the first book I recommend when asked for titles on the Reformation. Superbly written, it is of sufficient depth to capture the importance of the subject, but not overly so as to drown the reader in details and miss the glory of what God did (and is still doing).
Dec 19, 2014 Jb rated it it was amazing
Great Read, Inspiring Content

Wonderful survey of the people, doctrines, and culture surrounding the Reformation. Would recommend this to anyone who is the least bit interested in history, no especially to fellow Christians!
Bill Brinkley
Jan 07, 2016 Bill Brinkley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a very interesting read. It is an overview of the Reformation. It is an engaging book and I found the author's sense of humor very refreshing. I recommend this book to any interested in history.
Sep 06, 2015 Justin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This quick overview of the Reformation has high energy, plenty of wit, and a very readable prose. I couldn't put it down, and I don't typically expect church histories to be page-turners.
Dennis Bills
Oct 30, 2015 Dennis Bills rated it it was amazing
Fast,interesting, easy-to-read overview of before, during, and after the Reformation. Excellent snapshot that puts treasured doctrines into historical context. Highly recommend.
Apr 24, 2016 Binsy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Reformation story very well told !! It's concise and a page turner. Erasmus laid the coals, Martin Luther kindled the fire, Zwingli , Calvin and Knox spread the fire to Europe.
The book also tells us how Protestanism branched out. The reader gets a brief peek into the origin of Anabaptists, Calvinism, Puritans.
Heroes of God too have their flaws and Michael Reeves has laid them out open to us. God uses people and circumstances to fulfil His promises and plans in His timeline.
Recommended to a
Scott Volmer
Great overview of the Reformation and easy-to-read biographies on several key Reformers. A good book to give to Christians new to the Reformed tradition.
Al Garlando
Jul 09, 2012 Al Garlando rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's short & easy to read. It covers both history and key points of difference between the Reformers and the Roman Catholic Church. It's very accessible, yet as you are reading about the lives of those involved you're learning the gospel.
I'm going to recommend it in my Church as a way to introduce and teach people about Reformation History.
It will be a great little add-on to an October Reformation Day Church service.
Reading something like this would be a good way to whet the appetite for som
Michael Chhangur
I like everything I've read by Reeves. Brief and for a popular audience.
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He is also theological advisor for Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF), a charity supporting evangelism in higher education throughout the United Kingdom. He was previously associate minister at All Souls Church, Langham Place and holds a doctorate in systematic theology from King’s College London.
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“Sibbes sought to draw his audience’s eyes from their own hearts to the Saviour, for ‘there are heights, and depths, and breadths of mercy in him above all the depths of our sin and misery’. How so? Because, since ‘God’s love resteth on Christ, as well pleased in him, we may gather that he is as well pleased with us, if we be in Christ!’ Thus Christian confidence in our spiritual state rests not on our strength of faith or performance, but upon ‘the joint agreement of all three persons of the Trinity’, that the Father loves the Son, and it is in the Son’s merits, and not our own, that Christians are loved. Because God is a loving community, Christians can be confident. Then, instead of simply laying moral burdens on young and struggling Christians, Sibbes showed them Christ’s attractiveness so that they might love him from the heart. From then, the Christian’s first task is ‘to warm ourselves at this fire of his love and mercy in giving himself for us’. Only when Christians do that do they truly stop sinning from the heart (whereas when they merely alter their behaviour it does nothing for the sin of the heart). In other words, Sibbes believed that the solution to sin is not the attempt to live without sin, but the gospel of God’s free grace.” 0 likes
“Calvin wrote to a friend, ‘The Lord has certainly inflicted a severe and bitter wound in the death of our baby son. But he is himself a Father and knows best what is good for his children.” 0 likes
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