I have to say, with slight embarrassment, that I have had this book in my possession for about four years and it is only now that I am unfolding the pages. Having to, first, blow the heavy build up of dust off the front cover I opened the the book resting my focus on the pages that met my tired eyes around 1am last night.
In truth, I opened this book because tiredness had escaped me. I had fallen into one of those terrible nights where sleep seemed to have evaded me. I picked up this book to knock me out into a pleasantly desired deep sleep. It had a polar effect on my sleep. I couldn’t put the pages down.
The first paragraph of the book is as follows.
“The trumpets blared as the covered wagons passed through the city gate. Thousands lined the streets to catch a glimpse of their hero, many more waving pictures of him from windows and roof tops. It was the evening of Wednesday 16 April 1521, and Martin Luther was entering the city of Worms.”
I have to admit that I am a little nerdy when it comes to church history. I get excited reading about it. But what challenges my fascination of church history is the normal dry and boring explorations of it by men with white beards and posh accents. Mike Reeves only has one of these, so he is doing well already.
What got me hooked to this book was the flow of how it is written. It is more of a story than a boring historical narrative. You really get to know the characters, such as Jan Hus and Wycliffe. We get to see what they believed, and what they were prepared to do about it. Jan Hus is a personal favourite of mine, having looked at him during my history degree. Inspired by Wycliffe’s teachings, Reeves describes Hus as such.
“Hus did not quite have Wycliffe’s penetrating intellect, but he came to be at least as significant playing the role of Wycliffe’s bulldog.”
Hus was an outspoken man for the gospel. He refused to recant what he had spoken and taught and was condemned to death for speaking out for Jesus to the very group of people who were meant to be representing Christ!
There is also a comicesque tone to the whole book. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. The back cover describes “burning pyres, nuns on the run, stirring courage, comic relief: the story of the Protestant reformation.” The reformation was exciting and this book reflects that. But it takes Jesus seriously. While the book is themed around the reformation, the book has Jesus at the centre. What more would you expect from Mike Reeves.