Book Review – The Unfinished Reformation

Book Review – The Unfinished Reformation

The Reformation has been going for 500 years now and many are asking the same question, is it over? Gregg Allison and Chris Castaldo attempt to answer this question though their work in The Unfinished Reformation. By doing so, they provide a unique perspective into the doctrines of both Catholicism and Evangelicalism. The Unfinished Reformation begins with a brief overview on what led to the division between Protestants and Catholics – the Reformation. These issues still carry into today’s divisions. The authors write, “We might boil it down to two fundamental decisions – the first one concerns authority and the second involves salvation.” (34)

Upon giving a proper understanding of what led to the Reformation, Allison and Castaldo turn their attention to what unifies the two distinct groups today. This segment may seem overly kind to some readers, but it is vastly important to understand how close the two groups are in much of their teachings. After all, this is why so many today are confused and assume both groups are in the same religious camp of Christianity. Protestants do not need to be militant regarding their differences with Catholics rather Protestants should be intentional. As Allison and Castado state,  ..being intentional doesn’t mean we are adversarial or crotchety. In our engagement with Catholic friends and loved ones, we wish to convey the fragrance of Christ – peaceable gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, sincere, full of grace and truth.” (152)

Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of this book is the clear and concise explanations on the issues that continue to divide the two groups. While there is much agreement on major issues, there are still plenty of unanswered criticisms that go all the way back to Luther’s 95 Theses. Allison and Castaldo masterfully lay out these distinctions while displaying the core tenant of Protestantism – Sola Scriptura. They detail each one of these dividing doctrines, giving proper representation to both sides of the debate. Indeed this section composes the largest section of this book. Although more attention could have been given to the doctrine of purgatory. 

Overall, this book is a very helpful summary on the relationship between Catholics and Protestants. Allison and Castaldo are able to leave their biases at the door and discuss the issues with clarity and intelligence while communicating both sides’ perspectives fairly. This book is accessible for all Christians, not just pastors, but any interested parties will be benefited from reading this indispensable work. 

Purchase The Unfinished Reformation here. 

– Dean