Make a list of all the blessings the Protestant Reformation has brought, and eventually—long after jotting down iconic phrases like “salvation by grace alone through faith alone”—you’ll get around to the CT Book Awards.
Books, of course, had existed long before Luther posted his 95 Theses. But there’s no denying that reading and the Reformation, with a vital assist from Gutenberg’s printing press, soared together.
“The Reformation could not have occurred as it did without print,” writes historian Andrew Pettegree in his book, Brand Luther. “Print propelled Martin Luther, a man who had published nothing in the first 30 years of his life, to instant celebrity. It was his genius to grasp an opportunity that had scarcely existed before he invented a new way to converse through books. In the process he changed Western religion and European society forever.”
Reading helped fuel the Reformation, and in turn, the Reformation helped fuel the spread of reading.
Pettegree again: “Wittenberg, a town that had no printing at all before 1500, would become a powerhouse of the new industry, trading exclusively on the fame of its celebrity professor. And Wittenberg was not an isolated case. In many medium-sized and small German towns, the Reformation galvanized an industry that had withered after the first flush of over-exuberant experimentation.”
As we mark the anniversary of the 95 Theses next year (make sure to see CT’s Reformation-themed January/February issue), our spiritual and theological debts to Luther are obvious. But it’s worth remembering, too, how Luther’s prolific pen and publishing genius helped mold evangelicals into a “people of the book,” in more ways than one.
These awards are just one small way of keeping that legacy alive. —Matt Reynolds, associate editor, books
Apologetics / Evangelism
Timothy Keller (Viking)
“Making Sense of God is not a parade of logical evidence for God, but rather a profound reflection on the existential realities of being human. Keller asks, simply, “Is the secular view of the world capable of making sense of the things secularists themselves properly value: freedom, individuality, justice, community, rationality, personal meaning, human rights?” His answer is a convincing no. Not only does Christianity make rational sense, Keller argues, but it also does justice to the totality of human experience. His points are gracefully presented and delivered without a hint of overstatement or triumphalism.” —Gregory Koukl, founder and president, Stand to Reason
Award of Merit
Michael Rota (IVP Academic)
“Rota, a skilled analytic philosopher, provides an engaging and compelling case for taking Pascal’s wager. The precision of the points is manifest on every page. But what makes the book even more profitable is its accessible prose. Inviting, charitable, and provocative—this is the sort of book that one could heartily give to a believer, agnostic, or even an ardent atheist. A home-run for Christian apologetics.” —Chad Meister, professor of philosophy and theology, Bethel College (Indiana)
(Michael Rota wrote about Pascal’s Wager in the May 2016 issue of CT.)
Richard Hays (Baylor University Press)