D. G. Hart
Reviewed by: Tyler D. Gaastra
Date posted: 06/16/2019
Still Protesting: Why the Reformation Matters, by D. G. Hart. Reformation Heritage Books, 2018. Paperback, 207 pages, $14.00. Reviewed by OP member Tyler D. Gaastra.
Is the Roman church the only proper home for Christians who are intellectually serious? Is the Roman church the only sure bastion of orthodoxy on questions moral and ethical? Aren’t Protestants responsible for hopeless divisions within the church?
D. G. Hart, who needs no introduction in these pages, hammers an emphatic “no” to these questions and shows his work in his timely book Still Protesting: Why the Reformation Matters.
Still Protesting “is about the real and abiding strengths of the Protestant Reformation as a critique of the Western church five centuries ago. Despite dramatic changes within the ecclesiastical landscape, the status of human beings before a holy and righteous God and the message of the gospel as explained by the Reformers remain the same” (9).
For confessional Protestants, the opening chapters remind us of the enduring importance of the gospel message that was recovered by our forebears, and the later, polemical chapters provide us with rebuttals to the common critiques of the Reformation specifically and Protestantism in general.
This is the book I needed to read some years ago as a confused college student on the campus of a progressive-friendly, Christian liberal arts university. At the time, my favorite professors were members of the Roman church or were heading in that direction. It seemed to me that Rome was the only alternative to the activism and flippant doctrine of evangelicalism.
From the outside, Roman liturgy, art, and religious practice appear to be more serious and spiritual than the liturgy and practice in some Protestant churches. But, as Hart shows, Rome is full of its own errors, and one can’t sit in awe of its architecture without noticing the “kitsch,” all of the candles and home decorations. The ordinary means of grace and the solemn invocation that “our help is in the name of the Lord” are exceedingly more helpful than statues and paintings, which only keep us from true worship of the irreducible God. The worship of confessional churches is biblical, simple, necessary, and sufficient.
In a helpful chapter entitled “What If at Vatican II Rome Abandoned Being the Church Jesus Founded?” Hart highlights the disparate trends that are present in the post-Vatican II church. In many respects, Rome and mainline Protestant denominations are following the same trajectory of theological chaos and liturgical experimentation. The modern Roman church is not the same one claimed by Augustine or Aquinas, let alone the one Jesus founded.
Intended for a general audience, Still Protesting is the book to give to those friends and family members who are tempted to climb the cathedral steps. It is also a fitting read as we remember the milestones of Protestantism, from Wittenberg to Dordrecht. The Reformation still matters because God is still God, and we must give him the glory.