This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Any discussion on the Reformation will likely bring up names like Martin Luther and John Calvin. And rightfully so. These men had a great impact on church history. Yet, what lacks in most discussions on the Reformation is a recognition of the women who lived then and made an impact during their lifetime. Some may fear to uphold women’s contributions during the Reformation might blur the complementarian view given in Scripture, that is men and women are equal in dignity and worth but they are distinct in roles, men entrusted with the responsibility of servant leadership and women given the call to help and submit. However, I find those fears unwarranted. As men and women’s distinct roles are meant to complement one another, I believe men and women’s contributions in the Reformation complemented each other as well. Rebecca VanDoodewaard believes this to be the case too, as evidenced by her new release Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity’s Rebirth. In this updated text of James I. Good’s Famous Women of the Reformed Church, VanDoodewaard introduces us to fairly unknown women of the Reformed faith who committed their lives to the cause of the Reformation.
In this revised and expanded work, VanDooewaard sketches twelve biographies of these Reformation women. Each of the women in the book come from different backgrounds but a mutual love for God and His Word, a care for people, particularly the hurting, Protestant refugees, and children are found in each. These women were hospitable, opening their homes to many. They also faced many hardships, whether they feared for their husbands during a dangerous time of ministry or struggled with the pain of losing children to death. Above all, these two women, while not well-known, knew the cost the Reformation brought with it against the Roman Catholic church. These Reformation women stood firm in their commitment to Jesus Christ and the Scriptures. They held to the truth we are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, and the Scriptures alone, as the Word of God, are our ultimate authority.
The stories of such women are, as the author says, “an essential element in church history” (ix). While all made unique contributions, the women are an example of faithfulness to the Lord, His Word, and His church. Reformation Women by Rebecca VanDooewaard will introduce you to women of the Word who fought for the truth of the Word and can give us the courage to fight for that same truth today!
I received this book for free from Reformation Heritage Books via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.