Review: Ideas that Changed the World

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It can’t have failed to get your notice that this year we celebrate the 500th anniversary of what is widely considered to be the beginning of the Reformation (with every respect to Wyclif, Hus, Zwingli etc.); the nailing of Luther’s 95 Theses to the door of the church at Wittenburg.

The question for many churches this year will be how to mark this milestone. Perhaps like us you’ll be having a series of sermons either spread across the year or in one hit in October. Maybe you’ll be screening films or documentaries.

Well you couldn’t go far wrong by taking your church’s small groups through Ideas that Changed the World.

Around 500 years ago a momentous change was spreading across Europe—a change that has become known as the Reformation.

At the heart of the Reformation were four ideas and four leaders. The ideas: faith alone, grace alone, Bible alone and Christ alone. The leaders: Luther, Calvin, Tyndale and Cranmer.

In the four sessions of this course, join Dominic Steele as he explores these four simple yet profoundly important ideas, the key role these four men played in rediscovering and spreading them, and the stunning European locations where these historic events took place.

But it’s not just a course to watch. You’ll also open up your Bibles and do some exploring of your own, reading the same parts of Scripture that Luther, Calvin, Tyndale and Cranmer read that radically changed their world.

I’ve had the privilege of working through a review copy over the past few weeks and I can report that it’s a great course. The interaction of video and Bible study works really well. Dominic Steele has gathered a cracking set of experts to guide us through the key historical events and, even more importantly, the key theological issues that were being addressed. The 26 page booklet that guides the small groups does exactly the same thing, setting up the historical context but then driving your participants into the Bible to discuss the underlying theology.

This isn’t so much a history course as a historical theology course with the emphasis on history teaching us theology. The video components in each week are well structured with three shorter clips that are used as the basis of three complementary sets of questions in the book.

One nice feature of the course is getting different individuals to read some of the citations from key historical figures. Regulars at might recognise one of the contributors…

That was a lot of fun.

Ideas that Changed the World is a great course, pitched at the right level to help us learn both the historical background and the theological imperatives that produced the Reformation.

You can purchase from Matthias Media (or in the US from here). The videos are also available to purchase and stream from Vimeo (although you really will want to buy the booklets too) and the entire course is also part of Matthias Media’s subscription service, GoThereFor.

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