Diarmaid MacCULLOCH, All Things Made New: The Reformation and Its Legacy.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. 452 pp., $29.95 hardcover. ISBN: 978-0-19-061681-6. Reviewed by Steve W. LEMKE, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, LA  70126.


  Diarmaid MacCulloch is an acclaimed scholar who serves as Professor of the History of the Church at St. Cross College of Oxford University. His previous publications have earned him a number of prestigious awards, including the publication of his Gifford Lectures, and he has been honored as a knight of the United Kingdom.

The title of this volume is a misnomer in that it suggests a broad survey of the Reformation. Some of MacCulloch’s publications (The Reformation: A History and Christianity: the First Three Thousand Years) do address that broader subject, but this text does not. All Things Made New is rather narrowly focused on the Reformation in the United Kingdom, particularly the evolution of the Anglican Church. MacCulloch notes in his Preface that he would be “offended to be described as an Anglican historian – rather than as a historian who is also an Anglican,” (p. xii), but this text is rather myopically focused on Anglican history.

With that caveat, All Things Made New is a rich and detailed survey of Anglican Church and British history. MacCulloch’s abundant knowledge of the topic, matched with his excellent skills in biography and storytelling, make this a readable and interesting volume rather than merely a dusty history. MacCulloch zeroes in particularly on the roles of Henry VIII, Thomas Cranmer, and Richard Hooker played in the development of Anglicanism, but he weaves the involvement of hundreds of scholars, churchmen, and national leaders into his account to enrich the telling of the Anglican story. He details the development and popularity of various prayer books and hymnals, as well as changing views of the Eucharist. His knowledge and analysis of these key thinkers even goes so far as describing the theological or political implications of the illustrative plates used in their works or biographies. This work is a valuable and compelling account of the evolution of the Anglican tradition.

MacCulloch casts Anglicanism as a middle way between Catholicism, on the one hand, and the classic Reformation traditions (Calvinism, Lutheranism, and Dissenters) on the other hand. Unfortunately, MacCulloch comes across as being one-sided at points in defending Anglicanism, glossing over the occasional bloodbaths brought about by the British kings, queens, or bishops in the name of the church, while harshly criticizing Roman Catholics for their similar Inquisition in Italy (pp. 78-84). MacCulloch consistently describes Anabaptists as “radicals” and “heretics,” focusing on the radical chiliasts who led the Mϋnster Rebellion and a few outliers who held heretical views regarding the Trinity. However, MacCulloch ignores the mainstream theologians of the Anabaptist, Separatist, and Mennonite communities who equally condemned these extreme positions. The work of Thomas Cromwell and the Puritans as a whole receive scant attention as “nonconformists.” MacCulloch never laments or condemns, and thus appears to tolerate, the quashing of religious liberty in the name of enforced unity in the Anglican Church.

            These weaknesses aside, All Things Made New is a historical tale well told. It affords details about the English Reformation that reflect MacCulloch’s profound expertise on this subject. Recommended.