Book Review: The Astronomer and Out of the Flames

This month, I have enjoyed reading the works of Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. They write books on historical events with a touch of fiction. The first book I read was The Astronomer by Lawrence Goldstone and the second was Out of the Flames by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. Both of these books take place during the Reformation. The authors discuss some of my favorite people in that time such as Marguerite de Navarre, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Philipp Melanchthon, and Michael Servetus. Lawrence Goldstone added “The Astronomer” onto my list, but I will not say who he is just in case you read the book!

astronomerThe Astronomer is about Amaury, a spy for the French Inquisition during the Lutheran movement in France. It is full of intrigue with twists and turns during his adventure through France. He meets Marguerite de Navarre and John Calvin. He searches for the killer of his friend. He then gets caught up in the massacre of the Lutherans in France. It holds your attention.

out-flamesOut of the Flames is based on the history of Michael Servetus’ book Christianismi Restitutio. Lawrence and Nancy start their book giving the history and background of the period. They discuss the relationship between France, The Holy Roman Empire, and the Pope. This book expands more on the role Marguerite de Navarre played in the Protestant movement in France and why that movement ended with over zealot ministers. Hint: If you do not want all your people killed, do not put your manifesto on the King’s Bed chamber door!

The main focus of Out of the Flames is the struggle between Michael Servetus and John Calvin. The authors present the point that, Michael Servetus is the father of the Unitarian movement and was responsible for mapping the human body’s circulation system. John Calvin is portrayed as one of the leaders of the Protestant movement. Michael Servetus is the only man John Calvin has executed for heresy. Calvin ordered all of Servetus’ books burned. Calvin will also mentions Michael Servetus in the Institutes of Christian Religion. Christianismi Restitutio is Servetus response to Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion. There are three known copies of Christianismi Restitutio that have survived to us today.

Both of these books help me see what happens when we go too far in our ministry. The arguing we do on who is right and who is wrong. Think how you would feel accused if you were accused of heresy and all your emails and letters are sitting on the table. We never realize how far human nature will go to destroy another. I love these books and gladly recommend them to you. I am looking forward to the next book by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone coming out in June 2015 on Marguerite de Navarre.