The image of the Puritans as dour, legalistic killjoys is a caricature that does not line up with the experience of actually reading the Puritans, to say nothing of the historical record. In the new volume on Puritan Reformed Theology, Joel R. Beeke adds to his growing body of evidence setting the record straight about Puritanism.
Beeke, Joel R. Puritan Reformed Theology: Historical, Experiential, and Practical Studies for the Whole of Life. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2020. 752 pp. $45.00.
Biographical Sketch of the Author
Joel R. Beeke is the president and professor of systematic theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. His other books include Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption, and Parenting by God’s Promises: How to Raise Children in the Covenant of Grace.
We hope that by now, most readers of Things Above Us know that the image of the Puritans as dour, legalistic killjoys is a caricature that does not line up with the experience of actually reading the Puritans, to say nothing of the historical record. In the new volume on Puritan Reformed Theology, Joel R. Beeke adds to his growing body of evidence setting the record straight about Puritanism. Beeke, one of the foremost authorities on the Puritans, originally published the contents of this book as a series of articles in the first ten years of the Puritan Reformed Journal (ix).
The book is made up of 41 chapters divided across six parts. As the subtitle reveals, the parts of the book include categories like Historical Theology, Experiential Theology, and Pastoral Theology. In addition, the topics of Systematic Theology, Pastoral Theology and Missions, and Contemporary and Cultural Issues are addressed. There is a standard Subject Index, but unfortunately no Scripture Index.
I was pleased to see the doctrine of adoption appear several times in this volume. Beeke examines adoption from a trinitarian perspective in the Biblical Studies section under chapter three’s “Our Glorious Adoption.” The author calls on believers to meditate on the wonders of being an adopted son of God (37–38). He moves on to the gracious character of God’s adoption of sinners (39–41), rightly pointing out that no one is by nature a child of God (40). As Scripture says, we are by nature children of wrath (cf. Ephesians 2:3). We require the propitiation accomplished by God the Son.
Beeke unpacks the trinitarian nature of adoption as God the Father electing and calling sinners to Himself; the Son’s perfect obedience, death, burial, and resurrection accomplishes and provides the privileges and blessings of sonship to believers; and the Spirit regenerating and transforming those children of wrath into children of God. Citing 1 John 2:29, the author connects regeneration and adoption. The adopted child of God is given a new status and a new nature. Beeke writes, “The biblical doctrine of adoption is central to a proper understanding of every major area of the Christian’s life (41).” He goes on to expound the ways that adoption transforms believers’ relationships to God, the world, the future, themselves, and the family of God (42–47).