By Matthew Barrett—
Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones. A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012.
Joel Beeke and Mark Jones have written a massive systematic theology and summary of Puritan theology. If you are a Puritan junkie or have never read the Puritans but want to start, here is a resource for you. A little about the authors: Joel Beeke is President and Professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mark Jones is the minister of Faith Presbyterian Church, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), in Vancouver, British Columbia.
To begin with, here is the book’s description:
A Puritan Theology offers a groundbreaking treatment of the Puritans’ teaching on most major Reformed doctrines, particularly those doctrines in which the Puritans made significant contributions. Since the late 1950s, nearly 150 Puritan authors and 700 Puritan titles have been reprinted and catalogued by Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson in their 2006 collection of mini-biographies and book reviews, titled, Meet the Puritans. However, no work until now has gathered together the threads of their teaching into a unified tapestry of systematic theology.
A Puritan Theology addresses Puritan teachings on all six loci of theology, covering fifty areas of doctrine. The book explores Puritan teachings on biblical interpretation, God, predestination, providence, angels, sin, the covenants, the gospel, Christ, preparation for conversion, regeneration, coming to Christ, justification, adoption, church government, the Sabbath, preaching, baptism, heaven, hell, and many other topics. It ends with eight chapters that explore Puritan ‘theology in practice.’ Some chapters highlight the work of a specific theologian such as William Perkins, William Ames, John Owen, Stephen Charnock, or Thomas Goodwin on a specific topic. Other chapters survey various authors on a particular subject.
The goal of A Puritan Theology is to increase knowledge in the mind and godliness in the soul. It was written for theologians, historians, pastors, and educated laymen who seek to learn more about Puritan theology.
You can read a sample chapter here. And here is the Table of Contents:
Finally, here are some noteworthy endorsements:
“[These] one thousand pages and more than half a million words . . . constitute the largest and most comprehensive exposition to date on the theology of the English Puritans. It is a remarkable achievement. . . . There are too many outstanding features of this volume to list them adequately. The sheer range of theology covered—each locus in the theological encyclopedia is touched on—is breathtaking; the focus of attention on some of the most significant thinkers, preachers, and writers (who were men who, to a remarkable degree, combined all three) is profoundly impressive. These pages are not replete with complexities and obscurities. Nor are they light reading. . . . But if you share the concern of the Puritans to think biblically in order to live to the glory of God, these pages will prove to be a goldmine.”
—From the foreword by Sinclair Ferguson
“Without a doubt, this will be an indispensable guidebook to Puritan thought and practice for years to come.”
—Michael A. G. Haykin
“For more than half a century primary research on Puritan theologians and their teaching has been in full swing. Here now is a massive compendium of the findings, digested into sixty lively chapters. The authors’ expository skill will keep readers on their toes, and the Puritans’ own concern for godly living, which runs through everything, will send readers to their knees. This is a landmark book in every way.”
—J. I. Packer
“Joel Beeke’s and Mark Jones’s work marks a major milestone in the study of Puritan and early modern Reformed theology, setting forth in modern scholarly essays an examination of a full body of seventeenth-century divinity. The work evidences a significant understanding of the primary texts and an excellent grasp of the secondary literature, both providing a sound introduction to Puritan theology and setting aside the myths of a rigid, rationalistic, monolithic system of thought divorced from Christian life. Perhaps the most consistent and unifying theme in the book is the profound connection between faith and practice that, for the Puritans and other early modern Reformed, grounded the exposition of all doctrine. A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life will provide a starting point for further study of Puritan thought for years to come.”
—Richard A. Muller
“The Puritans are undoubtedly one of the most significant sources for theology that is both doctrinal and practical in equal measure. This massive volume by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones provides the reader with a comprehensive introduction to Puritan thought. It is a notable work of historical-theological synthesis and a book to which I will be returning again and again, both for scholarly reference and personal devotion. Simply an amazing achievement.”
—Carl R. Trueman
“There are great modern editions of many Puritan classics, anthologies collecting their quotes on various subjects, and myriad studies of the movement. So it’s a little surprising that a Puritan systematic theology like this one has never been written. I’m just glad that it has been, and by two scholar-pastors whose familiarity with the primary and secondary sources is unsurpassed. I couldn’t put it down and will return to it again and again. It is an ambitious undertaking, but the authors’ pain is our gain. This will be an enduring reference work as well as devotional resource.”
Matthew Barrett (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University (OPS). He is also the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine. Barrett has contributed book reviews and articles to various academic journals, and he is the editor of Whomever He Wills: A Surprising Display of Sovereign Mercy, as well as the author of several other forthcoming books. He is married to Elizabeth and they have two daughters, Cassandra and Georgia.