Book Review: A Puritan Theology

By Raynard Sims

A Puritan TheologyJohn Bunyan writes in his book “The Pilgrims Progress”, “I am from the City of Destruction, and am going to Mount Zion.”  This quote seems to best sum up what marked the Puritans – their extreme focus on the Word of God in light of an eternity with Christ.

The Puritans were largely considered to be a part of the movement of Reformed orthodoxy, not associated with Lutheranism. The book seeks to cover the English Puritans around 1560 who were seeking reformation from the Church of England.

The book covers a systematic understanding of the Bible from the viewpoint of the Puritans. The book is not set up to expound on a topic in the basic sense, but rather will cover what a specific, or group, of Puritans said about a certain topic. Thus, this book will not replace a systematic theology work of Grudem or Horton but will rather supplement it.

The book is divided into the following eight sections with a final conclusion:

Prolegomena; Theology Proper; Anthropology and Covenant; Theology;  Christology; Soteriology; Eccelesiology; Eschatology; Theology in Practice;  Afterword

Many people have asked the question, “Why should I read or study thePuritans?”. While it is a valid question, there are a number of good reasons to read (or slowly work through) this book. Not only does this book give a comprehensive overview of the various Puritan theologians (saving you from having to read their vast number of works) but it highlights what is distinctive of the Puritan tradition and theology. The authors and contributors have spent countless hours tracing out the Christologically shaped theology, drawing our attention to that which is beneficial and edifying for reader, but has also alluded to some doctrines that were wrongly interpreted and formulated by the Puritans.

It has been suggested recently to begin reading this work by starting with the penultimate chapter (Theology in Practice) before returning to the beginning ( book-with-me). This section is probably the most pastoral and definitely the most practical and challenging section of the book. The authors start by commenting how many Christians affirm Calvinism and preach the doctrines of grace but fail to live according to the standards they profess. The authors continue to highlight how much of the teaching of the Puritans were implemented in their lives and how it should possibly be incorporated in our own lives.

The various authors and contributors of “A Puritan Theology” have done an amazing work to cover the vast number of systematic topic both in width and in depth. This work will continue to be the standard for all in-depth reading and word on the Puritans for a long time to come. “A Puritan Theology” will be a worthwhile read for all who can endure the page count.

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