November 29th, 2008
Beeke, Joel R. Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008. 134 pp. $13.00. Purchase at Westminster Books.
Dr. Joel R. Beeke is renowned for his writings on Puritan theology. He has written, edited, or co-authored over fifty books including Meet the Puritans, Reformation Heroes, Striving Against Satan, and Living for God’s Glory (my review is forthcoming). He serves as president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, the editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, and vice president of the Dutch Reformed Translation Society which is all located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His PhD is in Reformation and post-Reformation History from Westminster Theological Seminary.
Obviously, Dr. Beeke is well-versed in Puritan theology and this book does not disappoint. Justin Taylor states it best in his blurb on the back: “In this short but spiritually substantive book…” What he lacks in length he makes up for with content and depth.
Summary of Heirs with Christ
The book was written as an apologetic for the Puritans and their writings on adoption. Many, thanks in part to J.I. Packer’s Knowing God, believe that the Puritans never dealt with the doctrine of adoption. Beeke spends the entire book showing that this is not the case and that the doctrine of adoption was foundational too much of their thinking.
Beeke first shows the comprehensiveness of adoption and its impact on soteriology (matters of salvation) and the Christian faith in general. He then states explicitly what adoption is not—regeneration, justification, and sanctification—and how you cannot have one without the other but they must be differentiated.
The chapters on the transforming power of, the transformed relationships in, and the privileges and benefits of adoption leave one breathless and wanting to plumb the deeps of the Puritan minds. Along the way throughout the book, Beeke offers a sneak peek into the thinking behind the Westminster Assembly Confession as well as adoption in both testaments of the Bible.
Beeke does a wonderful job of sticking to his thesis that the Puritans wrote extensively on the doctrine of adoption. As one reads Heirs with Christ, he feels as though he is part of a documentary. Dr. Beeke strives to let the Puritans speak in their own words. He merely provides guidance as we peer back in time and see how the Puritans emphasized the doctrine of adoption and how it was foundational too much of their teachings.
If you are a believer in Christ, then you need to read this book. To see the richness and glory of being adopted by God into His Family will have you shouting “Amen!” To be completely honest, the footnotes and the bibliography are worth the price of the book. Personally, I found the introduction to Cotton Mather (chapter nine) to be worth the read! Having only heard of him in passing, I was not prepared for his pastoral writings and the blessing they would be to my soul.
This book certainly deserves to be read over and over. For those who struggle with assurance—and many do—they can read about their adoption into the family of Christ and rejoice to know that their assurance rests solely on God and not themselves. What a joy to realize that all over again “for the first time.”