December 6th, 2008
Beeke, Joel R. Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism. Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2008. 416 pp. $24.00. Buy at t Westminster Bookstore.
With his usual flair for meticulous research, Dr. Joel R. Beeke has written a masterpiece in Living for God’s Glory. The book was written for those who are interested in the basics of Calvinism in a simple, non-technical, yet scholarly style. Dr. Beeke sought contributions from eight other writers for ten of the twenty-eight chapters. Some of those contributors are Michael A.G. Haykin, Ray Pennings, and Sinclair B. Ferguson.
This book serves two purposes. First, it is a resource book that will be referenced quite often in a young, Reformed, Christian’s life. There is so much in this book that involves Calvinism as a lifestyle that it will need to be drank from slowly as if allowing it to soak in over time. Second, this book is a theology book that will be read over and over as one wrestles with (or against) the impact these beloved doctrines that have come to be known as Calvinism.
Dr. Beeke does a wonderful job of laying out the central tenants of biblical Calvinism while at the same time answering the common (and not so common) objections to these doctrines. The chapters on what we now call the T.U.L.I.P. does much to dispel the many mischaracterizations of Calvinism while showing the historic, and more importantly, biblical evidences. His chapters on sanctification are much needed today and should be mandatory reading for all believers.
Perhaps the one glaring problem with the book is found early on page six where Dr. Beeke explains the spread of the Reformed faith. In that section, he mentions that “the terms Reformed and Calvinism became virtually synonymous” (p.6). He continues to use “Reformed” throughout most of the chapter but jettisons that word for “Calvinism” throughout the rest of the book. I would have rather seen a more detailed explanation for the use of Calvinism instead of Reformed than that the two words “became virtually synonymous.” How and why did they become synonymous?
If you are among those who hold to Reformed theology, this book is a must own. It would be the perfect resource for those young Calvinists who are in the “cage-stage” because it shows what exactly these glorious doctrines entail and just how far-reaching they are in one’s life. If you are not a Calvinist but have wondered what exactly Calvinism is (i.e., without all of the assumptions and misunderstandings), then I would highly recommend this book. Dr. Beeke does a great job of not “shoving these doctrines down your throat” as some have claimed Calvinists do. Rather, he meticulously charts the historical understanding and how they impacted those who believed in them. More importantly, he explains how these doctrines should impact everything about your life.