Book Reviews

INTRODUCTION TO PURITAN THEOLOGY, A READER; Edited by Edward Hindson, Baker Book House, 1976; 282 pp., $8.95. 

Especially for the majority of the readers of theStandard Bearer, most of whom have little acquaintance with the Puritans, this is an extremely worthwhile book. It is intended to be an introduction to Puritan writings and Puritan thought. J.I. Packer, who writes the foreword, explains the importance of re-studying Puritan thought in our days:

We evangelicals need help. Where the Puritans called for order, discipline, depth, and thoroughness, our temper is one of casual haphazardness and restless impatience. We crave for stunts, novelties, entertainments; we have lost our taste for solid study, humble self-examination, disciplined meditation, and unspectacular hard work in our callings and in our prayers. Again, where Puritanism had God and His glory as its unifying center, our thinking revolves round ourselves as if we were the hub of the universe. The hollowness of our vaunted biblicism becomes apparent as again and again we put asunder things God has joined. . . . Truly, we need help, and the Puritan tradition can give it.

The editor has chosen subjects from each of the six loci of Dogmatics and has included an article on each of these subjects from different Puritan authors. Thus we have John Preston on natural theology, John Jewel on Scripture, Stephen Charnock on God, Thomas Manton on sin, James Ussher on Christ, John Owen on the atonement, Samuel Hopkins on regeneration, George Downame on justification, John Bunyan on sanctification, Richard Baxter on the church, and Jonathan Edwards on eschatology. 

There are added features: a rather lengthy introduction which explains Puritan piety and doctrine; biographical sketches and pictures of the Puritan authors, a valuable bibliography for those who wish to read further in Puritan writings, an index to all Scriptural references, and a chart of “the golden chain of salvation” prepared by the Puritan William Perkins (according to which Perkins was a supralapsarian). 

We whose background is primarily Dutch Reformed have very little acquaintance with the Puritans. Presbyterians generally know the Puritans far better. It is, however, our loss that we do not know and have never made the acquaintance of the Puritans. I highly recommend this book, and hope that those of our readers who purchase it and read it will be persuaded that the Puritans are worthy of further study.