Joel R. Beeke and Michael Reeves
Reviewed by: Carl A. P. Durham
Following God Fully: An Introduction to the Puritans, by Joel R. Beeke and Michael Reeves. Reformation Heritage, 2022. Hardcover, 168 pages, $15.00. Reviewed by OP pastor Carl A. P. Durham.
In touring Yellowstone National Park, where the typical auto-tour only touches 5 percent of the park’s landmass, it is invaluable to have an experienced guide, an authority on the history and meaning of that special place. In their book, Following God Fully: An Introduction to the Puritans, Joel Beeke and Michael Reeves successfully guide our tour through the massive work of the Puritans. Beginning with a concise history of the period of the Puritans’ rise, Beeke and Reeves then convey many of their signal contributions as they summarize the lives of nine of the movement’s founders.
Especially valuable is the section on “The Triune God and His Saving Work.” Here we grasp the depth of devotional theology that is the hallmark of the Puritans, and there is no better example to choose from than John Owen’s second volume, Communion with God. Most helpful is the way the authors trace the source of our worship of our triune God to the Father’s love, the Son’s grace, and the Spirit’s comforting fellowship. Of course, each member of the godhead fully possesses love, grace, and the power to comfort us in our sufferings. But there is an element to worship of each member of the Trinity that is tied to each person’s unique contribution to the work of our salvation. Just as Paul highlights the Father, Son, and Spirit in 2 Corinthians 13:14, so does Owen in a powerful description of our fellowship with the triune God:
The emanation of divine love to us begins with the Father, is carried on by the Son, and then communicated by the Spirit; the Father designing, the Son purchasing, the Spirit effectually working: which is their order. Our participation is first by the work of the Spirit, to an actual interest in the blood of the Son; whence we have acceptation with the Father. (45)
This little book now lays forth something of the glorious role of each member of the Trinity in Puritan theology. By sovereign, predestinating love, the Father rules all in creation and providence. By effective, purchasing grace, the Son reveals the Father in love to us and effectively intercedes for us. He is the object of our faith and the priest whose compassion pities us in all our sins and trials. By effectively pouring out the graces of communion with the Father and the Son, the Spirit comforts and strengthens us as part of Christ’s church, which is his body.
With discrimination, the work offers a bird’s-eye view of Puritan teaching on the covenant commitment of the Trinity to regenerate, convert, marry, adopt, sanctify, assure, and preserve each elect member of Christ’s church for their heavenly inheritance. The result is the upbuilding of the church in the means of grace and by godly church government. The final sections apply Puritan theology to daily life, offering an honest, humble, and hopeful way forward to imitate the Puritans in their wholehearted devotion to God.
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