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A conversation with Joel Beeke

President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, enumerates 10 lasting effects of the Protestant Reformation

by Peter Benyola

photo: Michelle Johnson

 

One of the longest-lasting fruits of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation has been a tradition of faithful Bible teachers, teachers who have stood on the shoulders of their predecessors carrying on the ministry of Word and sacrament for God’s people. Among these many erudite Reformed teachers is one who quite competently fills the niche of modern Puritan theology, Dr. Joel R. Beeke.

Dr. Beeke is president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, a pastor of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, editor of Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, president of Inheritance Publishers, and vice-president of the Dutch Reformed Translation Society. He has written or co-authored 100 books, most recently, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, Revelation, Living Zealously, Parenting by God’s Promises: How to Raise Children in the Covenant of Grace, Living for the Glory of God: An Introduction to Calvinism, Meet the Puritans and Taking Hold of God.

Dr. Beeke also has edited 100 books, and contributed 2,500 articles to Reformed books, journals, periodicals and encyclopedias. His Ph.D. is in Reformation and Post-Reformation theology from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia). He is frequently called upon to lecture at seminaries and to speak at Reformed conferences around the world. He and his wife Mary have been blessed with three children: Calvin, Esther and Lydia — and two grandchildren.

Dr. Beeke offered the keynote address at the April 28 banquet for Seminario Reformando Latinoamericano (formerly Gospel Through Colombia), whose vision is to spearhead a reformation throughout Latin America. In commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, Dr. Beeke numbered 10 of the movement’s lasting fruits.

In Dr. Beeke’s own words: In its roots, the Reformation was a spiritual phenomenon as the Reformers applied the truth of God’s Word to the life and mission of the church. But over time, the Reformed faith served as a dynamic motivation and catalyst for change and progress wherever its influence reached. The many lasting effects include the following:

1. Recognizing the Bible as God’s written Word and the supreme rule of faith and life for the church and for the individual Christian.

2. Recovering the authentic gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ alone to the glory of God alone, and proclaiming it to the ends of the earth through zealous evangelism.

3. Preserving, expositing and defending the Christian faith through preaching and sound literature as the system of doctrine taught in God’s Word, thereby affirming trinitarian theology, which manifests itself soteriologically in what later would be called the five points of Calvinism: total depravity, unconditional election, definite atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints.

4. Reasserting the crown rights of Christ as King over the nations and the only Head of the church, which is His body. This resulted in reforming the church in her worship and preaching, so that all is done in subjection to God’s Word and in relation to the triune God rather than in subjection to man’s desires.

5. Enlivening the church worldwide with a deep conviction of the fatherly sovereignty of God through Christ, which results in a deep, warm, sanctifying, experiential piety that moves believers to yearn to commit their entire lives to His praise.

6. Establishing the freedom of Christians from tyranny in the church and the rights of citizens under the rule of law, curbing the powers of kings and nobles, and enabling the rise of representative democracy in the form of constitutional monarchies and republics.

7. Recasting the state as a commonwealth, promoting the dignity of labor, encouraging trade and commerce, and increasing wealth among all classes, while curbing the excesses of unregulated capitalism and providing for the care of the sick and the poor.

8. Establishing the Christian home on the principles of Scripture, in which marriage is understood as a reflection of the Christ-church relationship; where husband and wife covenant with each other to walk in God’s ways; and parents rear their children, who are loaned to them by God, as He would have them reared: covenantally, ethically and experientially.

9. Rekindling the spirit of inquiry, or “faith seeking understanding”; founding schools, academies, and universities; disseminating knowledge; encouraging research and exploration; enabling many discoveries; and producing many valuable inventions.

10. Inspiring creative endeavors in the form of literature, music, art, and architecture and great public works, consecrating the powers of man to the service and glory of God.

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