A conversation with Joel Beeke
photo: Michelle DeBella-Bharath

BENYOLA: One of the touchstones of Puritan teaching is its contribution to the church’s doctrine of the Trinity. In what specific ways did the Puritans help reorient the church to the trinitarian truths of Scripture and the early church creeds?

BEEKE: The Puritan contribution to Christian trinitarian theology was manifold. In every case, they took up the basic doctrines of the church and developed them to the fullest possible extent. So in regard to God the Father, they began with his electing love, his almighty power shown in his works of creation and providence, proceeded to his promises of salvation and life set forth in the covenant of grace and sealed with the blood of his incarnate Son, and onward to his adoption of believers as children of God and joint heirs with Christ of the kingdom of heaven, sealed with the Spirit of promise.

With regard to God the Son, they were not the first to speak of Christ as Prophet, Priest and King, but they did expound more fully than others the work that Christ has done, is doing, and will do, in the execution of his threefold office, as Mediator of the covenant of grace and the only Savior.

With regard to God the Holy Spirit, they are second to none in expounding all aspects of the Spirit’s person and work as the Lord and giver of life, and our sanctifier. Much of the perceived neglect of the work of the Spirit in the early twentieth century, was due to the neglect of the great writings of the Puritans on this subject.

BENYOLA: The first book of yours that I read was Reformation Heroes. Even though this book is targeted to young people, I actually found its format, writing style and illustrations to be an enjoyable, straightforward and accessible overview to introduce a person of any age to Reformation history. The bibliography of the book partially answers this question: to what sources do Reformation scholars like you turn for the earliest and most reliable accounts of the events, figures and politics of the Reformation period?

BEEKE: That’s a tough question to handle, as there are hundreds of sources to use! This would take many hours to answer in even a small measure of detail, given the plethora of sources consulted. Suffice it to say that there are dozens of good sources from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries, and hundreds, even a few thousand, good sources printed in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

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Covenant theology, interviews, Reformation