Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism by Joel R. Beeke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Calvinism, you say? What is that exactly?
People have varying reactions to hearing the term Calvinism. There are many strong opinions for and against the Calvinist perspective on the teaching of the Bible. Yet with the strength of opinion, and perhaps because of it, Calvinism is often misunderstood and misrepresented.
Whether or not you identify as a Calvinist, Joel Beeke does a terrific job in presenting the tenants of this Reformation era theology. In the first section he takes us chapter by chapter through TULIP, an easy way to remember the basics.
What I found most helpful was the second half, which is a real life perspective of people who lived as the first Calvinists: Puritans. These 15th century Christians are often regarded to see how the teachings of John Calvin impacted how people lived everyday life. Beeke takes us through the family structure of a typical Puritan household along with how the faith was taught and practiced.
Do not be intimidated. At first glance this book with its more than 400 pages looks too large to tackle. However, Beeke uses accessible language and strong biblical support to present a basic look at what Calvinism is and the assurance of living in light of God’s sovereignty and for God’s glory.
[LEGAL: copy of the book was provided as compensation for this review by the publisher]
It would stand to reason that Christians who hang with reformation theology would have a problem with talking about “works.” One blogger recently suggested that reformed Christians have a “fear of works.” Even from its inception, the Reformation was reactive against the authority of the Papacy and the doctrine of the Roman Catholic church regarding penance and works as being a payment for sin. At that time the Catholic church was the only option in terms of Christian teaching and worship, and its intimate relationship with the ruling powers easily allowed the false doctrine of justification by works violate and tarnish the gospel. Martin Luther, John Calvin and others challenged the church’s position and many were burned at the stake for their challenge.
But the Bible does teach us to do good, in fact (dare I say) it requires Christians to do good works. Surely without good works there would never have been a Reformation and no one would have taken up the banner of the true gospel even to death without them. There is a dramatic difference between justification by works, which is outright heresy, and justification by faith. Indeed we are justified by our faith, and it is this gospel that is so clearly defined in the book of Galatians.