Joel Beeke on Puritan and Reformed Thought

An invaluable resource on Puritan and Reformed thinking and practice:

Anyone who is interested in Puritan and Reformed belief, practice and history will – or should – know the name Joel Beeke. He is one of America’s leading experts in the field, being a pastor, an editor, and an author. His numerous books are essential reading for those wanting to further pursue Puritan and Reformed thought and practice.

Others in the recent past of course have sought to recover this for us – especially in rekindling our interest in the Puritans. These folks include Charles Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones and J. I. Packer. They have all written and spoken so much on this. But Beeke certainly seems to be leading the way today.

And he certainly is prolific. Indeed, it is rather incredible just how many volumes Joel Beeke has penned. I must confess, I only have 17 of his works, but he has actually written and edited hundreds. And so many of these works are quite massive, ranging in length from 500 to over 1300 pages.

Before speaking more to his many writings, let me present a brief look at his life. And the best way to do that is to check out his own website which offers this information about him:

Dr. Joel R. Beeke was converted at the age of 14, and has pastored for more than forty years in three churches.

 

Currently, he is president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary (since 1994), a pastor of the Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan (since 1986), editor of Puritan Reformed Journal and 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 and co-authored one hundred books (most recently, Reformed Systematic Theology, Reformed Preaching: Preaching God’s Word from the Heart of the Preacher to the Heart of His People, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life; Knowing and Growing in Assurance; and Debated Issues in Sovereign Predestination), edited another one hundred books, and contributed 2,500 articles to Reformed books, journals, periodicals, and encyclopedias. He is presently working on writing a systematic theology and a book on preaching from the preacher’s heart to the listener’s heart.

 

His PhD is in Reformation and Post-Reformation theology from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) on assurance of faith. He is frequently called upon to lecture at seminaries and to speak at Reformed conferences around the world in dozens of countries. He and his wife Mary have been blessed with three children and four grandchildren. www.joelbeeke.org/about-2/

Wow, that is one very busy and prolific guy! Given that he is just 7 weeks older than I am (we are both 68), he has had an incredibly productive life in Christian scholarship, writing, teaching and ministry. It is hard to keep up with him. He has performed an invaluable service, especially in keeping the thoughts and writings of the Puritans alive.

To promote him and his work here does not mean I necessarily agree with everything he has written of course. While he is a committed Calvinist, I would at best be a 4-point Calvinist, or maybe a 3.5 Calvinist, or perhaps a 2.85 Calvinist! Keen Calvinists will need to forgive me here!

But he has so much of value, not just in terms of theology but in terms of spirituality and the Christian life, especially as he draws so very deeply from the Puritans. Perhaps the best way I can further introduce you to Beeke is to simply and very briefly discuss each of the titles of his which I do own. Here then are the 17, in alphabetical order:

Fighting Satan (Reformation Heritage, 2015)
In this brief and practical book Beeke looks at what Scripture says about Satan, spiritual warfare and the Christian life.

A Habitual Sight of Him (with Mark Jones, eds., Reformation Heritage, 2009)
This is part of the “Profiles in Reformed Spirituality” series, and the subtitle explains what is found here: “The Christ-Centered Piety of Thomas Goodwin”.

John Bunyan and the Grace of Fearing God (with Paul Smalley, P & R Publishing, 2016)
Another brief but quite helpful volume, this one examining the life and theology of Bunyan, especially as it relates to fearing God.

Knowing and Growing in Assurance of Faith (Christian Focus, 2017)
A practical look at the Christian doctrine of assurance. A helpful work, rich in theological and pastoral considerations.

Living for God’s Glory (Reformation Trust, 2008)
This 400-page work offers us “An Introduction to Calvinism”. Beeke and eight other contributors cover a wide amount of territory here.

Meet the Puritans (with Randall Pederson, Reformation Heritage, 2007)
This 900 page guide to around 150 Puritans and some 700 Puritan titles is an invaluable encyclopedic work.

Pastors and Their Critics (with Nick Thompson, P&R, 2020)
This practical work is “A Guide to Coping with Criticism in the Ministry”. A very helpful book which not only pastors will greatly benefit from.

Puritan Reformed Spirituality (Evangelical Press, 2006)
In 500 pages Beeke presents us with “A Practical Biblical Study from Reformed and Puritan Heritage”.

Puritan Reformed Theology (Reformation Heritage, 2020)
A wide variety of topics are covered in this 700+ page book. The subtitle indicates the sorts of things covered: “Historical, Experiential, and Practical Studies for the Whole of Life”.

Image of Puritan Reformed Theology: Historical, Experiential, and Practical Studies for the Whole of Life
Puritan Reformed Theology: Historical, Experiential, and Practical Studies for the Whole of Life by Joel R. Beeke (Author) Amazon logo

A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (with Mark Jones, Reformation Heritage, 2012)
This is another massive tome (1000+ pages), seeking to systematise Puritan theology. A very important work indeed.

Reformed Preaching (Crossway, 2018)
Beeke is well placed in these 500 pages to help us in “Proclaiming God’s Word from the Heart of the Preacher to the Heart of His People”.

Reformed Systematic Theology, vol 1 (with Paul Smalley, Crossway, 2019)
While I have plenty of systematic theologies, these two volumes are a welcome addition to my collection. Each tome is over 1300 pages in length. These two books alone will keep you well occupied for quite some time – at least until the remaining two volumes in the set appear.

Reformed Systematic Theology, vol 2 (with Paul Smalley, Crossway, 2020)
While vol. 1 on this set deals with revelation, scripture and the doctrine of God, the second volume covers anthropology and Christology. Vol. 3, on the Spirit and salvation, is due out in a month or so.

Revelation (Reformation Heritage, 2016)
This 600-page commentary in ‘The Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament’ series is quite useful indeed.

Taking Hold of God (with Brian Najapfour, eds., Reformation Heritage, 2011)
As the subtitle indicates, this is about “Reformed and Puritan Perspectives on Prayer”. Practical yet theologically useful.

Theology Made Practical: New Studies on John Calvin and His Legacy (with David Hall and Michael Haykin, Reformation Heritage Books 2017)
A number of matters are examined in this helpful book, including the biographical, the theological, the pastoral and the political.

Thriving in Grace (with Brian Hedges, Reformation Heritage, 2020)
This shorter work look at “Twelve Ways the Puritans Fuel Spiritual Growth”. The Puritans (as per the final three chapters), Search Our Souls with Profound Psychological Insight; Set Our Sights on Eternal Realities; and Fill Us with Sacrificial Zeal for God and His Truth.

As mentioned, one may not agree with everything being promoted by Beeke. But there is such a depth of riches here – theological, historical, ecclesiastical, pastoral and practical – that anyone who loves the Lord will so very greatly benefit from. Happy reading and study.

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3 Replies to “Joel Beeke on Puritan and Reformed Thought”

  1. The way I handle books is if you have the truth I don’t care about your denomination. If your peddling lies I don’t care that you call yourself Christian.

  2. I heard him give a talk 2 years ago in Sydney on family worship. One point really stuck out was that from 9 months old he would sit the child on his lap so that from their earliest memory they would know the family always had family devotions after the evening meal.

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