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The Westminster Assembly: Reading Its Theology in Historical Context

, 2009
ISBN: 9780875526126
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Drawing on new primary source material, this volume considers the Assembly’s theology in terms of the unfolding development of doctrine in the Reformed churches—in connection with the preceding and current events in English history—and locates it in relation to the catholic tradition of the western church. The book asks exactly what the divines meant at each stage of their task. At a time when claims are made that particular theologies represent historic Reformed doctrine, it is particularly important to grasp what this actually is.

This collection is essential for students, scholars, pastors, historians, and anyone else studying church history. With Logos Bible Software, The Westminster Assembly is completely searchable—Scripture passages appear on mouseover and link to your preferred English translation and to the original-language texts. With Logos’ advanced features, you can perform comprehensive searches by topic or Scripture reference—finding, for example, every mention of “sabbath,” or the “ordo-salutis.”

Resource Experts
  • Looks at the “original intent” of the Assembly’s authors
  • Draws on new primary source material
  • Applies important lessons for the confessional church today
  • The Historical Context
    • From Henry VIII to the First Civil War
    • The Westminster Assembly and the Breakdown of Order
  • The Theological Context
    • The English Context
    • Sources of the Assembly’s Theology
    • The Reformed and Catholic Contexts
  • The Theology of the Assembly
    • Perspectives on Westminster
    • Holy Scripture
    • God the Trinity
    • God’s Sovereign Freedom
    • Humanity and Sin
    • Christ and Covenant
    • The Order of Salvation
    • Law and Liberty
    • Church and Sacraments
    • Death, Resurrection, and Judgment

Top Highlights

“The chief point at issue for the Puritans was whether the church has the right to bind consciences with anything other than the declarations of the Bible.” (Page 18)

“Second, the positive affirmation is clear. True believers ‘inwardly by faith, really and indeed … spiritually, receive, and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of His death.’” (Page 354)

“Scripture is complete and final only for the purpose for which it was given.” (Page 138)

“However, to describe the relations of the three persons in the Trinity as a covenant, or to affirm that there was a need for them to enter into covenantal—even contractual—arrangements is to open the door to heresy. The will of the Trinity is one; the works of the Trinity are indivisible. For all the good intentions of those who proposed it, the construal of the relations of the three persons of the Trinity in covenantal terms is a departure from classic Trinitarian orthodoxy.” (Page 236)

“As long as he does justice the king is the vicar of the eternal king, but he is the devil’s minister when he deviates into injustice. He is a king as long as he rules well, a tyrant when he oppresses by violent domination the people entrusted to his care. Therefore let him temper his rule by law.’” (Pages 23–24)

For those who revere the work of the Westminster Assembly, Prof. Letham’s comprehensive study is a blessed gift. Making judicious use of primary sources recently made available, and avoiding anachronistic and misleading attempts to make the Assembly’s work more ‘relevant’ to our times, the author has positioned that work firmly and clearly in its own time, with the paradoxical result that the Assembly’s debates and decisions come to life again and speak powerfully to us today. When you next study or teach the theology of the Westminster Assembly, this will be the first book you will turn to.

Robert B. Strimple, professor emeritus of systematic theology, Westminster Seminary California

Letham has put us all in his debt by giving us a solid and thorough introduction to the Westminster Assembly that brings its debates to life and shows why the confession and catechisms it produced have become the touchstone of Reformed theology in the English-speaking world.

—Gerald Bray, research professor of divinity, Beeson Divinity School

Typical of Bob Letham’s writings, The Westminster Assembly, is comprehensive in its grasp. . . . The book will appeal to theological professors as an ideal seminary text, to ministers as a handy guide for preaching and teaching, and to lay people as a tool to become historically and theologically informed.

Joel R. Beeke, president, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary

  • Title: The Westminster Assembly: Reading Its Theology in Historical Context
  • Author: Robert Letham
  • Publisher: P & R
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Pages: 432

Robert Letham, presbyterian pastor and theologian, teaches Systematic Theology at the Wales Evangelical School of Theology, formerly Evangelical Theological College of Wales. Previously he was Senior Minister of Emmanuel Orthodox Presbyterian Church Wilmington Delaware for 17 years. He has taught at London Bible College (now London School of Theology), and most recently was Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary Philadelphia and Visiting Professor of Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Baltimore / Washington DC.

(From Theopedia.com. Freely redistributable under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.)


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    Print list price: $24.99
    Save $3.00 (12%)