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Living for God's Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism

de Joel R. Beeke

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The theological system known as Calvinism is often caricatured as harsh, dour, and illogical. But as Dr. Joel R. Beeke argues in this important new book, this image could not be further from the truth. Beeke, a pastor, educator, editor, and prolific author, shows instead that Calvinism is a theology that is firmly rooted in Scripture and works its way out into every area of the believer's life. He aims to "cover the intellectual and spiritual emphases of Calvinism, the way it influences the church and everyday living, and its ethical and cultural implications." In this comprehensive survey of Reformed Christianity, Dr. Beeke and eight fellow contributors offer twenty-eight chapters that trace the history of Calvinism; explore its key doctrinal tenets, such as the so-called five points of Calvinism and the solas of the Protestant Reformation; reveal how Calvinists have sought to live in devotion to God; and survey Calvinism's influence in the church and in the world at large. In the end, the book asserts that the overriding goal of Calvinism is the glory of God. Saturated with Scripture citations and sprinkled with quotations from wise giants of church history, this book presents Calvinism in a winsome and wondrous fashion.… (més)
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O livro é uma abordagem sobre a teologia reformada. Cada capítulo trata de um tema específico, tais como soteriologia, epistemologia, política, família, casamento... todos eles dentro de uma perspectiva reformada.
É um bom livro, mas achei a leitura cansativa na maior parte dele.
Recomendo para quem quer ter uma introdução a teologia reformada. ( )
  felipebarnabe | Mar 19, 2020 |
In Living for God’s Glory, Joel Beeke (president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary) presents a compact-yet-comprehensive look at Calvinism. Beeke’s presentation includes biblical and historical support for the five points most often associated with Calvinism – Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistable Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints – but goes on to discuss the origins of Calvinism, as well as its role in sanctification, ecclesiology, and other matters such as marriage and family.

According to Beeke, Calvinism is not predominantly hinged on the doctrine of predestination, but rather, it stresses, “the comprehensive, sovereign, fatherly lordship of God over everything: every area of creation, every creature’s endeavors, and every aspect of the believer’s life” (41). This theocentricity serves as the primary mark of Calvinism. Everything else stems from that central tenet. God’s sovereignty is revealed in salvation, in sanctification, in ecclesiology, in worship, in preaching, in evangelism, in marriage, and in parenting.

That fully-developed worldview is Beeke’s greatest contribution to the Calvinism discussion. So often, debates linger on the extent of the atonement and the false accusation that Calvinism hinders evangelistic zeal, that some find it impossible to wrap their minds around the Biblically-grounded, all-encompassing, joy-inducing, worldview that is Calvinism.

Critique

Beeke’s introduction to Calvinism is well written and clearly the result of many years of studies and research. And, generally speaking, he is a gracious host to those who are perhaps exploring reformed theology for the first time. However, he makes one very specific statement that readers may find troubling.

In discussing the extent of the atonement, he writes:

“Some Christians today are fond of saying, ‘I am a four-point Calvinist.’ They accept all of the TULIP acronym except limited atonement because they think it sounds too restrictive to say that Christ died only for the elect. ‘Christ died for everyone,’ they say, ‘and, with the Spirit’s help, each person must accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord as an act of free will. When that occurs, that person is born again.’
Basically, this is popularized Arminian theology, which the Synod of Dort argued against in the Second Head of the Canons, titled ‘The Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby.’”

In doing so, he eliminates a large number of those who would agree with him on every single point aside from limited (or, as he prefers, definite) atonement. There is a strong argument that Calvin himself would differ with Beeke on this point. Many who might agree with Beeke even on this point, might argue that he draws the circle too small, around too few, and fails to honor those who would differ on this point with strong historical and (even more importantly) biblical support.

Aside from this critique, Beeke has provided an excellent resource that strives to move the discussion beyond five points, and presents a compelling and comprehensive perspective on Calvinism. Detractors will find points of contention, for Beeke does not shrink back from controversy. However, those who come to the book to gain a better grasp of this rich theological heritage will be encouraged and strengthened with a renewed sense of understanding what it means to live for God’s glory.
  David_Norman | Apr 22, 2013 |
I recently got the opportunity to read Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism edited by Dr. Joel Beeke who is president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. The Contributors are an all-star caste in this book consisting Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson, Dr. James M Grier, Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin, Dr. Nelson D. Kloosterman, Rev. Ray b. Lanning, Dr. Robert W. Oliver, Ray Pennings, and Dr. Derek W. H. Thomas.

The target audience for this book is lay people & ministers who are interested in learning the basics of Calvinism. It is refreshing to read a book that expounds on the many impacts of Calvinism on history, philosophy, worldview and theology. The influence of Calvinism goes far beyond the five points of Calvinism. It does an excellent job showing the biblical roots of not just its theology but also its community.

The content of the book is divided into six sections in which each deals with a different aspect of Reformed theology. The History of Calvinism (1), Calvinism in the Mind (2), the heart (3), the church (4), in practice (5), and Calvinism’s Goals (6). The section I found most interesting that makes the whole book worth the journey was the second part “Cultivating The Heart.” I found here many practical helps to assist in examining the spiritual life of the believer. With the heart that is not just Calvinistic in theology but there worldview is reformed. Since the heart is reformed it will show in more than just thought but also in practice.

In the end, the book gives its desired goal for reformed theology which is to glory of God. The book is full of supporting texts and a variety of extensive quotations from past theological giants of the faith. I sincerely believe that Beeke’s work provides the best overall introduction to Calvinism that I have ever read. The book is over 400 pages but don’t let this hinder you from picking it up. It is a must read to any library.

Disclaimer: This book was provided by Reformation Trust Publishing for review. The reviewer was under no obligation to provide a favorable review. ( )
  moses917 | Dec 1, 2010 |
Calvinism is all the buzz these days. Last year, Time Magazine listed the rise of “The New Calvinism” as number 3 on a list of “10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now”. The five points of Calvinism are gaining adherents at a rapid rate. At the same time, a deep-seated rejection of Calvinism remains popular in large swaths of evangelicalism.

When it comes to the internet, fierce debates over Calvinism are the norm. Calvinists routinely suspect the worst of their “Arminian” opponents who are often pictured as near-Pelagians. Arminians think that Calvinists tout a dour, sour-faced God who gleefully condemns people to Hell with no chance for salvation. No wonder then, that Calvinists don’t evangelize.

From my vantage point, as a convert to Calvinism from a Baptist non-Calvinist viewpoint, both the Calvinist superiority complex and the Calvinism-is-of-the-devil overreaction share a common shortfall. Neither extreme really appreciates the full ramifications of Calvinism for all of life. Both have a certain amount of ignorance with respect to the history and teaching of Calvinism from the Reformation onward. A historical perspective and an appreciation for Calvinism’s impact on worldview and theology beyond the rather specific and limited focus of the five points would do much good all around.

It is these reasons and more which make Joel Beeke’s book Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism such an important resource. This book is packed with material illustrating how Calvinism impacts all of life.

The book starts off with an historical treatment of the origins of what we call Calvinism and a look at several of the Reformed confessions. Then it moves on to a Scriptural defense of the teachings of Calvinism. Here we find a treatment of the 5 points of Calvinism as well as the 5 solas. We also find that the sovereignty of God, or theocentrism is the doctrinal heart and soul of Calvinism.

The book goes further and surveys the piety of Calvinism and its impact in the church. In these sections we learn a lot from the Puritans on sanctification and church life. Particular emphasis is placed on the emphasis of the role of preaching in worship, which is truly Calvinism’s gift to the wider church.

The book then goes on to how Calvinism provides a “theology for all of life”. I was particularly struck by this section. The discussion of a Puritan home and marriage was eye-opening. Indeed the medieval era had downplayed the physical aspects of the marital union. The clergy were above sex, or were supposed to be, and that was left for mistresses and secret elopements. The marriage wasn’t about that, it was a societal convention. The Puritans took the Bible’s teaching on the importance of the marital union and brought back a Biblical morality and a healthy enjoyment of physical pleasures within the confines of marriage.

I also enjoyed the chapter on vocation, and how Calvinism invests the idea of a life’s calling with great significance. Political and ethical questions are also addressed from the perspective of Calvinism.

The book concludes with a chapter by Sinclair Ferguson on doxology as the end goal of Calvinism. As it was John Piper’s ministry in particular that drew me toward Calvinism, I can testify that Calvinistic theology if it is actively embraced and understood should tend toward a doxological thrust in life. Everything should be seen as flowing from God’s good hand, and our very salvation is a free gift of God’s grace. Calvinism should make us worshipful and humble, not proud.

Joel Beeke and the other contributors to this book are to be commended for showing us how doctrine should impact all of life. They open up the horizons of contemporary Christians to see the beauty of faithful orthodox piety of previous generations. The book does get long and can be quite varied at times. But the work can be seen as an anthology from which to glean what you find interesting and helpful. I recommend this book heartily.

Disclaimer: This book was provided by Reformation Trust Publishing for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.

An expanded version of this review is available at CrossFocusedReviews.com, where you can find book excerpts, giveaways, promotional offers, audio reviews and more. ( )
  bobhayton | Aug 16, 2010 |
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The theological system known as Calvinism is often caricatured as harsh, dour, and illogical. But as Dr. Joel R. Beeke argues in this important new book, this image could not be further from the truth. Beeke, a pastor, educator, editor, and prolific author, shows instead that Calvinism is a theology that is firmly rooted in Scripture and works its way out into every area of the believer's life. He aims to "cover the intellectual and spiritual emphases of Calvinism, the way it influences the church and everyday living, and its ethical and cultural implications." In this comprehensive survey of Reformed Christianity, Dr. Beeke and eight fellow contributors offer twenty-eight chapters that trace the history of Calvinism; explore its key doctrinal tenets, such as the so-called five points of Calvinism and the solas of the Protestant Reformation; reveal how Calvinists have sought to live in devotion to God; and survey Calvinism's influence in the church and in the world at large. In the end, the book asserts that the overriding goal of Calvinism is the glory of God. Saturated with Scripture citations and sprinkled with quotations from wise giants of church history, this book presents Calvinism in a winsome and wondrous fashion.

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