In Living for God’s Glory, Joel Beeke introduces readers to the roots of Calvinism and how it is considered “true religion” in the words of B.B. Warfield. This book spans nearly 400 pages and touches on a vast array of themes showing how Calvinism impacts every aspect of a Christian’s life. The six parts of the book investigate the historical roots, doctrines, and practical outworking of the thoughts that originated from the reformer John Calvin. Although Beeke wrote the majority of the chapters, there are several other contributors including Sinclair Ferguson, Ray Pennings, and Michael Haykin. As a whole, I find the book to be a valuable resource for those unfamiliar with the depth and breadth of Calvin’s thinking as he wrote extensively on many topics to focus believers on the glory and sovereignty of God in all aspects of life. What the author makes clear though is that Calvinism as a whole may have originated from Calvin’s work but later developments from other reformers, scholars, and pastors have also defined Calvinism as we know it today. The Puritans were likely the group that most effectively popularized Calvinism in their congregations, households, and governments. I especially enjoyed the section on Christian piety and the Christian home which undoubtedly are the specialities of the Puritans. Men such as Owen and Bunyan understood that holiness is the key to enjoying and glorifying God to the utmost. To our detriment, the theology and spirituality that we practice in evangelical circles today have strayed far from that of the reformers. The result is a stunting of the Christian life which leads to a myriad of grave implications to family, church, and society. Thus, throughout the book, Beeke continuously urges believers to rediscover the rich theology of our spiritual forefathers such as Calvin and the Puritans. The only weakness that I can point out is that throughout the book, there seems to be a lack of critique and discussion on the weaknesses of Calvinism. Although the authors do point out in several places where Calvinism was twisted to fulfill unintended purposes (e.g. political gain), actual examination of Calvin’s theology and its shortcomings were mostly avoided. Naturally, this may well be part of the author’s intent to keep the book short but critique is also an important way of fully appreciating the topic in question.
I would happily recommend this book to those unfamiliar with Calvinism and its wide-ranging applications to the Christian life. The book is not technical in terms or theology but the average layperson may be bogged down by some of the historical details and unfamiliar topics such as philosophy. Thus, Living for God’s Glory may be more suitable for those more familiar with theology in general and have an appetite for digging into the topics more thoroughly. However, I am thankful for Beeke and the other contributors for putting together a solid work that introduces Christians to Calvin’s thought and theology.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from Reformation Trust of the book in exchange for a book review.