Friday, 26 June 2015
The Westminster Assembly, by Robert Letham
A book by Robert Letham is definitely worth reading, as he is one of the more patristically minded Calvinists. This particular book is about church history, which I suppose is my specialist subject. Letham looks at the Westminster Assembly, a body of Puritan, Presbyterian and Independent ministers who met during the English Civil War for the purpose of complteting the Reformation of the English Church. The fruit of their discussion was that great Reformed creed, the Westminster Confession. Letham argues that many writers have not handled the topic of the Westminster Assembly accurately and have tended to read it through the lens of later debates in Presbyterianism, ignoring its 17th century context.
Letham argues that many of the men in the Westminster Assembly were deeply rooted in the theology of the Church Fathers and had some semblance of a doctrine of theosis. The author takes particular aim at Thomas Torrance, who he argues fails to grasp the richness of the Westminster theology.
Letham makes the point that quite a range of different theological views were tolerated within the Westminster Assembly. While the group adopted limited atonement, those who spoke in favour of a general atonement continued to participate in the assembly's discussions.
While this book will of interest primarily to those of a Presbyterian or Reformed background, it does touch on the history of Anglicanism, so those interested in early Anglican history will find this useful.