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Many caricatures of the English Puritans have persisted since the restoration of Charles II. G. K. Chesterton accused them of being “killjoys who could not appreciate the goodness of created things.” Lord Macaulay was even more unkind: “The Puritans disliked bear-baiting not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.” Such stereotypes are obviously false yet incredibly persistent.
Thankfully, Mark Dever’s new work on Richard Sibbes, the beloved “sweet dropper of grace,” helps reveal the lie of these claims.
Affectionate - Theology - Richard - Sibbes - Misconceptions
The Affectionate Theology of Richard Sibbes wasn’t written to correct long-standing misconceptions about the Puritans, though it does that to be sure. It began its life as a doctoral dissertation titled Richard Sibbes: Puritanism and Calvinism in Late Elizabethan and Early Stuart England, but now has been edited for a more popular readership and included in Reformation Trust’s outstanding biographical series, A Long Line of Godly Men.
The goal of this study is to recover Sibbes “as a historical and theological whole” by presenting him “clearly in both his historical and theological contexts” (176). In so doing, Dever—pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and TGC Council member—provides an insightful and enjoyable introduction to English Puritanism in general and to Richard Sibbes in particular.
Introduction - Puritan - Sets - Purpose - Work
The introduction, “Quintessential Puritan,” sets forth the purpose of the work, difficulties surrounding the subject, and Dever’s method. The book follows Sibbes’s career and writings from the time of Queen Elizabeth to that of Charles I (chapters 1 to 3). In chapters 4 through 7, the focus shifts to four theological concerns—covenant theology, the affections, assurance, and the conscience—to explore the hotly debated relationship between the English Puritans and their Reformed forefathers.
Chapter 1 introduces us to the personal, religious, and educational contexts into which Sibbes was born in 1577. Sadly, little is...
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