Today’s book is provided by Crossway Publishers, and I received a free e-book version for the purpose of reviewing. Crossway is nice to give free content, and cheap to send digitally. I appreciate the former and understand the latter.
The Theology of the Westminster Standards, by J.V. Fesko, is a serious book. That’s the first statement I would make: you’re not in for light reading here. Additionally, you may find yourself needing to either read the actual Westminster Standards or consult your favorite Presbyterian to grapple with the content. After all, why bother with the theology of something you have never read?
Fesko’s work breaks down the collection of documents known as the Westminster Standards, which includes the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, and the Form of Church Government. The focus is on the Confession and two Catechisms.
The material is organized around the general categories of systematic theology, tracing how the Standards speak to the doctrines of Scripture, God, Christology, and more. I would recommend you be familiar with the general academics of theology before tackling these chapters, though this work could be your introduction. A more general introduction, though, would be of benefit to you.
I found the first chapter the most beneficial, as it covers the historical context of the writing of the Westminster Standards. (Technically, I suppose it’s the 2nd chapter, as the Introduction is labeled Chapter 1.) This chapter serves the valuable role of reminding the reader of what is going on, and has gone on, in the world around Westminster when the Standards come into being.
Fesko’s writing style is accessible, but does require a willingness to focus in and read. I recommend a notepad and a Bible close at hand. It is worth your time, especially if you are looking for the historical foundations of Reformed Theology.
If you are a casual reader, you’ll need to stretch out to tackle this one. If your interest in theology is either “gotcha” games for tweetable lines or feel-good only, then you need to give this a pass or be prepared for frustration.
If you’re out for a deeper understanding, this is a good look at Reformed Theology, especially in its initial settings.
Free book provided in exchange for the review.