J. V. Fesko. The Theology of the Westminster Standards: Historical Context and Theological Insights. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014.
The Westminster Confession is one of the most important doctrinal statements in the history of the church. And J. V. Fesko’s book is its much needed twenty-first century companion, an invaluable resource for the theologically minded. Fesko not only paints the seventeenth-century historical context in which the confession was birthed, but takes us behind the scenes, introducing us to the fabric of Puritan theology. Fesko’s exposition of the Westminster Standards is brilliant and it should be every reader’s first stop on the way to understanding and applying the biblically saturated theology of these Westminster divines.
Here is the publisher’s description:
For centuries, countless Christians have turned to the Westminster Standards for insights into the Christian faith. These renowned documents—first published in the middle of the 17th century—are widely regarded as some of the most beautifully written summaries of the Bible’s teaching ever produced.
Church historian John Fesko walks readers through the background and theology of the Westminster Confession, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism, helpfully situating them within their original context. Organized according to the major categories of systematic theology, this book utilizes quotations from other key works from the same time period to shed light on the history and significance of these influential documents.
And here are commendations for the book:
“One of the ways of demonstrating the abiding relevance of our confessions is to understand the conversations and debates from which they emerged. John Fesko has done precisely this. Digging around each plant in the Westminster garden, Fesko exposes the rich soil that still nourishes our faith and practice. I picked up this book expecting to find a resource to be consulted, but found myself reading the whole work through with rapt attention. There is gold in these hills!”
– Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; author, Calvin on the Christian Life
“Finally we have a solid analysis and an expert portrayal of the theology of the Westminster Standards in which the time of its writing and its direct influence are also described. John Fesko has gathered an enormous amount of information that makes this book a sourcebook par excellence. He does the church and its theology a great favor with this overview, helping us to understand the Westminster Confession and catechisms not only in their theological context, but also in their relevance for today.”
– Herman Selderhuis, Professor of Church History, Theological University of Apeldoorn; Director, Refo500, The Netherlands
“Drawing upon a significant body of recent research, John Fesko has written an admirably clear and accessible study of the teaching of the Westminster Confession. By situating the successive chapters in their original seventeenth–century setting, he provides an informed exposition of their content and significance. This study will be immensely useful not only for theological students, but for all who require a better understanding of the most important Reformed confession in the English–speaking world.”
– David Fergusson, Professor of Divinity and Principal, New College University of Edinburgh
“Seldom has an exposition of the Westminster Standards been as useful as John Fesko’s Theology of the Westminster Standards. Dr. Fesko understands the necessity of placing these monumental documents into their proper contexts. He has uncovered a massive amount of contemporary literature and expertly explains the theological statements of the Standards in the light of these works. For everyone interested in confessionalism, this is an essential volume. It will be a standard work for decades to come.”
– James M. Renihan, Dean and Professor of Historical Theology, Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies
“Fesko’s volume is an outstanding and very welcome addition to the growing field of literature on the Westminster Confession of Faith. In these pages Fesko goes straight to the primary sources, skillfully mining relevant sixteenth– and seventeenth–century texts in order to explain the historical and theological developments leading up to the assembly. Moreover, he provides fresh and insightful analysis of the theology of the Confession itself. Do you want to grow in your knowledge and understanding of the Reformed faith in general, and the theology of the Westminster Confession in particular? If the answer is yes, then pick up and read this marvelous book. I heartily commend it!”
– Jon D. Payne, Presbyterian Church in America church planter, Charleston, South Carolina; Visiting Lecturer, Reformed Theological Seminary; Series Editor, Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament
Matthew Barrett (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University, as well as the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine. Barrett is also Senior Pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church. He is the author and editor of several books, including Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration. You can read about Barrett’s other publications at matthewmbarrett.com.