J. I. Packer, Ed.
Reviewed by: Arthur J. Fox
Date posted: 09/03/2006
Puritan Papers: Volume 5, 1968-1969, edited by J. I. Packer. Published by P&R Publishing, 2005. Paperback, 251 pages, list price $16.99. Reviewed by Pastor Arthur J. Fox.
From 1956 to 1969, an annual conference on the Puritans was held at Westminster Chapel in London. Prominent participants included the editor of this volume and Martyn Lloyd-Jones. This is the fifth of five volumes containing papers that were delivered at that conference. The papers in this volume are divided into two parts: "The Manifold Grace of God (1968)" and "By Schisms Rent Asunder (1969)." The first part features papers by John De Witt ("The Arminian Conflict and the Synod of Dort"), J. I. Packer ("Arminianisms"), David Fountain ("John Wycliffe: The Evangelical Doctor"), PeterToon ("Puritan Eschatology: 1600-1648"), David R. Smith ("John Fletcher: An Arminian Upholder of Holiness"), and Martyn Lloyd-Jones ("William Williams and Welsh Calvinistic Methodism"). The second part consists of papers by John D. Manton ("German Pietism and the Evangelical Revival"), J.I. Packer ("The Doctrine of Justification among the Puritans"), Hywel R. Jones ("The Death of Presbyterianism"), Elizabeth Braund ("Joseph Alleine"), and Martyn Lloyd-Jones ("Can We Learn from History?").
Some of these names will be familiar to you; others may be new to you. But each paper has something interesting to say.
The first part opens up the differences between Arminianism and Calvinism, and helps us to understand that even among Methodists these differences exist. The tone is irenic throughout. The article on John Fletcher in particular is remarkable for its admiration of an Arminian by a Calvinist. Lloyd-Jones has a particularly riveting passage on revival in his paper on Welsh Calvinistic Methodism.
The second part mourns the divisions that have taken place in the church due to doctrinal decline and persecution. It finishes with a plea from Lloyd-Jones for unity among the denominations (not organic unity, but agreement on the essentials, rather than open competition).
Each paper can be read easily in about an hour or less. The conference deals with the church in Great Britain, but it is not all that different from the church in America.