Joel R. Beeke. Piety: The Heartbeat of Reformed Theology. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 2015. 40pp. ISBN 9781596389588. $4.99 (booklet).
What do you think of when someone mentions “Reformed theology”? Do you think of angry young hipsters with beards railing about predestination? Or do you think about a theology focused on living daily for Christ?
Especially in the Reformed world, the idea of piety has gotten something of a bum rap. Either mistakenly equated with German Pietism or dismissed as mysticism, piety is a concept that gets lost in discussions of (ostensibly) more important doctrines. It’s this state of affairs that Dr Beeke aims to rectify in this new booklet, Piety: The Heartbeat of Reformed Theology.
Beginning with a definition of piety and an historical examination of how piety was understood by such Reformed stalwarts as John Calvin and Franciscus Junius, Dr Beeke proceeds to show that from the very beginning of Reformed thought with John Calvin, through the apex of Reformed thought in the Westminster Assembly and Dutch Nadere Reformatie, the goal of Reformed doctrine has always been to produce godly living—which is just another way of saying that the best of the Reformed theologians always aimed at the heart as well as the head in their preaching and practice.
This is a subject in which Dr Beeke is right at home, as it fits well with the experiential aspect of his preaching and his other public works, and there are few scholars as well versed in the practical applications of Reformed doctrine and Puritan thought than Joel Beeke. As interest in Calvinism has exploded over the last decade and a half, there are any number of well-known Calvinists who can be accused of having giants heads but cold, shriveled hearts that would make the Grinch smile. Dr Beeke’s work is a welcome prescription to cure this illness, and deserves to be widely read.
Here is a work of theology that will engage your brain and warm your heart.