While we had intended to review this book in the previous issue, it fits nicely into the section in this issue especially because it will lead into a book that the author is publishing which will be available September 2012. We have read the manuscript and will comment on it. But this little book which is one of those dynamite kind of books, coming in small packages, is a new edition of an earlier edition. The content contains lectures given in 1999 by Trueman, at a conference at the Evangelical Theological College in Wales. Since that time, he has taken up residence at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, teaching church history, and serving in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. In Trueman’s engaging style, he takes the basic topics of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and traces how they impact us today, but he also sounds the challenge to take the truth of yesterday, build upon it today, and prepare for tomorrow.
Trueman has the unique ability to take Reformational truths and communicate them today in a way that suggests to those who might question their value and demonstrates their relevancy and challenge to the church to build on that solid biblically Reformed Christianity. His emphasis is not to simply build on that foundation from an academic position but in a life changing way. He has a unique way of communicating that the truths of the Reformers are as relevant today as they were in those earlier times of the sixteenth century.
He clearly expresses what the Reformation was all about. It was, he says, “a move to place God as He has revealed Himself in Christ at the centre of the church’s life and thought.” While that would set the tone for this book, he applies it to the person and work of Christ and Him crucified, the centrality of Scripture and the teachings on salvation. Trueman reminds us that the usefulness of the Reformation theology was not merely an academic exercise but a challenge to put the emphasis upon God and he does so in a manner that challenges us to ask and answer, if God has the same centrality and emphasis in our churches today. He challenges us to think about who and what is central in our worship of God today, even in the personal testimonies which are more often about us than about him.
Reminding us that “the reformed church is always in need of reforming,” he suggests ways in which by God’s grace we continue that “reforming” process. Reforming is an ongoing process that never ceases until we are with the Lord in the new heavens and earth. In true fashion, Trueman reminds us “the heritage of the Reformation is more than just the doctrine of justification by faith, it is also the theology of the cross…” As a good professor and teacher of church history, Trueman reminds us of things such as the preacher’s responsibility, the preacher’s training, the place of systematic theology, and the preacher’s task in the “reforming process.” His challenging in all of this is to focus on the triune God through His Word.
His closing challenge is not to look backwards with regard to our foundation, but to look forward in our orientation. His closing words are fitting, “we have a gracious and trustworthy God; the Reformers reminded the world of that fact; let us place Him once again at the centre of our lives and worship.”
While Trueman reminds us of the above, he also underscores the value and place of confessions and creeds in the life of God’s people, the church. Therefore, he will speak to that in the next book in our review.