The Westminster Assembly (Robert Letham)

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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
With this volume Letham has established himself as a leading English-speaking Reformed theologian.

HOLY SCRIPTURE

Letham gives the basic Reformed understanding of Scripture.

God the Holy Trinity

Without passions…

Letham is aware that a hard division on God’s not having passions must take into account the fact that the Incarnation brought into true union with humanity. Jesus experiences human thoughts, human emotions, etc (162). Letham is certainly on the correct path.

Creation

Letham gives a competent discussion on Creation, though one that will annoy many. He admits, contra many Klineans, that the divines likely held to six solar days, yet he points out that the more pertinent goal was to reject Augustine’s view of instantaneous creation. Further, what we must also admit, no matter where we land on this discussion, is that some divines did presuppose a geocentric cosmology which saw theology in spatial terms. Indeed, one wonders if George Walker even knew that the world is spherical (Letham 191 n.50).

Christ and covenant

Covenant of Redemption?

Letham highlights a number of problems. While he doesn’t note the problem of person, if person does not include mind (which is usually subsumed under nature), then does it make sense to speak of three individuals who all share the same mind making an agreement? I’m not saying it is a wrong idea, and the CoR certainly preserves a few key values.

Assurance

Great section on assurance and he places these discussions in their pastoral context, which context is often lost on critics of Reformed assurance.

Law, Liberty, Church and Eschatology

Great section on Law and Liberty--and he avoids getting involved in the painful theonomy disputes. Letham shows how the RPW should be read and interpreted in light of the Laudian imprisonment and persecution of Reformed believers. On another note, he points out how the Presbyterians really failed on clinching and continuing the “liberty of conscience” victory it justly won. I will elaborate:

Did the Solemn League and Covenant bind the consciences of those who didn’t vow it? Said another way, was Cromwell later on obligated to establish Presbyterian government? If he was, how does this square with what (Covenanter) Samuel Rutherford said, “It is in our power to vow, but not in the church’s power to command us to vow” (quoted in Letham 299)? Maybe the two points don’t contradict each other, but the tension is certainly strained.

And it appears the Presbyterians couldn’t maintain this tension. They chose to deal with the tyrant Charles I and supported (to their fatal regret later) the pervert Charles II. Cromwell’s victory at Dunbar is fully justified.

Conclusion:

This isn’t a commentary on the Confession. It is a theological exploration of the historical circumstances behind it. Letham’s scholarship is judicious, measured, and quite frankly awe-inspiring.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Letham was an OPC pastor in Wilmington, Delaware for some years at a church I frequently attended.
That sounds neat. I've probably spent more time reading Letham over the past 10 years than anyone else, except perhaps Robert LEtham. I wish there were more Letham audio available.
 
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