Beliefnet
Historian Mark Dever wryly notes that the subject of his new biography,Anglican nonconformist Richard Sibbes, has been described as "a ratherbland, sweet-natured, mild-mannered, charming, learned and highlyrespected middle-aged gentleman." But, against the odds, Sibbes proves theexception to the rule that good people make dull prose. Dever's book is amust-read for anyone concerned with the history of Puritanism and thedevelopment of Protestant thought.

Sibbes helped develop many of the central tenets of Puritan theology (it'snot for nothing that historian Christopher Hill called him "thequintessential Puritan"). His idea of covenant and his zeal to reform theAnglican church, to encourage a more direct relationship betweenparishoners and Christ, were hallmarks of Puritan thought. Yet Sibbes wasalways a reformist, not a separatist, and as church politics grewcontentious, he had to walk a most fine line, in both his life andtheology. To some readers, Dever's book may seem a bit arcane. But those willing to stick with it will not be disappointed. Richard Sibbes is testament to the complexity of faith in a time ofturbulent religious and political change--one rather like our own.

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