2016-06-30
Historian Mark Dever wryly notes that the subject of his new biography, Anglican nonconformist Richard Sibbes, has been described as "a rather bland, sweet-natured, mild-mannered, charming, learned and highly respected middle-aged gentleman." But, against the odds, Sibbes proves the exception to the rule that good people make dull prose. Dever's book is a must-read for anyone concerned with the history of Puritanism and the development of Protestant thought.

Sibbes helped develop many of the central tenets of Puritan theology (it's not for nothing that historian Christopher Hill called him "the quintessential Puritan"). His idea of covenant and his zeal to reform the Anglican church, to encourage a more direct relationship between parishoners and Christ, were hallmarks of Puritan thought. Yet Sibbes was always a reformist, not a separatist, and as church politics grew contentious, he had to walk a most fine line, in both his life and theology. 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 of turbulent religious and political change--one rather like our own.



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