Ames Available at the Bookstore at WSC

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It’s volume 1 in the Classic Reformed Theology series and it’s $27.78 + shipping (hardcover, 288 pages). There are not many primary sources by William Ames available in English. That alone makes this volume important and interesting to everyone interested in Puritan and Reformed theology in the 16th and 17th centuries. This is an interesting and important collection of sermons for other reasons too.

First, because it demonstrates that there was more than one way to preach the Heidelberg Catechism. Ames exposited particular texts and related them to the teaching of the catechism. He did not exposit the catechism itself directly. He used the catechism as a guide to choosing the texts for his sermons, but the text of Scripture receives the bulk of the attention. It’s interesting and instructive to contemporary preachers to see how he worked through a text of Scripture and how he applied it. Ames knew no dichotomy between theology, piety, and practice. Good theology feeds genuine piety, and theology and piety are the root of godly practice and in turn practice becomes a context for understanding the faith. Ames knew nothing of dead orthodoxy—as if such a thing were actually possible.

Second, this collection is important as a witness to what early orthodox theologians and pastors were learning from Scripture and as a witness to the way they read Scripture, the care with which they read Scripture and the sorts of conclusions they drew.

Over the last several years I’ve read and read groundless claims about what constitutes “Dutch” Reformed theology, as if it were some hermetically-sealed theology that dropped out of the sky in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. William Ames, Englishman though he be, was at the very headwaters of what became Dutch Reformed theology, and in this work we see the very classic Reformed covenant theology that was found in other Dutch Reformed writers as well as the English, German, and French Reformed Churches and theologians in the 16th and 17th centuries.

If you’re interested in Reformed preaching, Reformed theology, Reformed piety, or Reformed practice you should have this volume.

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