UPDATED Coming In 2023: Beza, Polanus, and Turretin On Justification By Faith Alone

For the first time ever in English, the Classic Reformed Theology Series is proud to present a treatise by Theodore Beza, a section from the Syntagma of Amandus Polanus, and an academic disputation by Francis Turretin on the doctrine of justification. Justification by Faith Alone: Selected Writings from Theodore Beza (1519-1605), Amandus Polanus (1561-1610), and Francis Turretin (1623-1687).

The treatise by Beza is his A Defense of Justification Through Faith Alone (1592). It was his response to Antoine de Lescaille (†1610), who fled to Basle as a refugee from France after the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in 1572. He was troubled by by an orthodox sermon on justification and he responded (as moralists are wont to do) by insisting, as Zachary Purvis explains, “Christians are justified before God, he argued, not on the basis of faith alone, but on the basis of good deeds that spring from faith.” The reader will want to read Purvis’ fine introduction to this work, which gives us a clear picture of the state of the Reformed doctrine of justification in the late 16th century. Especially perceptive readers will notice certain parallels with our own time.

The second selection is from Polanus justly famous (but as yet untranslated) dogmatic theology from 1610. Polanus was one of the leading Reformed theologians in Europe after the Synod of Dort (1618–19). He was professor of Old Testament in Basle. Like a number of other theologians of the period, Polanus was a Ramist, which was mostly a pedagogical system of dividing things into two (as I have been telling my students for years and as Purvis explains). The purpose of his use of the method is to teach orthodox Reformed theology clearly. Beza had hoped to appoint Polanus to the faculty in Geneva but the latter stayed in Basle where he completed several biblical commentaries along with his great system.

The third text is Turretin’s Harmony of Paul and James on the Article of Justification (1666). This text emerged from one of his many academic disputations. As Purvis explains, “Disputations tended to entail two sessions: in the first, a student serving as respondens under the master’s supervision attempted to clarify and determine supporting and opposing arguments for a given thesis or question; in the second, the master himself answered the question and responded to all the opposing arguments.” This disputation appeared as the second of two appendices to his more famous disputation On The Satisfaction of Christ. A good bit of this disputation is a response to the Romanist Robert Bellarmine’s criticisms of the Reformation doctrine of justification.

This is volume 6 in the Classic Reformed Theology series. The other volumes in the series include:

  1. William Ames, A Sketch of the Christian’s Catechism
  2. Caspar Olevianus, Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed
  3. Johannes Cocceius, The Doctrine of the Covenant and Testament of God
  4. J. H. Heidegger, Concise Marrow of Theology
  5. Robert Rollock, Commentary on Ephesians

This volume is translated by Dr Casey Carmichael and includes an generous introduction by Dr Zachary Purvis, Lecturer in Scottish Church History, Edinburgh Theological Seminary.

©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.


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One comment

  1. This looks terrific. Thanks to those who were involved in the publishing process.
    I hope to read it one day.

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