Reformed Confessions Harmonized, with an Annotated Bibliography of Reformed Doctrinal Works. Edited by Joel R. Beeke and Sinclair B. Ferguson. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999, 271 pp., $19.99 paper.
Many years ago in a course on the Westminster Standards taught by Dr. Morton H. Smith, I worked with the long, awkward pages of his cut and paste, spiral bound, homemade harmony of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms with the Three Forms of Unity. It was very helpful to see these Reformed doctrinal and didactic compositions laid side-by-side as we studied the various loci. I wished then (though thankful indeed for Dr. Smith's excellent idea), that someone had thought to do such a harmony in a more attractive, uniform, durable, and convenient format. Well, my wish (and more) has now been granted in the work of Joel Beeke and Sinclair Ferguson. Beeke is a prolific writer and editor, and Ferguson is a widely known and appreciated author in evangelical circles.
This book contains the Three Forms of Unity-that is, the Belgic Confession of Faith (1561), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), and the Canons of Dort (1618-1619)-the Second Helvetic Confession (1566), the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646-1647), and Shorter and Larger Catechisms (1647), laid out in chronological order across two facing pages, from left to right. There is also a brief and helpful historical introduction to these confessions as well as a rather extensive and carefully selected annotated bibliography that follows the topical organization of the Belgic Confession.
The editors have chosen these seven confessional or catechetical documents because they represent the fruit of the various branches of the European Reformation tradition (Swiss, British, and Dutch-German) and are widely known, used, and adhered to in the sundry Reformed denominations today. For any student or teacher of dogmatics, symbolics, or historical theology, this work will prove a useful tool.
Ferguson's introductions to the respective documents are pithy and help immunize the unwary beginner against certain myths that are still, unfortunately, afoot today in the study of historical theology. …