424: Syllabus



Semester: 2018 Spring
Credit hours: Two
Lecturer: Joel Beeke
Facilitator: Chris Engelsma
Contact info: joel.beeke@prts.edu; (616) 307-4022
Office hours: Dr. Beeke – by appointment;  Chris Engelsma – anytime
Course Description:
An in-depth examination of some major themes of Puritan theology, including the Puritan view of Scripture, experiencing God, meditation, adoption, assurance of faith, sanctification, church and worship, preaching, marriage and child-rearing, etc. The course will give special emphasis to the nature of experiential religion, a singular characteristic of Puritan writings.
Learning Objectives:
  1. Be able to define Puritanism and its major characteristics.
  2. Be able to articulate why we need the Puritans today, both theologically and pastorally.
  3. Be able to explain the pilgrim mentality of Puritan thought in terms of its biblicist, pietist, churchly, two-worldly, warfaring, and methodical outlook.
  4. Be able to expound the Puritan view of Scripture through the insights of John Owen, the prince of the Puritans.
  5. Be able to distinguish the different kinds of Puritan meditation, as well as the manner, subjects, benefits, and obstacles of such meditation.
  6. Be able to show how the Puritans understood what it means to become experientially acquainted with each of the three persons in the Trinity.
  7. Be able to explain how and why the Puritans stressed the exceeding sinfulness of sin.
  8. Be able to explain the basics of Puritan covenant theology and its impact on pastoral ministry.
  9. Be able to elucidate the basics of Puritan Christology, including how and why they so highly valued the shedding of Christ’s blood and His compassionate, intercessory work in heaven.
  10. Be able to explain the amazing comfort contained in the Puritan view of the promises of God.
  11. Be able to appreciate the comprehensive Puritan view of spiritual adoption and its privileges and responsibilities.
  12. Be able to explicate the Puritan doctrine of sanctification in terms of its definition, agent, subject, activity, measure, method, and motive.
  13. Be able to develop the Puritan teaching on assurance of faith as expounded in the Westminster Confession of Faith and in the theology of Anthony Burgess.
  14. Be able to describe the Puritan view of church and worship.
  15. Be able to articulate the Puritan passion and program for preaching.
  16. Be able to articulate the Puritan view of heaven and hell.
  17. Be able to understand the Puritan lifestyle that flows from Puritan theology in terms of marriage and child-rearing, and conscience and casuistry.
  18. Be able to explain how the Puritans viewed the ministry as a prophetic and priestly office.
  19. Be able to utilize the strengths of Puritan theology in contemporary situations, especially its major contributions in areas of experiential theology that remain deeply significant for the church today.


Required Readings:
  1. Joel Beeke, A Puritan Theology: introduction and chapters 2, 5, 7, 10, 15–16, 21–22, 27–28, 30, 32, 35, 39–40, 48, 56–57, 60. This approximates about 30% of the book (300+ pages). Read these chapters as they correspond to the course outline. Plan to read roughly 1.5 chapters per week.
  2. Joel Beeke, Meet the Puritans, pages xiii-xxx, 3–9, 39–51, 61–71, 101–112, 245–256, 265–279, 455–463, 469–480.
  3. Lloyd-Jones, The Puritans, pages 237–259, 348–371.
  4. William Greenhill, Stop Loving the World.
  5. J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness, chapters 1–2, 9, 13, 20.

In addition to reading A Puritan Theology as required throughout the course outline, read the following:
Assignments for Weeks #1–2:

  1. Beeke-Pederson, xiii–xxx, 3–9
  2. Lloyd-Jones, “Puritanism and Its Origins,” 1971 (pp. 237–59)
  3. Packer, Chapters 1–2

Assignments for Week #3–5:

  1. Finalize with me by the end of the fourth week of class the subject you would like to write on for your final paper on some aspect of Puritan theology.
  2. William Greenhill, Stop Loving the World
  3. Beeke-Pederson, 39–51, 61–71,

Assignments for Week #6–8:
1. Packer, Chapter 9
2. Beeke-Pederson, 101–112
Assignments for Week #9–11:
1. Lloyd-Jones, “Edwards and Revival,” 1976 (pp. 348–71)
2. Packer, Chapter 13
3. Beeke-Pederson, 265–279
Assignments for Week #12–14:
1. Packer, Chapter 20
2. Beeke-Pederson, 455–463, 469–80
Secondary Source Textbooks (optional):


The mid-term exam will be administered in the ninth week.  During this week, please make arrangements to take this exam.  Since the exam is closed-book, you will need a proctor.  You have three options here.  First, if you are able to come to the campus, you can take the exam with Paul Smalley on March 14 at the regular class time.  Second, you can arrange with someone at your church to proctor the exam for you.  You can set this up with Chris Engelsma.  Third, we can proctor the exam remotely using video-conferencing software.  Again, make these arrangements with Chris Engelsma.

This exam will be based primarily on the lectures given and secondarily on the assigned readings scheduled above prior to that date.

Final Exam:

The final exam will be made available in week 13.  It is a take-home exam based on the lectures, but an excellent exam will go beyond the lectures. It will consist of about ten essay questions. Please do also note on your exam what percentage of the readings you completed.

Final Paper:

A final paper (5-15 pages) on some aspect of Puritan theology.  You have two options here.  If you would like to write a traditional style research paper, you are free to do that.  The paper should make use of both primary and secondary source material, be well supported by footnotes, and contain a good bibliography on the subject you are treating.  Your other option is to write a book review.  This review should be roughly divided into one part exposition and one part critique.  An excellent review will reference the material I covered in the lectures and your readings.  All written work should bide by the strictures of the PRTS Style Guide.


Each week will typically have one discussion point.  You are required to submit a post to each of these.  Many of these forums also require you to respond to what the others have posted.  You will always know if a response is required by checking the grading criteria for each.  Please read the directions for how to do this effectively.

Course Grading:
Grade Breakdown:

  • Paper/Book Review = 20%
  • Exams = 60%
  • Discussions = 20%