Prepared by Grace, For Grace examines the Puritans teaching on preparation for conversion. Ironically, just before reading this book, I saw a pastor tweet that another pastor taught the Puritan doctrine of “preparationism” **key spooky music**. I honestly had read nothing on this topic prior to reading Prepared by Grace, For Grace, although after reading I realize I had indirectly heard quite a bit about preparation for conversion.
Beeke and Smalley journey through the history of the church to show first that preparation for conversion was not a novelty to the Puritans. They point out that while not as developed, John Calvin expresses the Spirit’s work prior to conversation as preparation. This, in fact, is a central argument as you start the book.
What they want to positively demonstrate is that some of prevailing scholarship misreads the Puritans as a whole. They do note some Puritans miss the mark in their version of preparation for conversion, but most were evangelical on the matter. Beeke and Smalley introduce near a dozen Puritans and examine their work thoroughly to show preparation in the truest sense is a work of the Spirit, not the work of man, and also not at all like the Roman Catholic understanding of preparation by the natural will.
The emphasis on God’s work and grace through out shines. You should walk away, no matter where you fall on the topic of preparation, understanding the Puritans saw the work of salvation from A to Z as a work of God. The natural man apart from grace had no part in the new birth.
If you’re interested in the topic of preparation or historical theology, you’ll love Prepared by Grace, For Grace. The authors are even-handed and survey a smorgasbord of Puritan writing and secondary scholarship. I appreciated many times the way they quoted larger sections of these writings to set the context. It’s slightly more academic than your standard fare, but the work is worth the prize.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Prepared by Grace, For Grace free from Reformation Heritage. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”