Review of "The Westminster Assembly" by Robert Letham

The Westminster Assembly, Reading Its Theology In Historical Context by Robert Letham, P&R, 2009, 399 pp.
As the subtitle of the book indicates, The Westminster Assembly is not so much about the history of the period (i.e. the 1640s in England) but is focused on the historical development of the theology present at the Westminster assembly. Letham’s focused study brings him to conclude that much of the criticism of the Westminster Confession of Faith from mid-20th century theologians like Karl Barth and T. F. Torrance was anachronistic; critiquing Westminster using forms of thought which had not yet emerged in that period.
Though the book was interesting to read in places, if often was fairly dry and read more like a reference text book as it analyzed the confession point by point.
I found Letham’s tone at times to sound somewhat arrogant. Most of his references to theologians who have commented on the Westminster Confession were in order to disagree with them. This includes not only Barth and Torrance, but orthodox theologians including A. A. Hodge and B. B. Warfield. This is all well-and-good and within Letham’s right to do so. But, I was less forgiving of some of Letham’s references to his own works. He writes, for example, “I have argued elsewhere for the balancing of legal and judicial focus of Western soteriology by the Eastern doctrine of deification.” That is a lot to process and a somewhat surprisingly claim to then be passed over. In the margin of my copy of the book I noted “Letham likes Letham.”
I did learn a number of things from this book.  Letham shows that while there was some diversity of thought among the divines at Westminster, the overall tenor of the assembly (and of the Church of England leading up to it) was strongly Calvinistic. Quoting MacCulloch, he writes, “Cranmer’s ‘middle ways’ was not a midpoint between the Reformation and Rome, but ‘between Wittenburg and Zurich.'” (p. 52) Also, I was intrigued in learning of “English hypothetical universalists” who predated Amyraldianism.
While this book was a worthwhile read, I have to imagine there are better books on the subject.