Monday, January 12, 2009

A Review of The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson

Author: Thomas Watson

Pages: 122 pages

Publisher: Banner of Truth

Price: 6.00

Genre: Puritan Paperback/Christian Living

Quick Summary:

Repentance: One word used frequently in the Bible yet little does it touch our lips. Apparently the problem is not relegated to the 21st century in America. It must have also been a problem in Puritan England. And for the church of Puritan England Thomas Watson wrote The Doctrine of Repentance; first published in 1668. The Lord has saw fit to grace our society with this work on repentance.

As the back cover comments, “Knowing what repentance is, and actually repenting are essential to true Christianity”. Watson hopes to show us what repentance is and what it really means to repent. Watson spends the early part of this work on unmasking counterfeit repentance and displaying the nature of true repentance. The latter part of the book is Watson’s passionate plea for his readers to repent.

What I Liked:

The first half of the book really shines. In our “tolerant” world the one thing we can not bear to tolerate is the mention of sin. When someone out of such a culture comes to understand the gospel such words as repentance can still be difficult to swallow. We are often tempted to confuse feeling sorry or confession with repentance. Watson makes clear what repentance really is: “True leaving of sin is when the acts of sin cease from the infusion of a principle of grace, as the air ceases to be dark from the infusion of light”. Watson writes in a clear, practical, and yet penetrating manner.

What I Disliked:

Sometimes the lines are blurred as to who exactly Watson’s audience is. Is he speaking to an unrepentant believer or to an unrepentant unbeliever? Perhaps his exhortations would have remained the same but I found myself confused by certain parts. For instance, “Till the sinner repents, God and he cannot be friends”. (59) Is this talking about the unbeliever, if so then I whole-heartedly agree? But if this is talking about the believer it causes me to pause and consider whether Watson is really correct on this point.

The first part of the book really shines but in the second half when Watson exhorts toward repentance the motivation he uses is not necessarily grounded in the gospel. In reading The Godly Man’s Picture there were times when I thought Watson got a little off track in his understanding of the gospel, I sense the same thing in this work. But then again, it could always be me that is off track.

Should You Buy It?

I would most certainly recommend this book. Even considering the things that I dislike this work is still a very important work. If one is considering a study on repentance I would suggest adding Watson’s work to your list, but do not stop there. You also need to read How People Change by Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp. It would also serve the reader well to read an excellent work by Kerry Skinner: The Joy of Repentance

Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the post! You might consider "Repentance" by Thomas Boston and "A Treatise On Regeneration" by Peter Van Mastricht. Have you read the book about being spiritually minded by John Owen yet? If so, could you please post a comment on it?



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