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Faith in the Time of Plague (Coleman & Rester)

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Westminster Seminary Press

We often hear the Covid-19 pandemic described as “unprecedented”, yet for Christians of earlier times, plague was nothing new. For generations, Church leaders regularly faced the sorts of ethical questions that still prove divisive today.

Selecting from the great “plague writings” of the historic church, Todd M. Rester and Stephen M. Coleman have translated and assembled a one-of-a-kind anthology. The wisdom of the past collected in this book offers much needed and trustworthy illumination for pastors, leaders, and laypeople in times of crisis and uncertainty.

Many of the works appearing in Faith in the Time of Plague have never been available in English until now. Included in this volume are the writings of Martin Luther, Theodore Beza, Ulrich Zwingli, Cyprian of Carthage, Zacharias Ursinus, Gijsbert Voetius, and many more.

Introduced by Peter A. Lillback, Faith in the Time of Plague also includes a Foreword from Mayo Clinic Virologist, Dr. Gregory A. Poland.



Stephen M. Coleman (PhD, The Catholic University of America) is assistant professor of Old Testament and biblical languages at Westminster Theological Seminary, co-editor of the Westminster Theological Journal, and senior research fellow at the J. Alan Groves Center for Advanced Biblical Research. A graduate of Grove City College (BA, 2002), Westminster Seminary California (MDiv, 2005), and The Catholic University of America (MA, 2010/PhD, 2016), he previously served as associate pastor at Wallace Presbyterian Church in College Park, Maryland (2008–2017) and Assistant Pastor of Valley Presbyterian Church in North Hills, California (2005–2008).

Todd M. Rester (PhD, Calvin Theological Seminary) is associate professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary. Dr. Rester is a post-doctoral research fellow at Queen’s University Belfast (September 2016–present). During his time as a research fellow at Queen’s University Belfast, Dr. Rester has served the institution as a guest lecturer in the Master of Arts, History of Religion department as well as various undergraduate history courses. In addition to his time at Queen’s University Belfast, Dr. Rester has taught as an adjunct professor at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary (2010–2016), Kuyper College (2013–2015), and Calvin Theological Seminary (2011–2015). He also works as a translator for the Dutch Reformed Translation Society (2009–present). Dr. Rester’s academic interests include but are not limited to: the history of the doctrine of Scripture and its reception; early modern and Enlightenment conflicts between theology and philosophy on general and special revelation; and early modern and post-Enlightenment models of missiology.



“When Christians face an outbreak of deadly disease, they wrestle with many questions about God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, science and the Bible, faith and fear, grief and worship, and prudence and faithfulness. What we sometimes forget is that godly people have thought through these issues centuries before us, and we can learn much from them. This collection of writings on the plague by Reformers and Reformed orthodox theologians is full of wisdom and comfort for the crises of our modern era.” - Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary

“What a tremendous pastoral resource this is for the trying days in which we live. Our Christian forebears of the early modern era, who lived through times as grim and fearsome as ours—some might say that grimmer days were theirs—have much to teach us about living for God in times of fear and dread. Although our technological resources for dealing with pestilence and pandemic are far greater than theirs, the deep sensibilities of the heart are the same and it is there, within those affections, that we need to heed their voices. Most welcome and highly recommended.” - Michael A.G. Haykin, Chair and Professor of Church History, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“We are often told that the coronavirus pandemic has thrown us into unprecedented times. Faith in the Time of Plague shows that such a description is historically myopic: there is nothing new about pestilence and plague. By gathering rich reflections on contagious disease from great Protestant theologians like Beza, Voetius, and Luther—Christians who wrote theology against a backdrop of plague—this volume has given us a helpful resource with which to approach the challenges of our own (thoroughly precedented) times.” - James Eglinton, Meldrum Senior Lecturer in Reformed Theology, University of Edinburgh