Ok, ok, I admit it–I love the Puritans. Love the Puritans.
Whenever I read them, I feel at home. Like I have come to a safe place wherein I know that I will always hear the gospel, receive moral instruction, spiritual edification, and discover anew the glory and majesty of God.
Stale, legalistic, boring are not terms that describe actual Puritans. May they never be used again! Emotional, passionate, animate are much better words for describing the British and North American Puritans of the 17th and 18th centuries. They were the most stubborn of dissenters–not the most demanding conformers! They developed individuals of high character, and penetrating minds. They sought reform, but never without prudence. But most of all, they loved God with every ounce of their being.
They lived enthralled by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their entire world was oriented by and towards it. Their Sunday worship was a celebration, a thanksgiving during which they painstakingly thought through the sermon, each point of doctrine, all deductions of logic, and every movement of exposition. And these same Puritans could write. Their personalities and their character shine through in their composition and endow their theology with incredible force. Elegant prose and clarity of thought flow as naturally from their pens as confusion and ambiguity flow from ours.
Perhaps you don’t understand my passion and appreciation for the Puritans. Maybe you’re even hostile to them. Yet my point is not to obtain from you, agreement with them; I myself often disagree with them. But what I do find is an indissoluble bond between who they were, and the theology they wrote. Theirs was a theology at once rigorously academic, and intensely devotional. Simultaneously technical and precise, but overflowing with deep religious fervor.
This is why I engage them.
I invite you to do the same.
But the Puritan corpus is HUGE!
“Should I read Richard Baxter or John Owen?”, you ask?
“Jonathan Edwards or Stephen Charnock?”, you say?
Perhaps, Thomas Manton?
“Who is that?”, you insist?
Well, since you asked….
It just so happens that A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, the single most comprehensive resource ever produced on Puritan theology is now available. That’s right. Everything you need to get to know the great Puritan theologians in one resource.
Co-written by Puritan scholars Joel Beeke and Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology explored more than 50 areas of puritan theology and particularly emphasizes areas of significant Puritan contribution. Puritan practical theology receives a full eight chapters of examination, and leading Puritan theologians receive detailed individual treatment. It is a work of historical theology–retrieving from the past for understanding today. The result is a unified presentation of the tapestry that is Puritan theology in a single volume that draws the reader closer to the union between Christian life and Christian thought. You can’t read the Puritans as a mere academic exercise, because the academic exercise is always, as a first rule, is an act of worship.