Reformation Month: Day 23

31 Days, 31 Books

The Puritans were the immediate heirs and embodiment of much of the work of the Reformation.  When people in England and Scotland began reading the works of Luther and Calvin and others, they began wondering where and how to start making Reformation happen in their own land.  Henry VIII proved to be a pawn in the Providential Hand of God.  He sought a break with Rome in order to procure a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, but when Parliament restructured the Church of England, a chain of events started.

Those who were reading the Scriptures and the Reformers took adantage of every chink in the political armor.  Of course, neither Henry nor his two daughters desired a truly Reformed Church.  The short-lived King Edward VI would have been far more favorable to reform had he lived longer.  But the people who came to be called Puritans were not easily daunted, swayed, or threatened.  To their way of thinking the world functioned like this:  “The Bible says….;therefore, that is what we need to start doing.”

Over the past 30 plus years, there have been more Puritan books reprinted than ever in all of history.  The Puritans were prolific.  Most were highly educated.  Many were first rate scholars.  The breadth and depth of their knowledge and interests were astounding.  Their desire to draw out and apply the Bible was truly exhaustive and often exhausting.  Their emphases on practical Christianity, on the nurture of the soul, on spiritual disciplines have never been surpassed.

A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones is a gem of a book.  This massive volume contains over 1000 pages with selections from quite a few famous Puritans.  I only recently acquired my copy of this book, so I am not familiar with much beyond the table of contents.  It is quite easy to see what a fine book this is.

Joel Beeke obviously loves the Puritans.  Morever, he has obviously read extensively from the writings of the Puritans.  Meet the Puritans, another of his books, is a great resource for learning who the Puritans were, what individual Puritans wrote, and how they lived.

A survey of Puritan writings could easily turn into an extensive blog.  Years ago, I first became acquainted with lots of Puritan names and history from reading Iain Murray’s The Puritan Hope: Revival and the Interpretation of Prophecy.  Murray’s intent in the book is to discuss the history and abiding validity of Postmillennialism.  The book contains so much history on Puritan views of prayer and revival, that people who are not Postmillennial can read the book with profit.  But beware, Murray’s enthusiasm and the Puritans’ hope and the Biblical doctrines in this book are powerful.

The Puritan Hope by Iain Murray

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