Saturday, 9 March 2013

The Puritan Tradition: To Be Continued ...

The body of puritan literature is immense. J. I. Packer describes in his book called "Among God's Giants" (now republished as "A Quest for Godliness") that those puritan pastors were like "American Redwoods" in theological stature. There has been much discussion in recent decades as to the exact definition of the word "puritan" but also the time-frame that they filled. While it is true that the name "puritan" was originally a slur term, the principles that the puritans stood for are not so complex. These can be summarised under three main headings, of which there are three main puritan and New Testament ideals. These ideals all relate to the church; the puritan tradition and the church are inextricably linked. These goals were:

1). To contend for the purity of doctrine
2). The purity of public and family worship
3). The Purity of church government

With respect to the purity of doctrine, the apex of the puritan movement was the production of the Westminster Standards, which comprises one confession of faith, and a smaller and larger catechism. In my view, these provide the best summary of the Christian faith in the English language. They have since been translated and used in many other languages, such as German or Korean, enforcing the idea that they comprise international biblical doctrines for worldwide usage.

Another point is the time-frame of the puritans. It is best to realise that the puritans represent a historical moment in primarily British church history between 1560 and 1660, approximately. Sometimes you read of someone claiming that Charles Spurgeon or some other famous preacher, as being "the last Puritan". I would like to challenge such an assertion. Why? It is because the puritans do indeed represent a particular time frame and secondly because there is no such "last puritan". Why? Puritanism represents three main biblical ideals which should be contended for in the church until the second coming of Christ. The puritan tradition is to be continued ...

Listen to Jude 3: "Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints". The puritan ideals should form part of the churches great commission in every generation. I do not mean through looking back to the puritan writers only, but through contending for the church, this is a living a vision. A vision that has "hands and feet" as it were. Will you join this vision?

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