Why Read the Puritans?
Timmy Brister challenges us to get acquainted with the Puritans in 2008. He gives us five very compelling reasons, with good Baptist alliteration (I have edited as needed for spelling and other foibles):
First, the Puritans had a relentless pursuit of God. In their writings you will find believers who knew their God deeply through a rich God-centeredness that affected every area of their lives. We are living in a day where it is hard to find folks who know their God well. Second, the Puritans were physicians of souls. These men studied themselves and had a real, experiental knowledge of Christianity. Nowhere will you find more “uses” and applications for your life than in their writings. Not only did they know God well, they knew the minds, hearts, and consciences of men well. Third, the Puritans possessed genuine piety because they knew how to fight the fight of faith. These men took direct aim at indwelling sin and fought hard for their personal sanctification. Their writings are incredibly pastoral and at the same time intimately convicting. Fourth, the Puritans are pacesetters in church history. They ran in such a way to win, and whether it is their study of Scripture, commitment to family worship, personal devotion to prayer, or caring for the souls in their community, these men ran and ran hard. Fifthly, reading the Puritans will provide you a healthy perspective so as to prevent chronological snobbery. Let’s face it. It is tempting to read only what is novel, trendy, and popular. Yet it is worthwhile to read books 100 years or older to understand how Christians lived, face struggles, dealt with issues (doctrinal, ecclesiological, ethical, etc.), and experienced God. Frankly speaking, you will not find anything close to Owen, Watson, Brooks, and Baxter on the front shelves of your local bookstore.
Timmy also offers three ways we can do this next year:
- Get a copy of The Valley of Vision and meditate on the prayers as part of your daily devotions.
- Commit to reading one Puritan Paperback a month. (He includes a sample monthly schedule)
- Read about the lives and stories of the Puritans.
As I am planning to make 2008 a year of consciously practicing personal spiritual disciplines, I have to say Timmy’s suggestion is one of the best I’ve heard. I’d suggest all of you follow suit! Let’s make it a monthly Puritan read for 2008, and we’ll discuss here!