Last week, we explored the historical context of the Puritans - when and where they lived. This week, John and Matthew seek to define the Puritans, dispel stereotypes, and look more closely at two of their core values: 1) Sola Scriptura and 2) Personal Conversion.
You can learn more about the Puritans and Puritan: All of Life to the Glory of God by clicking here.
WHO WERE THE PURITANS?
The term “Puritan” was not something the Puritans coined for themselves. It was actually a derogatory term that came out of their concern with holiness and purity. Needless to say, the term stuck.
The Puritans were not a clearly defined group. But it is representative of men who saw the beauty and truth of the Word and grabbed tightly to Scripture. They were not a thoughtless group, but many of the Puritan movements began in the universities.
1) SOLA SCRIPTURA
While Roman Catholics deemphasized Scripture alone as the highest authority, the Puritans held that Scripture alone is the highest authority because it is the Word of God. The Puritans firmly believed that we cannot trust our hearts, our wills, or our own minds above Scripture. So if we don’t understand a certain passage or find a seeming paradox in the Word, they concluded the problem is with our minds, not with the Bible. Some Protestants subconsciously trusted the mind over the Word. But the Puritans were very careful to make Scripture the all-sufficient source for Christian life and worship.
2) PERSONAL CONVERSION
The Puritans believed that conversion is the starting line, not the finish. In Roman Catholicism, this isn’t the case. Union with Christ comes at the end of a long line of works. But the Puritans held fast to Scripture and its clear expressions of regeneration. It is all of God that makes us alive and able to turn in repentance to Him. What flows out of this is a changed life.
Much like today, to be “nice churchy folk,” and hear, “You must be born again,” preached so boldly from Puritan pulpits would probably ruffle some feathers. Yet each of us, regardless of age, gender, family background, or even Biblical knowledge, must be born again to have a personal relationship with the Living God.
“It hath been one of the Glories of the Protestant Religion, that it revived the Doctrine of Saving Conversion, And of the new creature brought forth thereby.” --Thomas Goodwin
In our Supporter Appreciation Episode this week, John answers how to recommend Puritan works to others for evangelism, discipleship, or sanctification and different ways to read them as a congregation.