Saturday, December 19, 2009

Why I Don't Like the Puritans...

I confess that I don't have a favorable impression of the Puritans. Maybe it's not fair or right and I hope some people can give me some reasons to like them at least a little... But when I pick up a book at random and find a quote like this right away, I ask you, can you blame me?

"Repentance is necessary for God's own people, who have a areal work of grace and are Israelites indeed. They must offer up a daily sacrifice of tears. The Antimomians hold that when any come to be believers, they have a writ of ease, and there remains nothing for them now to do but to rejoice. Yes, they have something else to do, and that is to repent. Repentance is a continuous act. The issue of godly sorrow must not be quite stopped till death..." Thomas Watson, from The Doctrine of Repentance

I'm sorry, but is it any wonder that many of the Puritans struggled with depression and suicide? How terrible a way to live! I agree with much of what I read of repentance concerning the unbelievers, except perhaps the general understanding of what repentance really is. And why in books from all eras do the references never have anything to do with the point the author is making? Do they think we won't look it up and read it in context and see that they have just put in their opinion with a reference tacked on to fool us that it's really God's opinion?

How random a post is this haha....

Oh and one more question: Why is Spurgeon considered a Puritan? I have certainly not read all of his writing but everything I have read seems much more grace-filled and cheerful (don't even get me going on John Owen!), it seems like Spurgeon doesn't fit.


sparrow girl said...

Have you ever read the young people's book The Witch of Blackbird Pond? I love this book and read it after I understood grace. The poor girl goes to live with Puritan relatives and just feels that life is being sucked out of her. Then she is introduced to grace. It's such a wonderful story about grace vs. law and finding the freedom to be ourselves in the presence of unconditional acceptance. I just thought of that when you mentioned Puritans! They do seem a sour lot - I guess they were only propagating what had been taught to them. I agree that Spurgeon seems a lot happier.

Anonymous said...

there is no basis for your type of grace or ultra grace because, jesus NEVER preached it that way - it comes from lusty and greedy preachers who laugh themselves to the bank at your account.

people who subscribe to such "irresponsibility"(one who takes no responsibility because "someone" did all the work) are usually escapist.

they are not in touch with reality or able to face reality and to a certain extend, live in self deception(or constant denial) who probably need psychiatric treatment.

peace and god loves you btw.

Faith said...

Thanks for this article... It gives me a little insight into what the Puritans believed. I recently stumbled onto an online forum called "Puritanboard" which is for those who practice Reformed theology and I wondered what the connection is there between Calvinist/Reformed and Puritan (my knowledge of history in that department is a little lacking). I was looking at some of their beliefs since we have friends who go to a Reformed church and are constantly telling us why what they believe is right. Almost as though they are trying to "convert" us... Anyway, I just wanted to see what it is all about and now I know there is a connection between Reformed and Puritan!

About Anonymous' comment - when I first read it I was very angry. Then I remembered that it wasn't too long ago that I didn't understand grace myself. Yet I still am somewhat angry, just like I get angry with some of my friends' beliefs. I think the reason I get angry though is because I hate that the serpent is selling the same old lie and so many Christians buy into it. Anonymous, I'm sorry you are so bitter about grace, though I would venture to guess you don't understand it yet. Don't worry - If you believe in Jesus as you seem to, He is working on your behalf whether you are "responsible" or not. I promise that life becomes amazing when you let Him be your Responsibility.

Blessings :-)

Anonymous said...

those people living on perpetual welfare will tell you life is amazing.

grown up children who live off their parents will tell you life is amazing

employees who get paid for work their bosses do for them will tell you life is amazing

when you commit a crime the judge acquits you of guilt because an innocent party has taken your punishment will too say life is amazing

only the psychiatrist will say you are amazingly crazy.

Jamie said...

Oh my, Anonymous you have made my day! :D

Didn't you know only crazy people:

walk on water

raise the dead

heal the sick

cast out demons

& preach the Good News?!? (In Jesus' name)

AH!! We are God's Own Fools!! We are most blessed in the loss of our minds. What is sanity when measured against LIFE?

And, YES, YES, YES, you're RIGHT! Life is INCREDIBLY AMAZING when you realize that life can only TRULY be lived by FAITH.

Grace, dear Anonymous, for all the wonderful things you brought to my my favorite song:

You think I'm lovely, beautiful
The best You've ever seen
They say I'm crazy, gullible
'Cause good I've never been
I say I don't care 'cause I know
Who the Father sees
That's why it's all about You
And not about me

They say I'm crazy, crazy
Crazy to believe
Oh, yeah, I'm crazy, crazy
Crazy to believe
But I say I don't care 'cause I know
Who the Father sees
That's why it's all about You
And not about me.


Henry said...

I think that Voice of Grace, Sparrow Girl, and Faith all would profit by reading more by and about the Puritans. There were many of them, and they were not all in complete agreement theologically, although all took the Bible seriously. Some, like Tobias Crisp (who wrote Christ Alone Exalted) were so big on grace that many today feel he went too far in disparaging works. Spurgeon lived after the Puritans, but read them avidly. He published a devotional book based on illustrations from the Puritan Thomas Manton's writings called Flowers from a Puritan's Garden. Mostly, though, Spurgeon was big on the leading Puritan writer (in terms of popularity), John Bunyan. He also published a book called Pictures from Pilgrim's Progress in the preface to which the following is written:
If Mr. Spurgeon were ever prevailed upon to fill up a page of the once-popular Confession Album, I am pretty sure that his
answer to the query, “Who is your favorite author?” was, “John Bunyan.”
He has spoken of him over and over again as “my great favorite,” and has left it on record that he had read The Pilgrim’s Progress at least one hundred times. The reason for his liking is not far to seek. They both loved
“The Book of Books.” Urging the earnest study of the Scriptures, C. H. Spurgeon once said: “Oh, that you and I might get into the very heart of the Word of God, and get that Word into ourselves! As I have seen the silkworm eat into the leaf, and consume it, so ought we to do with the Word of the Lord — not crawl over its surface, but eat right into it till we have taken it into our inmost parts. It is idle merely to let the eye glance over the words, or to recollect the poetical expressions, or the historic
facts; but it is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your very style is fashioned upon
Scripture models, and, what is better still, your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord. I would quote John Bunyan as an instance of what I mean. Read anything of his, and you will see that it is almost like reading
the Bible itself. He had read it till his very soul was saturated with Scripture; and, though his writings are charmingly full of poetry, yet he cannot give us his Pilgrim’s Progress — that sweetest of all prose poems — without continually making us feel and say, ‘Why, this man is a living
Bible!’ Prick him anywhere; his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God. I commend his example to you, beloved.” I would commend his example to you as well. I would urge you to start your study of the Puritans by reading Pilgrim's Progress, which has been the most read book in English apart from the Bible.

lydia said...

Funny my psychiatrist tells me I am quite normal................ :D

Julie, knowing you as I do, I envisioned you saying this out loud and it made me laugh :D

Dan Bowen said...

Question ...

Why do all SGM-ers call him;

"Mr" Spurgeon?

Is it just copying C J Mahaney or is there some deeper reason for it? I just find it odd.

Henry said...

Just to clarify, Pictures from Pilgrim's Progress was left as a manuscript by Spurgeon at his death and was put into print by his son Thomas, who wrote the preface to it from which I quoted.

Anonymous said...

you can't take one man obsessed journey or pilgrim and draw your ultimate truth for everyone.

humanity is too complex to be "boxed" into an extreme experience.

for example, just because i am a musical prodigy does that gives you the right to impose my standard on your tone death child?

the danger of such irrational thinking will lead to impossible life application which will send millions to disillusionment and not the least of all, psychiatric treatment.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you know only crazy people:

walk on water

raise the dead

heal the sick

cast out demons

& preach the Good News?!? (In Jesus' name)

don't tempt me to challenge your theology because, you(or your leaders) will sink WHERE IT COUNTS. lol

Anonymous said...

"Funny my psychiatrist tells me I am quite normal................ :D "

you just proved my pt.

you sought psychiatric services. LOL

(seriously, if grace is that..erm...amazing, why are you paying for such services?LOL)

jul said...

Hi anonymous, I see humor is somewhat lost on you so I'll try to be clear... I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say here, are you just trying to be rude to everyone for the fun of it? You haven't made even one interesting or understandable point yet, though I'll be waiting in case you do soon. It sounds as though you've had a bad experience somewhere? I certainly have and can be very cynical at times as well so that's understandable. But unless you know me or any of my commenters personally I'm not sure what that has to do with us.

It is not the message of grace that causes anyone to need psychiatric treatment, it's trying to live under Law that does that. Guilt and condemnation is the flip side of self-rigteousness and it will come sooner or later, when it does you will see it's a ministry of death, not sanity.

jul said...

Hi Henry, thanks for commenting! I appreciate hearing more about the Puritans. I must say though, I am past being very impressed by any man dead or alive (not to say that I don't appreciate people's ministries) because I've learned they are in the end only human like me. I can love them and learn from them but not put them on a pedastal in any way. I do love to read though my time is limited these days, Pilgrim's Progress seems a good one to consider...I think I do have a biography (or autobiography) of John Bunyon so I could check that too. Have read the journals of another puritan whose name escapes me at the moment (was a missionary to american indians) which also didn't make me want to ascribe to puritanistic beliefs, but as you say there was a lot of diversity among them.

My feeling in general is that I'm interested in learning more but don't feel I'll be missing out on anything important if I don't. That's because I have Jesus and scripture which I believe are sufficient. Don't get me wrong, I do love learning and reading as I've said, just don't think it's absolutely necessary to my relationship with God or spiritual growth. God's Spirit is creative and resourceful when it comes to teaching God's people...

Jamie said...

Hi, Anon.

Come see me at known as Better Than We Know.

I'm always up for being amused and you are SERIOUSLY cracking me up. :)

Henry said...

Thanks for your response. I agree that Jesus and the Scriptures, read with the Spirit's help are sufficient, but I certainly think that the pastors and teachers given by God to the church for the perfecting of the saints (Ephesians 4:11-12) are helps to whom it is wise to give some heed. I would therefore offer an extract from Pilgrim's Progress which will show what you are missing:
"So when the morning was come, the Giant goes to them again, and takes
them into the castleyard, and shows them, as his wife had bidden him.
“These,” said he, “were pilgrims as you are, once, and they trespassed in my grounds, as you have done; and when I thought fit, I tore them in pieces, and so, within ten days, I will do you: get you down to your den
again.” and with that he beat them all the way thither. They lay, therefore, all day on Saturday in a lamentable case, as before. Now, when night was come, and when Mrs. Diffidence and her husband, the Giant, were got to bed, they began to renew their discourse of their prisoners; and withal the
old Giant wondered, that he could neither by his blows nor his counsel bring them to an end. And with that his wife replied, “I fear,” said she, “that they live in hope that some will come to relieve them; or that they
have picklocks about them, by the means of which they hope to escape.”
“And sayest thou so, my dear?” said the giant; “I will, therefore, search them in the morning.”
Well, on Saturday, about midnight, they began to pray, and continued in prayer till almost break of day.
Now, a little before it was day, good Christian, as one half amazed, brake out in this passionate speech: “What a fool,” quoth he, am I, thus to lie in a
stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty! I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle.” Then said Hopeful, “That is good news; good brother; pluck it out of thy bosom, and try.”
Then Christian pulled it out of his bosom, and began to try at the dungeon door, whose bolt as he turned the key gave back, and the door flew open with ease, and Christian and Hopeful both came out. Then he went to the outward door that leads into the castleyard, and, with his key, opened that door also. After, he went to the iron gate, for that must be opened too; but that lock went damnable hard, yet the key did open it. Then they thrust
open the gate to make their escape with speed, but that gate, as it opened, made such a creaking, that it waked Giant Despair, who, hastily rising to pursue his prisoners, felt his limbs to fail, for his fits took him again, so that he could by no means go after them. Then they went on, and came to the King’s highway, and so were safe, because they were out of his

Might I add that David Brainerd, the missionary of whom you spoke, was troubled by melancholy and would be the last kind of person whom it would be helpful for you to read. Try Bunyan instead!

David Peterson said...

In my own search for grace I found myself more and more drawn to Luther and conservative Lutheranism.

I read the writings of conservative Lutheran theologians Pieper and Mueller and found the key: the proper distinction between law and gospel. It was liberating!

Much of Reformed theology is legalistic because it doesn't properly distinguish law and gospel, as in the so-called "Lordship Salvation" teaching of popular preachers.

jul said...

Hi David, welcome and thanks for your comment! Sorry it took me so long to respond, we've been away over the holidays.

I read an excellent article or something once on a Lutheran blog about the distinguishing between law and grace. It may even have been from articles of faith or something, can't remember. I think the main thing that stood out to me was that the gospel is strictly good news and the law is not good news, therefore not part of the gospel.

Anyway, I would be interested to hear more of what your views on it are. What do you believe is the role of the law for believers?