I have been meaning to tell readers of this blog about a great program going on over at my friend Timmy Brister’s blog, Provocations & Pantings. Timmy is an MDiv student at Southern Seminary with a great passion for church health, evangelism, and the glorification of God. He’s a good friend and an encouragement to me. His program is called the Puritan Reading Challenge. Basically, Timmy has come up with the idea of reading one paperback by one Puritan each month of this year. He’s invited people to join with him in reading the paperback and in discussing the work together. He’s got the whole thing worked out so that those who participate in the Challenge receive a massive discount from a couple of booksellers. He’s also got interviews with men like Mark Dever on the Puritans. I highly encourage you to check the Challenge out over at Timmy’s blog.
I’m excited about this program because it is designed to acquaint people with the Puritans, authors of a treasure trove of literature that is largely undiscovered in many Christian circles today. The Puritans have a wide variety of reputations, with some saying that they’re detached prudes, others saying that they’re legalist doctrinaires, but in the end, they were godly people who lived with a big view of their Lord and who sought to honor Him on a daily basis. They were not perfect, but they did have a healthy view of God, man, and the Christian life, and for this reason I would encourage most anyone to pick up a Puritan paperback and read it. The books in Timmy’s series aren’t that long, and they’re full of rich doctrinal meditation and searching practical application.
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, experimental 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 were 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.
If you’re interested, leave a comment for Timmy at his blog and he’ll get back to you with more info.