What comes to mind when you think of the word Puritan? Maybe witch hunts and burning people at the stake, superstition, and strong religiosity? Or maybe holy, honest, pious, and godly comes to mind? Or maybe you don’t even know who the Puritans were. Many books and movies portray them as super legalistic and horrifying people. Books like, “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne and movies modeled after that book are simply false portrayals of the Puritans. The Puritan movement started with a man by the name of William Perkins.
The movement gained strength when Christians were kicked out of their jobs, forced to resign, and increasingly persecuted—just as they are now. The Puritans were also motivated by an increasing disquiet at the way Christianity was being misrepresented by leaders in the state church and in the highest ranks of government. That same disquiet grows in many Christians today. And just as William Perkins trained a generation of “Puritans”, so today there are an unprecedented number of Baptist seminaries—not to mention churches and parachurch ministries—which are raising up a new generation of “Puritans”.
Baptist have their foundation in the Puritan movement. In fact when the 293 delegates who assembled in Augusta, Georgia in 1845 to form the SBC, came from churches or associations that held to the Philadelphia Confession of Faith or what is also called the 1689 London Baptist Confession—The Puritan Baptist confession of faith. We have a list of famous Baptist puritans in our history and few who were heavily influenced by them. John Owens, Matthew Henry, John Gill, Jonathan Edwards, and Charles Spurgeon to name a few.
I would love to go on and on about the Puritans in this post but due to the lack of space I would just like to encourage you to read a few books about the Puritans. A few recommendations from me would be, “A Quest for Godliness” by J. I. Packer, “The Whole Christ” by Sinclair Ferguson, and “Worldly Saints” by Leland Ryken. I will write more later about the Puritans and different ones who have influenced my life.
In Christ, Pastor Daniel