Awesome Puritans Get a Bum Rap!

An engraved illustration of the Pilgrim Fathers leaving England, from a Victorian book dated 1886 that is no longer in copyrigh

In modern times, the earliest American settlers have been wrongly whitewashed as a dour, always somber-faced people who led unpleasant legalistic lives constrained by an overly oppressive and complex matrix of strict rules they believed had Biblical origin. Ugh! Who would want to live that way?

However, to understand a historical people, it is always far better to read what they said and wrote themselves, rather than rely on third party historians who are often biased. The process is called using primary source material.

The Puritans left or handed down an abundance of personal diaries attesting to their colorful clothing (They may have worn black and whites on Sunday morning.), vibrant sense of humor, and enthusiasm for throwing a good party. Their personal testimonies are at stark odds with the modern stereotype.

Nevertheless, there is an overarching principle that drove the everyday lives of the Puritans, a principle that we desperately need to learn today. They made no distinction between the sacred and the secular. To the Puritans, all of life is sacred. Their view is refreshing, incredibly simple, elegant, and powerful.

But how did they derive such a view? The Puritans regarded every moment and every breath we take as a gift from our awesome, loving, God. What we do with every moment and every breath we take is our gift back to God. It our expression of gratitude, guided by His love for us.

The holistic Puritan view and example does not mean that we should live each day with a persimmon-mouth appearance, driven by an overly churchy attitude, while living the monastic life of a medieval monk.

It does mean that an overarching purpose of our life is to love and meet the needs of others. It also means that, whether we are with our family, at work, or enjoying recreational pursuits, we are continually sensitive to God’s desire for our life and well-being. After all, since He created us, He knows what is best for us and that deviations from God’s best always carry a price, sometimes a painfully heavy price. What is best for us? His Word, the Bible says it best!

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

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