QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

 

 

We are often asked questions about this website, and we would like to share with you our answers to some of these commonly asked questions:

 

 

1. How do you define yourself as a puritan?

 

The principles of Puritanism are most comprehensively and magnificently expressed in the Westminster Standards, which include the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and the Westminster Larger Catechism .  Their foundational doctrine is this: " The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men."  A puritan is one who believes the Westminster Standards accurately summarize what Scripture teaches, and seeks to live consistent with this belief.

 

 

 

2. What was the historical context of the Westminster Standards?

 

The Westminster Standards were authored by an assembly of puritan ministers and elders in the seventeenth century.  The Parliaments of England and Scotland commissioned this assembly to compose a confession of faith, catechisms, and a church order to be used by the established churches of the united kingdoms.  They had covenanted in the Solemn League and Covenant of 1642 to follow Jesus Christ as nations in accordance with such a Reformed confession.  All nations of the earth are to be so covenanted to Christ, even as Israel was of old.

 

The Westminster Standards are consistent with earlier Reformed confessions of the Protestant Reformation, such as the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dordt. 

 

 

 

3.  Please explain what the aims of the puritan reform movement are, and the strategy that is being used to accomplish them.

 

The aim is to bring everything into subjection to Jesus Christ, as He has revealed in His Word.  This would include individuals, families, churches, and states.  This will only be achieved in its fullest sense with Christ’s Return, for human sin will be present until the Great Day of Judgment.  Yet Scripture promises a millennial restoration before Christ’s Return.  It will be a period in which the nations of the earth will be Reformed, and it will be grander in scope than even the Protestant Reformation.

 

The primary method from a human standpoint to bring this restoration about will be the proclamation of the Reformed Gospel, through preaching and writing. 

 

But the ultimate reason it will occur is because God will convert people’s minds to embrace the Reformed Gospel and then to implement it within the realms of their authority.  So civil rulers will enforce the Ten Commandments appropriate to their sphere of authority, ecclesiastical rulers will enforce them appropriate to their sphere of authority, heads of families in theirs,  etc.

 

 

 

4. Please tell me how many reformist puritans there are today. Where are they residing?  National or International?

 

We have no numerical statistics.  But we recommend the churches of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, believing they are the most consistent with the puritan principles of this website.  But there are certainly other churches as well seeking these ends, such as The Puritan Reformed Church of Brazil (Kalleyan) churches,  The Free Church of Scotland Continuing churches, WPCUS churches,  Presbyterian Reformed churches, Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland churches, etc.   Puritanism has a truly international presence.

 

 

 

5. Why do you especially recommend the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and how do you defend its distinctive positions?

 

There are various articles available at this website, as well as other websites, explaining why we especially recommend the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (which we believe seeks to be the successor of the historic Church of Scotland) and defending positions consistent with the standards of the historic Church of Scotland.  Below are some of the articles by topic:

 

Topic

Links to Articles On-Site and Off-Site

Assurance of Salvation

Westminster Confession chapter 18

Attire

http://www.puritans.net/news/attire040604.htm , http://www.puritans.net/news/naked070104.htm , http://www.puritans.net/news/dress080907.htm

Authorized Version of Bible in Public Worship 

http://www.fpchurch.org.uk/Beliefs/AuthorisedVersion.php

Baptism of Infants

http://www.puritans.net/tracts/baptism.html

Baptism of the Roman Catholic Church

http://www.puritans.net/news/catabaptism091905.htm , http://www.puritans.net/news/romanbaptism081505.htm

Bible versions and textual criticism

http://www.puritans.net/news/bibletext070805.htm , http://www.puritans.net/news/bibletext082604.htm

Cameronianism

http://www.puritans.net/news/magistrate072804.htm , http://www.puritans.net/news/slc061405.htm

Charismatic Movement 

http://reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/charismt.htm

Choirs in Public Worship

http://www.puritans.net/tracts/choirs.html

Christian Sabbath observance on the Lord’s Day

http://www.puritans.net/news/sabbath032207.htm , http://reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/sabbath2.htm

Christmas observance

http://entrewave.com/view/reformedonline/Christmas%20(web).htm , http://www.puritans.net/news/holydays120505.htm

Civil magistrate

http://www.puritans.net/tracts/bothtables.html

Common cup in the Lord’s Supper

http://www.puritans.net/news/commoncup050605.htm

Completion of Scripture and the Cessation of Apostolic and Prophetic Gifts

http://www.puritans.net/news/revelation020510.htm , http://reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/charismt.htm

Contraception

http://www.puritans.net/news/contraception110405.htm

Covenant of Works

Westminster Confession chapter 7

Creedal subscription

http://www.puritans.net/news/subscription050207.htm , http://www.puritans.net/news/confessionalsubscription030810.htm

Dancing

http://www.covenanter.org/IMather/arrowagainstmixtdancing.htm

Declaratory Act

http://www.puritans.net/news/declaratoryact030810.htm

Denominational and church affiliation

http://www.puritans.net/news/biblicalrealism021207.htm , http://www.puritans.net/news/bend021907.htm

Divorce and Re-Marriage

Westminster Confession chapter 24 , http://www.puritans.net/news/divorce012910.htm

Doctrines of Grace and Predestination

http://www.reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/fivepts.htm , http://www.puritans.net/tracts/grace.html

Drama and Stage-Plays

http://www.puritans.net/movie%20reviews/moviereviews.html

Easter Observance

http://www.puritans.net/news/holydays120505.htm

Education

http://www.puritans.net/news/education090704.htm

Establishment Principle

http://www.puritans.net/news/democracy020205.htm , http://www.puritans.net/tracts/bothtables.html , http://www.puritans.net/news/establishmentprinciple111411.htm

Exclusive Psalmody

http://reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/psalm.htm , http://www.puritans.net/tracts/psalmody.html

Face Painting 

http://www.covenanter.org/Attire/FacePainting/facepaintinghome.htm

Federal Vision Heresy and its Toleration within NAPARC

http://reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/The%20Current%20Crisis%20in%20the%20OPC%20and%20PCA.htm

Female Church Officers (or at least Toleration of it within one’s denomination)

http://reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/deacon.htm

Freemasonry

http://www.equip.org/articles/the-masonic-lodge-and-the-christian-conscience

Free Offer of the Gospel

http://www.puritans.net/news/wellmeantofferdebate120707.htm and “Sum of Saving Knowledge” treatise at http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html

Gaming and Gambling  

http://www.covenanter.org/IMather/increasemathertestimony.htm#dicing, http://www.puritans.net/news/recreations122710.htm

Guarding of the communion table

http://www.puritans.net/news/lordstable041405.htm

Hair dying

http://www.puritans.net/news/hairdying041207.htm

Hair length

http://the-holdfast.blogspot.com/2007/02/long-hair-and-feminity.html

Headcovering in public worship

http://www.bible-researcher.com/headcovering.html , http://reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/HeadCoveringsrevised.htm

Historicism and the Papal Man of Sin

http://www.historicism.net/

Historic Post-Millennialism

http://www.historicism.net/

Homosexuality

http://reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/homosex.htm

Hour that Christian Sabbath Begins

http://www.puritans.net/news/sabbath042110.htm

Husband’s Role in Choosing a Church

http://www.puritans.net/news/husband072010.htm

Images of any of the Three Persons of the Trinity

http://reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/Are%20Pictures%20of%20Christ%20Unbiblical.htm#_ftnref1

Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness through Faith Alone

http://www.reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/just.htm]

Jewelry

http://www.puritans.net/news/attire040604.htm

Lots

http://www.covenanter.org/IMather/increasemathertestimony.htm#dicing, http://www.puritans.net/news/recreations122710.htm

Man of Sin

http://www.historicism.net/

Marriage to relatives

http://www.puritans.net/news/affinity092606.htm

Movie and Stage Play Entertainment

http://www.puritans.net/movie%20reviews/moviereviews.html , http://www.puritans.net/news/recreations122710.htm

Multi-Denominational Councils like NAPARC

http://www.puritans.net/news/multidenominational012108.htm

Musical instruments in public worship

http://reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/music.htm , http://www.puritans.net/tracts/instruments.html

Name of church

http://www.puritans.net/news/name041207.htm

Paedobaptism

http://www.puritans.net/tracts/baptism.html

Political Alliances

http://www.apuritansmind.com/GeorgeGillespie/GeorgeGillespieForbiddenAlliances.htm

Prayer Before and After Each Meal

http://www.puritans.net/news/mealprayers070708.htm

Presbyterian church government (versus independent church government)

http://www.puritans.net/news/presbyterianism070106.htm , http://www.archive.org/details/divinerightofchu00thed

Preterism

http://www.puritans.net/polemicaltracts.html

Principles for selecting a church

http://www.puritans.net/news/biblicalrealism021207.htm

Protesting synodical decisions

http://www.puritans.net/news/protest050107.htm

Providential Preservation of God’s Infallible Word in the Received Text (versus the Critical Text)

http://www.oldpathspublications.org/defended.html

Regulative principle of worship and Christmas

http://entrewave.com/view/reformedonline/Christmas%20(web).htm

Romish Mass attendance

http://www.puritans.net/news/lordmackaycase081505.htm

Sabbath public transport

http://www.puritans.net/news/sabbathpublictransport042605.htm

Six-Day Creation (literal)

Westminster Confession chapter 4

Sola Scriptura

http://reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/sola.htm

Sports and games

http://www.puritans.net/news/olympics081904.htm

Standing for Prayer in Public Worship

http://www.fpchurch.org.uk/Beliefs/StandingAtPrayer.php

Ten Commandments (Their Abiding Authority)

 

Theocracy

http://www.puritans.net/news/democracy020205.htm , http://www.puritans.net/tracts/bothtables.html

Three-Office View of Church Office

http://www.puritans.net/news/threeofficeview050107.htm

Unlawful Marriage (due to close affinity relations)

http://www.puritans.net/news/affinity092606.htm

Use of Thou/Thy/Thee in Addressing God

http://www.puritans.net/news/thou062205.htm

Well Meant Offer

http://www.puritans.net/tracts/offer.html

Westminster Standards (versus subsequent amendments) 

http://www.fpchurch.org.uk/Beliefs/cof/index.php

Worship Morning and Evening 

http://www.puritans.net/news/twoservices050807.htm

 

These articles represent our personal beliefs and rationale for those beliefs, and are in *no wise* official pronouncements or statements of belief of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. 

 

Someone might object that it is presumptuous to believe one denomination is the right one to join and the others are not.  But Charles P. Krauth correctly rebutted that opinion in his book Conservative Reformation and its Theology (1871) with this insightful quote: “No particular Church has, on its own showing, a right to existence, except as it believes itself to be the most perfect form of Christianity, the form which of right should and will be universal. No Church has a right to a part which does not claim that it should belong to the whole. That communion confesses itself a sect which aims at no more than abiding as one of a number of equally legitimated bodies. That communion which does not believe in the certainity of the ultimate acceptance of its principles in the whole world has not the heart of a true Church. That which claims to be Catholic de facto claims to be Universal de jure.”

 

 

 

6.  Please define "historicism." I have seen that word mentioned in your writings. How does it relate to the puritans?

 

Historicism was the standard interpretation of scriptural prophecy from Wycliffe to Spurgeon (500 years) and is known as the Protestant interpretation in distinct contrast to Preterism and Futurism, which were Jesuit interpretations, contrived during the counterreformation.  Historicism teaches that biblical predictions are being fulfilled throughout history and continue to be fulfilled today. The Book of Revelation is a pre-written history of the Church from the time of its writing to the future Second Advent of Christ, which shall usher in the new heaven and new earth. There are many reasons to believe that the Book of Revelation, along with other prophetic portions of scripture, outline the entire history of Christ’s Church between His First and Second Advents, and do not merely focus on the beginning or ending of that time period. 

Historicists agree on the following unique concepts:

  • The "Time, Times and Half a time," "3 1/2 years," "1260 days", and "42 month" time period, which occurs seven times in Daniel and Revelation, is understood by historicists to be fulfilled in history.  And it is to be interpreted according to the Year-Day principle.  According to the "Year-Day" principle, in prophetic language, a day of symbolic time represents a year of actual, historic time.
  • All historicists believe that the Papacy is that Anti-Christ, the Man of Sin of II Thessalonians 2, and a Beast of Revelation 13.
  • Historicists generally agree the 5th trumpet (Rev. 9: 1-6) refers to the golden age of the Arabs with the emergence of Islam under Mohammed, and the 6th trumpet (Rev. 9: 13-15) refers to the Turks.
  • All historicists agree that the Book of Revelation prophesies the history of the Church from the Apostolic Era to the future Second Advent of Jesus Christ.

For more information about historicism, you are encouraged to visit our sister website- the website of Historicism Research Foundation .

Puritans were historicists, and post-millennial historicism is incorporated into the Westminster Standards. 

 

 

7.  What is your philosophy of history?

 

The glory of Jesus Christ is the end of all history.  Jesus Christ is glorified in His Church.  The life and ministry of Jesus Christ was foreshadowed in the history of the Old Testament Church, and it is mirrored in the history of the New Testament Church.  For a brief outline of these histories read the article Parallel Histories .

 

 

 

8. What is your philosophy of ethics?

 

'Good', 'bad', 'right', and 'wrong' (in their absolute sense) are universally understood and employed concepts among mankind.  Their universal comprehensibility is the reason people from all over the world can and do become Christians.  Even communists, fascists, and other secular humanists use the terms, though the terms are really contrary to their philosophies.  If man, as well as a carrot, are simply the product of a materialistic evolutionary process of chance atomic activity, then killing a man and eating him is no more wrong in any absolute sense than killing a carrot and eating it.  Yet even secular humanists assert that various forms of harm to mankind (or at least to certain humans) are wrong.

 

For Reformed Christianity, the Word of God is the ultimate source of authority on ethics.  And according to the Word of God, morality is summarized in the Ten Commandments.  True ethics not only considers how men treat other men, but also how men treat God.  Moral goodness means loving God as well as loving men, in truth.  True love to God and men is manifested when we obey the Ten Commandments.

 

Roman Catholic ethics differs from Reformed (or puritan) ethics.  In Roman Catholicism, the Church and its supposedly infallible Pope are the ultimate source of authority on ethics.  Even though such practices as Lent, prayer to the saints, adoration of Mary, recognition of Papal authority, etc. are absent from Scripture, their observance is incorporated into Roman Catholic ethics because Roman Catholicism looks to a different foundation of moral authority from Reformed Protestantism.

 

 

 

9. What would Cotton Mather have to say about modern America? What things about our culture would he be or not be pleased with? How have our values as Americans changed since the 1600's?

 

It is safe to say that he would regard us as a modern day version of Sodom and Babylon.  Modern America is in flagrant rebellion against every one of the Ten Commandments, and hence has rejected Puritanism.  It consists of rampant false religion, idolatry, blasphemies, Sabbath desecration, disregard of authority, murderous abortion, adultery, divorce, sodomy, theft, lying (such as government sponsored indoctrination in Darwinian evolution), and materialism.  Most of these ills occur with impunity. 

 

This is quite a contrast with Puritan New England (led by such men as John Winthrop), Calvin's Geneva , Knox's Scotland, etc.  In all of these places Reformed Protestantism was the established religion.  And the political philosophy was reflected in this statement from the Westminster Confession:

 

"God, the Supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him over the people, for his own glory and the public good; and to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil-doers… The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven: yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed."

 

On the other hand, Cotton Mather may not have been so surprised by the spiritual declension in America, and the Puritan Jonathan Edwards certainly would not have been.  Indeed, Jonathan Edwards predicted there would be a general spiritual declension before the millennial restoration, writing: "We have all reason to conclude from the Scriptures, that just before this work of God begins, it will be a very dark time with respect to the interests of religion in his world. It has been so before preceding glorious revivals of religion: when Christ came, it was an exceeding degenerate time among the Jews; and so it was a very dark time before the Reformation." ( The History of Redemption by Edwards).

 

Just as ancient Israel fell into spiritual declension and even Babylonian captivity following the glorious days of King David, so the world has fallen since the days of the Protestant Reformation.  Yet, just as ancient Israel enjoyed a restoration following its hard days, so the world will experience a restoration.  But we should not be surprised if there is first more spiritual declension.

 

 

 

10.What role did education serve to our Puritan ancestors? What function does education play in the lives of modern puritans, young and old? How important is education considered?

 

Education was and is vital to Puritanism.  As the Westminster Shorter Catechism notes, “man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”  Scripture-based education is necessary so that man might glorify God in truth.   Men are by nature foolish and depraved, not glorifying God in the manner He commands.  While only God can regenerate the mind of man from this native depravity, education is the human means employed to inform and mold the mind in the right direction.  This education will only be successful though if God chooses to bless the means and regenerate the mind and heart. 

 

 

 

11. I noticed in The Puritans’ Homeschool Curriculum, classic works such as the Bay Psalm Book and the New England Primer are used in teaching young children. I have heard that the New England Primer is the very first mass-produced school text book created in America. Is this true? Did you revise these works or is the original text used in the curriculum? Why do you consider these important works to expose people to at an early age?

 

Puritans dominated British North America in literature, education, and scholarship.  The Bay Psalm Book was both the first book printed in British North America and it was also the first book entirely written in the Colonies.  The first printing press in New England was purchased and imported specifically to print this book.  The Puritans’ Homeschool Curriculum builds the learning of psalm singing into its curriculum.

 

The New England Primer was first published before 1690.  It was the book from which most of the children of colonial America learned to read, the first mass-produced school textbook created in America.   The book was reprinted many times, with various changes in text and even in title.  It properly combined instruction in elementary grammar with instruction in the foundations of the Christian faith, both being necessary elements to train up a child in the way he should go.   The Puritans’ Homeschool Curriculum incorporates sections from various editions of the New England Primer into its textbooks. 

 

 

 

12.  Many people will cite the Salem witch trials of 1692 as the downfall of the powerful puritan status quo that had existed. What do you think about the witch trials?

People are right to condemn the witch trials as they were conducted, but they are wrong in some of their conclusions about the trials.  To their credit, the puritans themselves repented of the way the trials were conducted.   In fact, in 1697 all parties, including ministers and government officials, agreed to a colony-wide "Day of Prayer and Fasting" for this sinful error.  This confession was then made:

"...as to the Guilt contracted, upon the opening of the late Commission of Oyer and Terminer at Salem (to which the order for this Day relates) he is, upon many accounts, more concerned that any that he knows of, Desires to take the Blame and Shame of it, Asking pardon of Men, And especially desiring prayers that God, who has an Unlimited Authority, would pardon that Sin and all other his Sins; personal and Relative: And according to his infinite Benignity, and Sovereignty, Not Visit the Sin of him, or of any other, upon himself or any of his, nor upon the Land. . . "

Governor William Phips put an end to the Salem witch trials precisely because there was the recognition that innocent people were being prosecuted without sufficient tangible evidence of their guilt.  Innocent people were being incriminated based upon unsubstantiated accusation.

But most people in subsequent centuries have drawn erroneous conclusions about the trials.  One erroneous conclusion is that the Salem witch trials totally discredit puritan society in general.  There is no society in human history that has been free of blemishes.  One way to judge a society is how it responds to the blemish- whether it denies the blemish or whether it recognizes and corrects the blemish.  As noted, Puritan New England acknowledged the sin and repented of it.  Another erroneous conclusion is that the trials brought down Puritanism in New England, which is really not the case.  Although it weakened conservative Puritanism, established Puritanism lasted for decades in New England following the trials.  Finally, some err by suggesting that the Salem witch trials discredit any form of trial for witchcraft.  This suggestion is directly contrary to Scripture, which says: “There shall not be found among you [any one] that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, [or] that useth divination, [or] an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.  For all that do these things [are] an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.”  (Exodus 22:18, Deuteronomy 18:10).  Every society in human history which has failed to suppress false religion, has been given over by God in judgment to horrible sins against man, including sins like murderous abortion and covenant-breaking adultery.  As God’s Word declares, “And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient: Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful…”

 

 

 

13. How did the thinking of the Enlightenment affect Puritanism? Did Voltaire, Franklin, and Jefferson hurt the image of puritans with their writings?

 

Erroneous ideas associated with the Enlightenment movement virtually destroyed Puritanism.  Voltaire, Franklin, and Jefferson hated Puritanism.  Indeed, Franklin ran away from it, leaving New England for Pennsylvania.  Slowly over time Enlightenment ideas were accepted within Puritan society in the British Isles as well as America, and Puritanism consequently declined.

 

Puritanism is premised upon the infallibility of Scripture and the depravity of man, whereas the Enlightenment was premised upon the fallibility of Scripture and the soundness of human rationality.  Puritanism says depraved man needs Scripture to think correctly, whereas the Enlightenment held that man can derive a true, holistic philosophy through his own reason and apart from Scripture.  So Puritanism said government needs Scripture to govern rightly, whereas the Enlightenment said human reason is sufficient.  The two are diametrically opposed.

 

 

 

14. Why are the written works of Dr. Seuss considered to be morally and spiritually degrading, according to The Puritans’ Homeschool Curriculum?

 

In a list of morally corrupt literature, Dr. Seuss would hardly be at the top.  Nevertheless, neither should it appear on a list of highly recommended literature.  The reality is that Theodor Seuss Geisel (“Dr. Seuss”) did not write from a Biblical perspective.  Consequently, his definitions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’, as implied in his plots, are not in accordance with Scriptural definitions.  Take, for instance, the case of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  The book implies that observance of Christmas is good, and rejection of Christmas observance is bad.   Yet the puritans rightly rejected Christmas observance, as explained in  The Regulative Principle of Worship and Christmas and The   Religious Observance of Christmas and ‘Holy Days’ in American Presbyterianism.  What is true in the case of this Dr. Seuss book is generally true with his other books as well.  Biblically inappropriate behavior is treated as acceptable and funny.

 

 

 

15. Is "Harry Potter" a harmful influence as well?

 

Yes, and much more so.  J.K. Rowling is much more overt about treating what God’s Word defines as evil, as if it were good and acceptable.  Scripture treats witchcraft and sorcery as evil, yet Rowling does not.  Indeed, God destroyed ancient Babylon, among other reasons, because of the widespread presence of sorcery in the kingdom (Isaiah 47:9).    The modern view of God is naïve in the extreme, for it assumes He is like their image of Santa Claus.  But this fails to take into account the obvious existence of war, death and disease in the world- all things which God is sovereign over and ordains.

 

 

 

16. How is feminism viewed by a new puritan?

 

To a great extent feminism is a response to male irresponsibility. Many men in our society have been allowed to abuse their wives with impunity, or to abandon them to destitution. To that extent, feminism is an understandable but mistaken response.  Civil government should punish abusers and should criminalize adultery.  And it should protect women and orphans who are in desperate circumstances through no fault of their own.  Not only should abusers and adulterers like former President Clinton and California Governor Schwarzenegger  be refused civil office, they should be severely punished by the state.  The puritans rightly put properly convicted adulterers to death, which is consistent with Scripture.

 

Feminism also fails to understand how God views occupations.  From a Biblical and Puritan perspective, homemaking and childrearing are as honorable an occupation as engineering, accounting, and law.  Women do not need to prove their value by engaging in occupations normally performed by men; God has declared their value and given them a noble calling.  And homemaking and childrearing, if done right, require at least as much skill as any of these other occupations.

 

 

 

17. Is the "American Dream" part of the puritan ethos?

 

No, not as it is generally understood.  The “American Dream” is truly a dream, seeking ultimate happiness in materialist pleasures and the things of this world.  But this world will pass away, and the men in it will die.  But God, and the new heaven and new earth which He has planned for His elect, are eternal.

 

 

 

18.  How did puritans in the seventeenth century conceive of a model puritan?

 

It was perhaps best delineated by John Geree, M.A. and Preacher of the Word at Tewksbury and St. Albons, in the following article published in 1646:

 

The Character of an Old English Puritan, or Non-Conformist

 

 

The Old English Puritan was such an one, that honored God above all, and under God gave every one his due. His first care was to serve God, and therein he did not what was good in his own, but in God's sight, making the word of God the rule of his worship. He highly esteemed order in the House of God: but would not under color of that submit to superstitious rites, which are superfluous, and perish in their use. He reverenced Authority keeping within its sphere: but durst not under pretence of subjection to the higher powers, worship God after the traditions of men. He made conscience of all God's ordinances, though some he esteemed of more consequence. He was much in prayer; with it he began and closed the day. It is he was much exercised in his closet, family and public assembly. He esteemed that manner of prayer best, whereby the gift of God, expressions were varied according to present wants and occasions; yet did he not account set forms unlawful. Therefore in that circumstance of the church he did not wholly reject the liturgy, but the corruption of it. He esteemed reading of the word an ordinance of God both in private and public but did not account reading to be preaching. The word read he esteemed of more authority, but the word preached of more efficiency. He accounted preaching as necessary now as in the Primitive Church, God's pleasure being still by the foolishness of preaching to save those that believe. He esteemed the preaching best wherein was most of God, least of man, when vain flourishes of wit and words were declined, and the demonstration of God's Spirit and power studied: yet could he distinguish between studied plainness and negligent rudeness. He accounted perspicuity the best grace of a preacher: And that method best, which was most helpful to the understanding, affection, and memory. To which ordinarily he esteemed none so conducible as that by doctrine, reason and use. He esteemed those sermons best that came closest to the conscience: yet would he have men's consciences awakened, not their persons disgraced. He was a man of good spiritual appetite, and could not be contented with one meal a day. An afternoon sermon did relish as well to him as one in the morning. He was not satisfied with prayers without preaching: which if it were wanting at home, he would seek abroad: yet would he not by absence discourage his minister, if faithful, though another might have quicker gifts. A lecture he esteemed, though not necessary, yet a blessing, and would read such an opportunity with some pains and loss. The Lord's Day he esteemed a divine ordinance, and rest on it necessary, so far as it conduced to holiness. He was very conscientious in observance of that day as the mart day of the soul. He was careful to remember it, to get house, and heart in order for it and when it came, he was studious to improve it. He redeems the morning from superfluous sleep, and watches the whole day over his thoughts and words, not only to restrain them from wickedness, but worldliness. All parts of the day were like holy to him, and his care was continued in it in variety of holy duties: what he heard in public, he repeated in private, to whet it upon himself and family. Lawful recreations he thought this day unseasonable, and unlawful ones much more abominable: yet he knew the liberty God gave him for needful refreshing, which he neither did refuse nor abuse. The sacrament of baptism he received in infancy, which he looked back to in age to answer his engagements, and claim his privileges. The Lord's Supper he accounted part of his soul's food: to which he labored to keep an appetite. He esteemed it an ordinance of nearest communion with Christ, and so requiring most exact preparation. His first care was in the examination of himself: yet as an act of office or charity, he had an eye on others.

 

He endeavored to have the scandalous cast out of communion: but he cast not out himself, because the scandalous were suffered by the negligence of others. He condemned that superstition and vanity of Popish mock-fasts; yet neglected not an occasion to humble his soul by right fasting: He abhorred the popish doctrine of opus operatum in the action. And in practice rested in no performance, but what was done in spirit and truth. He thought God had left a rule in his word for discipline, and that aristocratical by elders, not monarchical by bishops, nor democratical by the people. Right discipline he judged pertaining not to the being, but to the well-being of a church. Therefore he esteemed those churches most pure where government is by elders, yet unchurched not those where it was otherwise. Perfection in churches he thought a thing rather to be desired, than hoped for. And so he expected not a church state without all defects. The corruptions that were in churches he thought his duty to bewail, with endeavors of amendment: yet he would not separate, where he might partake in the worship, and not in the corruption. He put not holiness in churches, as in the temple of the Jews; but counted them convenient like their synagogues. He would have them kept decent, not magnificent: knowing that the gospel requires not outward pomp. His chief music was singing of psalms wherein though he neglected not the melody of the voice, yet he chiefly looked after that of the heart. He disliked such church music as moved sensual delight, and was as hinderance to spiritual enlargements. He accounted subjection to the higher powers to be part of pure religion, as well as to visit the fatherless and widows: yet did he distinguish between authority and lusts of magistrates, to that he submitted, but in these he durst not be a servant of men, being bought with a price. Just laws and commands he willingly obeyed not only for fear but for conscience also; but such as were unjust he refused to observe, choosing rather to obey God than man; yet his refusal was modest and with submission to penalties, unless he could procure indulgence from authority. He was careful in all relations to know, and to duty, and that with singleness of heart as unto Christ. He accounted religion an engagement to duty, that the best Christians should be best husbands, best wives, best parents, best children, best masters, best servants, best magistrates, best subjects, that the doctrine of God might be adorned, not blasphemed. His family he endeavors to make a church, both in regard of persons and exercises, admitting none into it but such as feared God; and laboring that those that were borne in it, might be born again unto God. He blessed his family morning and evening by the word and prayer and took care to perform those ordinances in the best season. He brought up his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and commanded his servants to keep the way of the Lord. He set up discipline in his family, as he desired it in the church, not only reproving but restraining vileness in his. He was conscientious of equity as well as piety knowing that unrighteousness is abomination as well as ungodliness. He was cautious in promising, but careful in performing, counting his word no less engagement than his bond. He was a man of tender heart, not only in regard of his own sin, but others misery, not counting mercy arbitrary, but a necessary duty wherein as he prayed for wisdom to direct him, so he studied for cheerfulness and bounty to act. He was sober in the use of things of this life, rather beating down the body, than pampering it, yet he denied not himself the use of God's blessing, lest he should be unthankful, but avoid excess lest he should be forgetful of the Donor. In his habit he avoided costliness and vanity, neither exceeding his degree in civility, nor declining what suited with Christianity, desiring in all things to express gravity. He own life he accounted a warfare, wherein Christ was his captain, his arms, prayers, and tears. The Cross his banner, and his word, Vincit qui patitur.   He was immovable in all times, so that they who in the midst of many opinions have lost the view of true religion, may return to him and find it.

 

 

 

19.  What course of study do you recommend to become acquainted with the systematic theology of the Bible?

 

Most importantly, there should be comprehensive study of the Bible itself.  This is foundational, and there is no substitute.

 

To help understand the systematic theology of the Bible, I would recommend this course of study:

 

1. Westminster Shorter Catechism

 

2. Westminster Confession

 

3. Westminster Larger Catechism

 

4. The Canons of Dort

 

 

This provides a systematic understanding of the doctrines of scripture, composed by men persuaded that the Bible is the infallible word of God.  They are ecclesiastical confessions, not merely individual confessions.

 

One drawback of many systematic theological textbooks is that they simply represent the understanding of one man.  Not so with the recommended course of study above. 

 

"There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors", where "iron has sharpened iron". "The church is the pillar and ground of truth", the true church upholding a sound Biblical confession.