Saturday, September 23, 2006

'Puritan Chic'?

Many of you have probably read the cover article in this month's Christianity Today, entitled "Young, Restless, Reformed". If not there's an online version here. The subtitle quips, "Calvinism is making a comeback--and shaking up the church."

One section discusses a corollary of this revival of Calvinist interest: "A Passion for Puritans". Apparently some academics are noticing a greater interest in the Puritans, and Collin Hansen, the article's author, speculates this may be a result of the promotion they've been getting from the likes of Banner of Truth, R. C. Sproul, John Piper and Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Dever has a PhD in Puritan history (on Richard Sibbes, if I'm not mistaken -- this is his book) from Cambridge. Here's an excerpt from the article:

Dever and others have turned a young generation onto some old teachers. He organizes his study around a canon of renowned church leaders that includes Augustine, Luther, Calvin, John Owen, John Bunyan, B. B. Warfield, Martin Lloyd-Jones, and Carl Henry. It's mostly Puritans who have fueled this latest resurgence of Calvinism. Leaders like R. C. Sproul and J. I. Packer have for decades told evangelicals they have something to learn from this post-Reformation movement. During the late 1950s, Banner of Truth starting reprinting classic Reformed works, including many from Puritans.

Among the Puritans, Edwards is most popular. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School professor and Edwards scholar Douglas Sweeney said his seminary includes many more Calvinists than 20 years ago. Not unrelated, he said among evangelicals "there is more interest in Edwards today than there has been since the first half of the 19th century."

Garth Rosell, church history professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, has noticed his students' increased interest in Puritan studies, especially Edwards. He suspects young evangelicals gravitate toward the Puritans looking for deeper historic roots and models for high-commitment Christianity.

That's at least what Jordan Thomas, a 28-year-old church planter, told me about the Puritans. "I don't read them to find out what these guys say about Calvinism," Thomas told me in Piper's church. "It's their big-hearted love for Christ. They say things about their devotion to him that I'm just like, 'I wonder if I know the same Jesus these guys love.'"

Our thoughts exactly, Jordan.

(By the way, you can purchase a shirt similar to the one pictured from Pyromaniac Frank Turk's store, here; several other Reformed theologian shirts are available as well. On that note, don't forget you can also purchase mugs and shirts featuring Westminster Assembly members at Chad B. Van Dixhoorn's project site.)


Matthew2323 said...

There are also some handsome shirts available from out of Fort Worth, Texas.

In addition, Mr. McMahon at has some t-shirts of a similar ilk.

H.C. Ross said...

Thanks for the info, Matthew! I think come late November, God willing, we'll do a post dedicated to telling where Puritan-lovers can find great Christmas gift ideas ... this will be helpful.


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