Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Fun (?): Get your head around this

In his essay, "Anti-Puritanism: The Structure of a Prejudice", Princeton historian Peter Lake discussed the inherent difficulty of defining puritanism for the historian. It stems from there being at least three groups involved in definition-making: besides other contemporary historians, one also must deal with the critics who first coined and applied the term during the 16th and 17th centuries, and the people who willingly adopted the term for themselves. Warns Lake,

Even those with a more distanced and indifferent attitude to these questions [of Anglican ecclesiology, religion and politics] would do well, before pronouncing definitively on the nature of puritanism, to remember that they are dealing with an entity that was always already under construction and contestation both by the people being characterized (then and now) as puritans and their enemies.

I'd be interested in hearing how all of you, post-grads and otherwise, define puritanism. Please leave a comment!

(In another post I'll tackle the question: "Puritan with a capital or lower-case 'p'?")

Lake's essay can be found in Religious Politics in Post-Reformation England: Essays in Honour of Nicholas Tyacke, ed. Fincham and Lake (Boydell, 2006), 80-97. The quote is on p. 86.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Memento mori: A brother is home now ...

I wanted to make a small gesture to honor the memory of Rev. F. Scott Petersen (1963-2007), who passed away earlier this month, on the 5th of August. Rev. Petersen was the author of the blog Ars Theologica, which we have linked to here for some time. The final post from his site reads as follows:
The author of this blog has gone to meet the Author of Life.
On Saturday morning, the Rev. Franklin Scott Petersen passed from this world into eternity following unsuccessful surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain. Prayers are requested for his beloved wife, Deb and his two daughters, Emily and Sarah.

This quote from famed evangelist D.L Moody is an appropriate one.

"Someday you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of Northfield is dead. Don't you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone higher, that is all--out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal, a body that sin cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned like His glorious body. I was born in the flesh in 1837; I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die; that which is born of the Spirit will live forever."

This blog will remain open for a time as a testament to Scott's faith and faithfulness so that "by faith he being dead may yet speak ..."
Rev. Petersen's premature (humanly speaking) passing should cause us all to reflect on the fleeting nature of our own lives. (See my previous post, Point 13.). I was especially moved to read his own last post, dated 23 July:

Just News

I don't have much new to write about because the steroids I am on (which end Thursday!) make it hard to read new material (including Harry Potter!). I was able to attend church yesterday for the first time in a quite a while. I hope return to preaching the last Sunday in August. It all depends on my strength and clarity of mind. By September, things should be better. So far so good. What delayed my return to ministry was a reaction to the chemotherapy which produced high fevers. I am being tapered off the steroids, and so far no fevers. I still tire easily, but my appetite is increasing and I can walk with ease for short distances. That's it for now.
I know that Rev. Petersen would want us all to pray for his wife and children, and to make use of his own home-coming for the stirring up of ourselves: our zeal for the work the Lord has given each of us to do, and our longing for full redemption in glory.

I look forward to meeting this saint when my own pilgrimage here is complete.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Puritan Self-Inventory

n his ground-breaking spiritual manual, Seven Treatises (1603), which I have mentioned here before, Richard Rogers (1550/1-1618) discussed the spiritual discipline of meditation.

Aside from Scripture itself, Rogers urged readers to reflect on the following points, which he had drawn up for the maintenance of his own spiritual life.

I would highly recommend taking a look at these periodically, if not once each week or more. I have revised his English somewhat, for better understanding. Ask yourself whether you have done these things in the recent past, and what needs to change in the present:

1. Whether I continually keep a narrow watch over my heart, words and deeds.

2. Whether I am careful to redeem the time now, and to make sure time in the future is not idly, carelessly or unprofitably spent.

3. Whether I attend to private prayer and meditation at least once each day.

4. Whether I have been careful to do good and receive good from others with whom I spend time.

5. Whether my family is instructed, watched over and governed with diligence.

6. Whether I have given more time and care to earthly pleasures and worldly profits than necessary.

7. Whether I have stirred myself and others up, to love God’s people, and especially to suffer for doing good.

8. Whether I have given too much freedom to wandering thoughts and carnal emotions.

9. Whether I have prepared myself to bear the cross, no matter when or where it might please God to exercise me.

10. Whether I have carved out any time, not only to mourn for my own sins, but also for the sins of my time and the age in which I live.

11. Whether I have looked daily with longing for the coming of my Lord Jesus Christ, for my full deliverance out of this world of sin and misery.

12. Whether I have sought out (as my need requires) the acquaintance of some honest, godly and faithful person, with whom I may converse and open my heart, for the quickening of God’s grace in me.

13. Whether I have observed the vanity of all earthly things, in order to condemn them and long after heaven; and whether I have noted the mortality and deaths of other people, and thought often and earnestly of my own passing.

14. Whether I have read daily (when I could with convenience) out of Scripture, for the further increase of my knowledge and conscience.

15. Whether I have renewed my covenant with God to strive against sin, especially against those sins and corruptions of my own heart and life, by which I have dishonored the Lord most.

16. Whether I take note of how sin dies and is weakened in me, and keep myself from returning to my old sins, wisely avoiding all occasions that might lead me to them.

17. Whether I have not lost my first love and liking of God’s word, and all the holy exercises of religion (e.g., prayer, reading, meditation, fellowship, etc.).

18. Whether I have been occupied often in reflecting on God’s benefits and works, in order to sound forth his praises for them.

19. Whether I have fought to cherish my faith, by taking comfort and delight in the great benefit of my redemption by Jesus Christ.

20. Whether I have not made spiritual exercises (see 17. above) and practices of repentance matters of course and custom, rather than matters of conscience.


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