I came across a deal today to pre-order this new Systematic Theology by Beeke & Jones that draws exclusively from the Puritans. It’s 1200 pages long and being sold at Monergism Books for a 42% discount for $34.99 (sorry, sounds like a commercial). Amazon has it listed for pre-order for $60!
After reading the .pdf sample I realized how great a treasure this potentially could be. The problem is, I’ve not been interested in reading Puritans much since I finished my Masters Thesis on Jonathan Edwards in 2001. I continued to read Edwards and other Puritans for a while, but when the “Dark Night” began a couple of years later I couldn’t maintain such intensive reading. Plus, because they were all the rage at the time, the Puritans became symbolic of the Seminary world that had contributed (directly/indirectly) to a great deal of pain in my life. They became painfully symbolic of the shallow arrogant spirituality that I saw in the professors and students who flocked to them for instruction.
Maybe it’s time I’ve given them another chance. I’d like to see them redeemed in my life. I have swung from the extreme of “They are everything we need!” to “I don’t need anything they have to offer!” Somewhere, in my heart, I believe there is a place for a much more humbled and realistic appropriation of the Puritans. They were far from perfect, but they still have much to offer – even to ragamuffins like me. Their spirituality is what drew me to them in the first place, and that is what I still find appealing.
Looking to find a balance, I decided (after talking to my wise and beautiful wife) to buy this as an act of faith; it will be her Christmas present to me, which she will hide away until December. It may sit on my shelf for a while, but buying it is symbolic of my desire to re-appropriate the Puritans and somehow redeem this painful part of my past.