The Puritans Were Not Perfect

In a blog post entitled Beware the Puritan Paralysis, Trevin Wax boldly goes where very few in the Young, Restless, and Reformed crowd are willing to go: pointing out one of the weaknesses of the Puritans. While there are many things about who the Puritans were and what they said that are of great benefit to the modern church, they were not infallible. And too many of us have treated them as if they were. Of course, we would never say that the Puritans were perfect, but all too often even our gentle critiques of them come with qualifications that subtly shrink the critique.

I’m grateful to Trevin for highlighting what was, in my opinion, one of their glaring weaknesses (and one of ours!).

I spoke at a leadership conference recently, and one of the points I made was that the ministry is not about you. In the Q&A, there was some discussion regarding how pastors can focus their attention on making sure it’s not about them. At that point I said, “If you focus all your energy on making sure it’s not about you, then it is still about you.”

The key for a gospel-driven leader is this: remember to forget yourself.

Too many times, we dress up our introspection with flowery terms like “accountability” and “mortification” and “gospel-centered change.” Even if all these terms and concepts are good and needed, if our gaze is constantly inward-focused, then we are as self-centered as the Christian who is consumed with seeking personal pleasure apart from God.

We can avoid this type of introspection by avoiding the pitfalls of some of the Puritans. Though the Reformers sought to emphasize the assurance we can have because of God’s grace in election and salvation, their descendants sometimes undercut the beauty of assurance by stressing the fruit of sanctification more than the fact of justification. Self-examination was a “descending into our own hearts” to root out every possible sinful tendency and desire.

Read the full post here.