Unprofessional Puritans And Professional Pastors: What The Puritans Would Say To Modern Pastors -- By: Joel R. Beeke

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 06:1 (Jan 2014)
Article: Unprofessional Puritans And Professional Pastors: What The Puritans Would Say To Modern Pastors
Author: Joel R. Beeke


Unprofessional Puritans And Professional Pastors: What The Puritans Would Say To Modern Pastors

Joel R. Beeke

Edward Dering was a rising star in church ministry and academic scholarship, though still only a young man.1 The University of Cambridge selected him to deliver an oration in Greek to Queen Elizabeth. He was widely sought after as a preacher. On February 25, 1570, he preached before the royal court. But, to the surprise of his audience, he publically rebuked the bishops of the church for their sins and complacency. Then he looked at the queen, who by law was the supreme governor of the Church of England, and said to her, “And yet you sit still and are careless, and let men do what they will.” The queen suspended him from preaching for a year, but he continued to lecture on the Scriptures. His sermon to the queen was printed sixteen times in the next thirty-three years.

His lectures on the Epistle to the Hebrews fed the souls of many godly people in London. God was answering his prayer, “O Lord God, which hast left unto us Thy holy Word to be a lantern unto our feet, and a light unto our steps, give unto us all Thy Holy Spirit, that out of the…Word we may learn what is Thy eternal will, and frame our lives in all holy obedience to the same, to Thy honor and glory, and increase our faith, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Dering returned to preaching, but a few years later he received a summons to appear before the dreaded high court of the Star Chamber for his criticisms of the bishops. He was acquitted of all charges. However, his health soon declined and he died in 1576, only thirty-six

years old. Some of his last recorded words were, “Dally not with the Word of God, make not light of it; blessed are they that use their tongues well when they have them.”

Dering’s life reminds us that the Puritans were not professional pastors seeking a successful career in this world. They were faithful servants who lived and died for the Lord who had bought them with His blood. The Puritans would not want us to be unprofessional in the sense of being lazy, rude, undisciplined, disorganized, careless, or having no regard for the honor of our Lord. However, they would object to a wicked professionalism that arises from the love of the world. They viewed such professionalism as a form of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The love of the Father is not in it. Nor is such professionalism beneficial to our vocation. On the contrary, it is a trap for the pastor, candy-coated poison for the lost, and a whip laid on the backs of the godly.

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