Editor’s Introduction -- By: John H. Armstrong
RAR 5:2 (Spring 1996) p. 9
Theologian and contemporary author James I. Packer has written:
Horse racing is said to be the sport of kings. The sport of slinging mud has, however, a wider following. Pillorying the Puritans, in particular, has long been a popular pastime on both sides of the Atlantic, and most people’s image of Puritanism still has on it much disfiguring dirt that needs to be scraped off.1
In recent years there has been, happily, a wonderful recovery of interest in the writings and lives of the Puritans, both of the English and American variety. Hundreds of reprints have been issued, scores of modern studies written, and conferences on Puritan thought and practice now abound. As recently as the 1960s the evangelical world knew next to nothing of these Gospel worthies of the seventeenth century. Now, a few decades later, translations of Puritan works are even available in numerous languages, making this rich mine of pastoral and devotional wisdom accessible to millions of potential Christian readers.
From the very beginning of this publication (1992) the editors have planned a special Puritanism issue. Our goal in addressing this theme is to introduce the Puritans and Puritanism to those who have never read, or perhaps read very little, from the Puritan treasures now readily available as reprints. We also hope to challenge the longtime reader of the Puritans. Our task will not be easy to accomplish.
One of the first problems we faced in addressing this theme and in finding capable writers was, “How can we do justice to such a big and important theme within our normal space limitations?” Since we couldn’t reach our editorial goals within our usual space limitations we decided to expand the coverage of the theme into two issues. We know
RAR 5:2 (Spring 1996) p. 10
this may disappoint some but we felt our editorial goals were more important than our advertising.2
Second, we wished to provide an issue that might meet a present need for introductory material on Puritanism that would give an overview of this movement, of the key figures and the important ideas. We hope that pastors, teachers and even professors will find this issue, and the sequel to follow, useful for class work and background material.
Third, we knew from the beginning that no such publication could address a diverse and frequently misunderstood subject without failing to please some readers. We have, therefore, taken our risks and dared to both praise and criticize the Puritans, believing that they were anything...
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