Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
RAR 9:4 (Fall 2000) p. 177
Who Are The Puritans? Erroll Hulse. Darlington, United Kingdom: Evangelical Press (2000). 221 pages, paper, $13.99
When the editor, Dr. John Armstrong, was preparing Volume 5, Number 2 (Spring 1996) of this publication, he asked Erroll Hulse to prepare a major article on the Puritans. The article appeared under the title, The Story of the Puritans. The challenge from the editor, however, started a train of thought that has culminated in this volume.
The Puritans have been a longsuffering bunch. They have suffered both from uncritical admirers and from those for whom “Puritan” is a swearword. While it is obvious that Hulse is a warm admirer of these stalwarts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, this is no mere propaganda piece. Here you will learn to appreciate men, many of whose names you have never met before. The appreciation will not arise from their quaintness or peculiarities, but from their steadfast love for the Savior and their determination to suffer indignity and death for his name.
The book falls into three major sections. In the first fifty pages or so, the author situates the Puritans theologically and historically. To do this he first compares them with such movements in twentieth-century theology and philosophy, as post-modernism, neo-orthodoxy, fundamentalism, and others. This comparison is not done in
RAR 9:4 (Fall 2000) p. 178
depth since that would require a large book in itself. Rather, Hulse gives a succinct description of these varied views and tries to pin-prick them with a truth dear to the Puritan mind. In speaking to “Shallow evangelism” as a movement that crosses denominational lines, he remarks briefly, “Possibly here more than anywhere, the Puritans can help evangelicals who use the appeal, or altar call, and who too readily pronounce people converted....” Hulse rightly points out that the Puritans held a doctrine of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility that took both sides of the equation dead-seriously, leading to caution in being too enthusiastic over the decisions of a moment(21).
Hulse locates the Puritans historically in three ways, by showing their antecedents, by dating the Puritan period (1558–1662), and, by showing how they interacted with the political and social events of their time. I especially enjoyed the account of Cromwell and his army. An heir of the Anabaptists would have to read the following account with both misgiving and admiration:
That which chiefly distinguished the army of Cromwell from other armies was the austere morality and the fear of God which pervaded all ranks. It is acknowledged by the most zealous Royalists that in that camp no oath was hea...
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