As I examine my heart, I have to admit I’ve discriminated against a particular group of people. I disrespected them based on input I received from others–what I was taught and read, not personal experience. As is always the case with discrimination, I made wide generalizations that focused on one aspect of their character that seemed predominant. I did not consider their many contributions to society in my rush to judge. So now, publicly, I would like to apologize. Puritans–please forgive me.
University English departments around the country teach that Puritans were judgmental hypocrites, pointing out wrongs in others and living in sin themselves. This teaching centers around what others shared regarding their ideology (think Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Scarlet Letter) and certain historical events they were involved in (think Salem Witch Trials). Professors and literature texts promote this narrow view, and many literature teachers support it in the classroom. As a former literature and writing instructor, I shared it freely with my students for many years and encouraged them to analyze it through their writing. For that, I am truly sorry.
As a counselor, I see how misguided that opinion was as I forage into the fuller field of Puritan literature. Puritan writers were keenly attuned to how Scripture had the power to shape life. They were application-oriented and sought to overlay biblical teaching on daily struggles. As I overcame my bias, I found Puritan work immensely helpful. Writers like Richard Baxter, Richard Sibbes, and John Owen have fueled my faith and sessions, with practical views on Christ’s loving character, spiritual warfare strategies, and the process of sanctification.
The Puritan prayer below, “Grace Active” is taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. I hope you will savor it. As a member of the BUILD team and active supporter of Fieldstone Counseling, you embody grace at work. Your financial support allows us to provide biblically-based, Christ-centered, clinically informed care to all who seek it. We hope to personally thank you at one of our Fieldstone Forward 2022 events this fall! All the details for each event and an RSVP link is listed below.
Thank you for making grace active in your life, and helping us share the lasting hope of Jesus Christ with so many!
Crystal is a Christ-follower, wife, mother, counselor, and friend. She is passionate about connecting others with the truth of God's miraculous power and sustaining presence.