The American Puritans is a surprising treasure trove of vibrant Christian lives worthy of your contemplation and emulation.
Imagine a rumor spread about you, one that defines you to the point where the rest of your story is ignored and people can no longer see the real you. Rumors have the power to tarnish one’s reputation and destroy one’s legacy. It was once said that gossip is like a pillow being cut open and its feathers being carried every which way by the wind—impossible to gather back again.
God’s faithful people have always been disparaged by the world. In 1489, the Duke of Savoy was surprised to find the Waldensian children well formed because it was rumored they were deformed monsters with one eye in the middle of their forehead and four rows of black teeth. Unfortunately, we tend to approach the American Puritans individually and American Puritanism in general with the same narrow-mindedness. We are born into a culture that focuses on their flaws, denigrates their reputation, and buries their stories. We are more familiar with the opinions of others, the common distortions, and the sensational stories than we are with the individuals and their lives. The very term “puritanical” is used derogatorily, meant to convey a prudish isolationism from the world—an irrelevance. But just because a belief is popular doesn’t make it true. And just because a belief has been so popular for so long doesn’t make it true either.
In The American Puritans, Dustin Benge and Nate Pickowicz seek to gather the feathers that have been spread about for centuries. They have written with the conviction that America’s first settlers are misunderstood and have a great deal to offer the modern church. Familiar with the disparaging caricatures, they aim to clarify various myths and half-truths, showcase the incredible stories of their lives, and to encourage further study therein. In this illuminative work, the fascinating lives and enduring relevance of nine American Puritans are revealed. You will read of and hear directly from William Bradford, John Winthrop, John Cotton, Thomas Hooker, Thomas Shepard, Anne Bradstreet, John Eliot, Samuel Willard, and Cotton Mather. If you are unfamiliar with these these brothers and sisters, you are missing out! They are paragons of grit, erudition, and philanthropy.
Living in the 21st century, with all of its modern luxuries—our heroes tend to be rather trivial. In our celebrity culture, people are famous for being famous. There is often no real depth to their lives, nothing worthy of emulation. But these men and women from the 17th century challenge us with their profound character, influence, and accomplishments. Rather than narrowing in on their flaws—real or imagined—Benge and Pickowicz widen our knowledge of them as individuals and broaden our understanding of their stories. And these men and women are the heroes we need. They embody a perfect blend of the indomitable American Spirit and the jubilant spirit of Evangelicalism.
You will read of their audacity as they defied religious tyranny and sought to worship freely according to their biblical convictions. You will discover their bravery as they dared to cross the tumultuous Atlantic to start a new life in the rugged terrain of New England. You will get to know their families and see how they related to their wives and children. You will learn of their unwavering faith in the midst of persecutions, tribulations, and tragic disappointments. You will discover their robust theology and worship practices as well as their impressive written works, many of which have sadly been forgotten. You will catch their ardent desire for God’s glory to consume their lives and their land.
If you are living under religious freedom in America today, you owe it to these brave men and women and their unwavering faith. Let us honor them by hearing their stories. The theological genius and resolutions of America’s greatest theologian—Jonathan Edwards—cannot be understood apart from the resolve of his forbears. I believe that by reading this book, you too will be enraptured by the spirit of the American Puritans—a spirit that is consumed by the glory of God. I am confident that the trivial things that so often enthrall you will fade away and your eyes will be fixated on the enduring beauty of our Sovereign Lord and his Word. It is no wonder the world has sought to disparage and silence these faithful men and women.
The positive influence of the American Puritans has been buried for so long; it is high time to unearth the treasures found in the lives and works of these unsung heroes.
This book is a great place to start!