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2.01.2008

On Puritan piety


Puritan piety... You have to think in terms of different levels of engagement. There is the philosophical level, there is the theoretical level, and there is the practical level. That's a descent in altitude to where the rubber meets the road which is the practical level. Most Christian books on practice are at the philosophical and theoretical levels. In fact, it's safe to say ALL Christians books on practice are at the philosophical and theoretical levels. To get knowledge and practices at the practical level you are getting involved in what is called 'school' knowledge. It is rare. The Puritans approached it but not to the pure practical level. Yet they approached it. Here's an example, and with it will be demonstrated an aspect of school knowledge.

The most practical level knowledge and practices the Puritans put into books was in their books in the category that is called spiritual warfare. For a regenerated Christian there is nothing more practical than spiritual warfare. (When I write that I feel I must say that heretics consider confrontation they get to be some kind of spiritual warfare, and you know what? they are right. Though they are on the devil's side of the battleline and are feeling heat from God's elect.)

Now look at how academic Christianity completely and totally ignores the subject of spiritual warfare. Maybe they will smirk and mock it if it is brought to their attention, but that is about it. You don't find the best systematic theology (Reformed, Calvinist) containing the category of spiritual warfare either, even though the Purtians have arguably written more words on that subject than any other. But because it is at the practical level of what a Christian 'does' it is invisible to the mainstream. School knowledge can be right under your nose, yet you won't see it or recognize it or value it until you've developed enough internally to see it, recognize it, and value it. And regarding spiritual warfare you have no interest in it as long as you still are what the Puritans called a 'tame slave' in the devil's kingdom. Regeneration (being born again by the Word and the Spirit) changes that despite yourself and gets you noticed in the devil's kingdom and puts you on spiritual ground where the forces of darkness and light meet.

This is, by the way, why the devil and his ministers will talk all day about 'sacraments' and ritual. They know they don't regenerate God's own. The Word and the Spirit regenerate God's own. And notice what historically anti-Christ and his various churches have suppressed, often at penalty of torture and death. The Word of God. (But if you want ritual water baptism, come on in!)

So Puritan books on spiritual warfare get closest to 'school' knowledge, which is to say practical level knowledge. But they don't really make it all the way. Mainstream influences never do. You have to prove yourself by being willing and able to navigate waters a little farther from the shore to meet up with true school knowledge. But if you have the Spirit, and you are looking for more (and you can defend yourself from all the default voices and influences that will steer you away from leaving the mainstream, saying it's dangerous or evil or whatever; i.e. if you can manage to fear God more than man and hence be able to pursue Wisdom herself), then the Spirit will guide you into more practical level teaching. It is biblical teaching, but there again, though Jesus' practical teaching is right under your nose, right there in your Bible, you don't see it or recognize it or value it. Yet.

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