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R. Scott Clark grapples with the existence of Puritans

R. Scott Clark, professor of Westminster Seminary California (of historic theology or some such title I believe) has been known as being typical of establishment Reformed Christians in denigrating the Puritans in various ways, and basically disallowing any connection between them and the continental (really establishment) Reformed tradition. Over the years though Mr. Clark has taken some criticism on that score, even being accused of being unregenerate by his students (as he has stated on his blog, using that word). Now, knowing it is really an untenable position for a Reformed professor to have such a view of the Puritans in this day when the Puritans are such an inspiring influence among Christians Mr. Clark has stated this today:

We’re All Puritans

June 18, 2008 in Uncategorized | No comments

I’m more and more convinced that we should stop talking about “Puritans” as if they were some distinct species of Reformed theology. They were English and Scots Reformed theologians and pastors. Shane Lems has more good stuff that illustrates that confessional Reformed theology is just that whether written in England or in the Netherlands.

In other words, instead of mocking the notion of Puritans (notice though he still puts the name in scare quotes) he is now willing to appropriate them into his realm of high church ritualist, clericalist, formalist, moralist Reformed Christianity. Establishment Reformed Christianity.

Allow me to explain how the Puritans are different from Mr. Clark and establishment Reformed Christianity: the Puritans experienced and understood regeneration effected by the Word and the Spirit. This is why they picked up the mocking name Puritan (an old name, by the way, very similar in meaning to the Greek cathar). Mainstream, establishment Christians always give mocking names to Christians who have been regenerated by the Word and the Spirit and who understood what that is and demonstrated it in their conversation in the world despite themselves. And Puritans knew the battle with the flesh, the world, and the devil that commences once a believer is regenerated by the Word and the Spirit hence their voluminous works on spiritual warfare, a subject that embarrasses establishment Reformed Christians.

So all Reformed Christians are no more the same as Puritans any more than the Anglican judges who kept putting John Bunyan in confinement were Puritans.


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