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  • « Images of the Savior (5 – His Temptation in the Wilderness) | Main | Desiring God Website Update »

    The Puritan Understanding of Christianity

    by J.I. Packer

    "...a connected view of God, of the Bible, of the world, of ourselves, of salvation, of the church, of history, and of the future. Few, it seems, even in Biblie-believing churches [today], grasp this whole picture, and in liberal churches, where attention to scholars' fads and fancies replaces the teaching of the Bible, there is virtually no grasp of it at all. Once, churches taught it to all their children, using catechisms, but not anymore. I state it [the Puritan View] here, therefore, in summary form:

    God, who within the unity of his being is intrinsically a society, the Father, the Son, and the Holy SPirit together, and who is infinite, unchanging, and almighty in his wisdom, goodness, and justice, created the universe, and ourselves within it, so that he might love and bless us, and we might love and praise him. But things have gone wrong.

    Original sin is the radical distortion of every human being's mortal nature, making love and honor to God from our hearts impossible and self-centredness at deepest level inevitable. We sin because we are sinners, and human history, from one standpoint, is original sin writ large.

    Jesus Christ the Saviour, the Jew who died, rose, reigns, and will return for retribution to everyone, past, present and future, is God the Son incarnate, whose death atoned for our sins, whom we trust for forgiveness and acceptance and serve as our living Lord, and who unites us to himself for the renewal of his image in us, dethroning original sin and giving us resources against its down-drag in the process. This is present salvation.

    The Holy Spirit, the third divine person, acts for the Father and the Son by convincing us of our sin and need of Christ's reality as Saviour; by drawing us to him in penitent faith through regeneration; by witnessing to our pardon, adoption, and hope of glory, and by progressively working in us Christ-likeness of character as we pursue what is in truth our journey home. This is the application of redemption.

    The church is the supernatural society of all regenerate persons united by the Holy Spirit to Jesus Christ, called to worship, witness and work together for Christ's glory, and enriched with stated pastors, sacramental ordinances, and abundant serving abilities, for that purpose. Every Christian belongs to the church as God knows it, needs it as his supportive family, and should fellowship within it committedly in one of its particular local expressions. Christian life is corporate life.

    The Bible, the written word of God, is the divine source of knowledge of these things.

    Such, in a nutshell, is the Puritan understanding of Christianity..."

    Except from J.I. Packer's Introduction of The Pleasantness of the Religious Life: The Puritan's View of a Good Life by Matthew Henry

    Posted by John on August 31, 2006 09:10 PM


    Thanks for this quote. Quite an encouragement! How different would our Christianity appear to the world if American Christianity held such a view of God, sin, redemption and the church. Keep quotes like this coming; even doctrinally orthodox believers need reminders like this.

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