Last week Anthony Bradley asked a really great question on Twitter, “Why do the YRR like the Puritans so much”. (It was something similar to that). I offered a quick answer that it’s because we love the gospel and the Puritans are gospel-rich. That was probably too simplistic of an answer but sometimes it’s hard to really not be on Twitter.
Today I hope to expand on that answer. Rather than just straight up list 10 reasons why the YRR (Young Restless and Reformed) crowd loves the Puritans I want to make a sort of progressive list.
Why do the YRR love the Puritans?
Or how did we start loving the Puritans?
1. Because Mark Dever does.
What I mean by that is that within YRR circles there are several leaders (see T4G) that we really admire. Though often it brings the accusation of hero worship, I think for the most part it’s that God is really moving in our generation and they feed us Jesus. So we look up to them because they bless us in Christ. So, it’s only natural then that we start reading the things that they suggest we read. Couple this with the fact that one of Dever’s aims is to get solid books into peoples hands (and often for free at conferences and such) and you see how we started liking the Puritans.
2. Because J.I. Packer and others did
If Dever and the T4G crowd don’t introduce you directly to the Puritans you’ll eventually get introduced to them by J.I. Packer and Martin Lloyd-Jones. Puritan-love has been going on pretty strong since the 1950’s. If you are young, restless, reformed and love to read you’ll either get introduced through the Puritans by the T4G crowd or MLJ (and probably both). When all these dear men of God are rockin’ out to the Puritans why shouldn’t you.
3. Banner of Truth
When you have a publishing company churning out books from the Puritans for under 10 bucks and you’ve got guys like Timmy Brister doing a Puritan Reading Challenge then it’s only inevitable that we’ll start reading the Puritans.
But why do you love them so much when you do read them?
4. We Aren’t Turned Off By Their Reformed Theology
Though a good chunk of the YRR crowd are Baptists and don’t agree with their infant baptism and aspects of their Covenant theology we aren’t turned off by the Calvinism of their Reformed Theology. That means that we don’t stumble over that and have a bad taste in our mouth from their unashamed Calvinism. So we are left to enjoy…
5. Their gospel-centrality
This goes back to my original answer. The Puritans are gospel rich. Seriously, if you embrace Reformed theology then you will not trip over their expositions of the gospel. You’ll revel in them. You’ll rejoice as John Bunyan reflects on the gospel promises and as he waxes on about the excellencies of Christ. These dudes had a way of bringing everything back to Jesus.
6. Their big view of God
The YRR crowd has a very big view of God. Hopefully, nobody sees that as a bad thing. So did the Puritans. We have a shared vision of God. Piper is just an Edwardsean Puritan with a microphone. If you love Piper you’ll love the Puritans—so long as you are okay with the labor of reading them.
7. Their practical theology
Though often presented as pie-in-the-sky theologians arguing about angels dancing on the heads of pins and what exactly constitutes a witch, the Puritans were immensely practical. Occasionally as we reflect on the bigness of God we are left wondering how to put into practice the theology that we are growing to embrace. The Puritans helps with that and we love it.
Sure, but there are other groups of people that have a big view of God, love the gospel, and will give you practical theology. So is it just their Reformed theology or is there something else? Some cultural similarity perhaps?
8. They were underdogs like us
This may only apply to the Baptist brand of the YRR crowd but we are underdogs. The majority of people in the SBC (and other Baptist groups) are not Calvinists. They aren’t necessarily militant non-Calvinists but they aren’t Calvinists either. We are underdogs. So were the Puritans. We share an affinity with them.
9. They were a reform movement like us
The Puritans were passionate about reforming stale and stagnating church. We live in an era much like the Puritans that might claim to be Protestant but we are filled with stale and stagnant churches too. When the Puritans preach passionately about this it stirs us, exhorts us, and comforts us. As they preach to awaken “sleeping and stupid sinners” they spur us on to do the same with a bold confidence that God can raise up these dry bones.
10. They were physicians of the soul in a hurting culture
They ministered in an era with such maladies as the plague. They ministered to suffering people. So do we. The Puritans were some of the first people to talk about depression (fits of melancholy). As we minister to hurting people the Puritans are a gold-mine to applying gospel-rich and God-centered theology to the lives of broken and hurting saints.
But if I’m being honest it’s really…
They had cool hats and awesome beards.