Course: Reformation History
Professor: Rev. Dr. Luke Lu
Date: 2015 Spring Semester
The Puritans. Authored by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Translated by Christine Wong & K.H. Wong. Published by Elim Publication. 1993. 300 pp. HKD$50.00. Paperback.
This 300 pages Chinese translation book — while the English version is 400 pages — is a collection of public speeches provided by a Welsh pastor at Puritan Studies and Westminster Conference between 1959 and 1978. The pastor’s name is one of the most notable and influential Reformed leaders in Protestant Christianity history, especially in the contemporary period. He is Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a son of a grocer, a Preacher, a medical doctor, and the minister at Westminster Chapel (George Morgan also served here, 1904–17 and 1933–43) in London. The idea for the Puritan Conference began with a Christian Union at Oxford University. In 1950, IVF, a Christian college student fellowship, invited some preachers to preach at Westminster Chapel (preface, vi). Since Lloyd-jones’s name appeared on the list, however, he was not regularly preached in the conference until 1959.
The Puritans, a-288-page (while the English version is 400 pages) book, consists of twelve speeches. [I] Some messages focus on theological or philosophical thoughts, in which Dr. Jones discusses some concepts of puritanism, like the historical facts of rival movement and theological thoughts (1959); a sermon of 1 Col. 8:1-3 on epistemology about the relation between knowledge and act (1960); a practically theological work named “mini Church” in Church (1965; the original language of the term is Greek, Ecclesiola in Ecclesia); whether we can learn some lessons from history (1969). [II] While some stress on historical figures, to some extent, they can be viewed as a series of major leaders’ brief biographies and their teachings. They are John Knox, the founder of Puritanism (1972); Hareth and the revival of Wales (1973); Jonathan Edwards (1976); and John Bunyan (1978). [III] The messages presented in 1974, which entitled as a ‘new’ (at that time) development in 18, 19th century on teaching people how to act out Christ, talking about three types of perfectionists: evangelical, moral, and psychological. [IV] If one would like to briefly understand the Puritanism and its historical roots, turn to read the sixth chapter is the best choice (1971).
In general, The Puritans is a successful selection which is intended to introduce a belief or religious system to its readers, the book not merely introduces the historical development but also gives the philosophical thoughts to them. The former largely involves the acts of God, how God uses his faithful and godly puritan servants to accomplish his redemptive drama. The latter is about the concepts and views of God, and the Word that used by God to influent his people and the words people response to God.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones widely know as his powerful words and irrigated preaching as his predecessor — Charles Haddon Spurgeon. It is easily thought of as his ministry does not tackle with many seriously and strictly academic matters. So the book seems not so academic if you compare it with these theological papers published on journals (if you have ever taken GRE, think of its reading section). But this is not to say that Dr. Jones is not a master in theology and philosophy, he just uses a kind of understandable language and expression so that his readers can know what he says, he is an interpreter that interprets the profound and abstract theology concepts as popular languages.
Furthermore, another aspect of the book that should be referred here is Dr. Jone’s two speeches on knowledge (philosophical saying is epistemology) and the unity of knowledge and action. The approach of his epistemology does not come from human thoughts as Ancient Greek philosophy as Plato philosophy, Aristotle philosophy or Ancient Roman philosophy and so forth ….. which teachings are the so-called false knowledge. His epistemology is a sermon of 1 Col. 8:1-3, its spirit is in accordance with the Scripture and rooted in the Scripture, these are the true knowledge that can make us rejoice in Christ, we can also take pity on those lost souls (pp. 47) .
The evaluation part will be concluded with a notable leader in Puritan history that Dr. Jones refers in the book. Maybe the preference is John Knox. In these messages, he gives in 1972 he says that Knox not only influents Scotland, whereas his influential ideas spread all over the world. To tell the truth, such an express is not grounded on a sandy land, if you travel to Geneva, you can see a 100 m wall at the University of Geneva, at the center of the monument is four 5 m tall statues, one of them is built for John Knox to memorize his contribution to the Reformation Movement.
All in All, as a selection, although there is not a particular main plot in this book, if you are looking for a survey about the Puritan history and thoughts, The Puritans might be your best choice, especially for Chinese speaking Christian.