What is "A 21st Century Puritanism?"
by Mitch Cervinka
Puritanism is a movement that arose within the English Protestant church
in the late 1500's and continued into the 1700's. The Puritans were
Christians who believed that the Bible ought to be the sole authority for
the doctrine and practice of the church. They were convinced that
the Protestant Reformation had not gone far enough in eliminating unscriptural
traditions from the Church, and so, in a very real sense, they were second-generation
Reformers, seeking to finish the work begun by early Reformers like Luther
The reforming spirit of the Puritans ought to exemplify Christianity
in every age. The Latin phrase "Semper Reformanda"—"Always
Reforming"—should be the continual watchword of the Church of Jesus
Christ, as we diligently seek to root out every false teaching and to bring
the church 's worship into full conformity with the apostolic teaching revealed
in the Holy Scriptures.
Reformation is a never-ending task for two reasons. First,
because the church has never achieved 100% perfection, and thus there is
always room for improvement. Secondly and more importantly,
because human depravity makes us so prone to wander from the truth. God's
people need to be constantly vigilant to identify and oppose the age-old
errors that keep reappearing, sometimes in new disguises, that threaten
the spiritual vitality and radical witness of the church.
The great enemy of Biblical Christianity in the days of the Puritans
was Roman Catholicism, both in its full manifestation as well as in the
vestiges of Catholicism carried over into the Anglican Church. Puritans
were often decrying the form of Anglican worship—crucifixes, kneeling
at communion, and especially the "Popish" attire of the Anglican "priests".
But Puritans were also on guard against a return to the Catholic doctrines
of human free-will and personal merit—doctrines that militate against the
free grace of God as revealed in the gospel.
In our present day, the great enemy of Biblical Christianity is the
arrogant pragmatism that measures success by counting noses rather than
seriously assessing the spiritual condition and progress of its converts.
This pragmatic approach turns its back on what the Bible says about God's
sovereignty , man 's depravity, and the manner of worship that is most pleasing
to God. Instead, modern Christianity is often guilty of seeking to
please men rather than God, thereby repeating the error of the self-righteous
With the Puritans of old, we confess the Biblical gospel that God saves
rebellious, Christ-rejecting sinners—He doesn't wait until they trust in
Christ of their own accord, for men are too rebellious to ever willingly
submit themselves to God. Instead, God does for men that which they
never would nor could do for themselves: He chooses certain
ones to be saved, although no one, of himself, would ever have freely
chosen to leave his sin and humbly submit himself to God's authority.
He purchases their forgiveness by giving up the life of His dearly-loved,
only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, in payment for their sins, even though
no one could ever have purchased his own forgiveness. He quickens
them by His Holy Spirit, changing their hearts, bringing forth genuine
faith and lasting repentance, even though no one could ever have made
such a change in his own heart—indeed, no one would even bother to try!
And God completes this work which He began, even though
no one would ever be persistent enough by his own will to persevere very long
in faith and repentance, even if he could savingly believe or repent.
A "21st Century Puritanism", then, is the always-reforming spirit
of 17th-century Puritanism applied to the challenges of the 21st century
church. In place of an Arminian "free-will" gospel that exalts human
worth and ability, the 21st Century Puritan calls us back to the Biblical
gospel that exalts the power and sovereignty of Almighty God. In
place of the "seeker-sensitive", man-pleasing paradigm for worship, the
21st Century Puritan points us back to the Biblical, God-ordained pattern
of worship revealed in Scripture—emphasizing a Godward focus—preaching
His glories, rejoicing in His mercy to hell-deserving sinners,
falling at His feet in humble supplication, singing from joyful, forgiven,
God-saturated hearts psalms and hymns that exalt His majesty and honor.
It is my prayer that this website will help you gain a greater appreciation
for the glory and splendor of our sovereign Creator, Provider and Redeemer.
Soli Deo Gloria! .. To God Alone be the glory!