How are evangelically minded Christians supposed to think about their place in society? Are they to keep their religion and politics to themselves, or should they seek to transform the structures of the world through an exercise of political and cultural power?
A new book by Michael Winship explores how the Puritans—those “pre-evangelical” English Protestants of the 1600s—pursued the latter course. Remarkably, they were given not one but two chances to shape their worlds based upon their intensely biblical vision of a godly society. In both arenas—that of England and New England—their political experiments collapsed, but they left behind a legacy of personal piety, pastoral purity, and theological rigor that many Christians today rightly find both challenging and inspiring.
Remaking Church and Society
Hot Protestants: A History of Puritanism in England and America offers a fresh interpretation of the rise and fall Puritanism. Winship, who serves as the E. Merton Coulter Professor of History at the University of Georgia, has constructed a thoroughly researched, up-to-date narrative of transatlantic Puritanism that is eminently readable and deeply informative.
Puritanism was a movement born in England after the Reformation, when many Protestants came to believe the reforms that the Church of England had embraced were insufficient. The approach they pursued is readily recognizable to evangelicals today. They emphasized Christian conversion and evangelistic preaching, and they preferred zealous, godly living over varieties of Christianity that they believed were formal and ritualistic. Because they believed the Bible contained very words of life, they put themselves on a steady diet of Scripture ...1
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