The American Puritans: About This Issue
Many Christians today are concerned about bringing Christian values to bear in an increasingly secular nation. The Puritans felt they had the same problem in seventeenth-century England. Their solution? Go to America and create a purely Christian society, a “city on a hill” for all the world to see and emulate.
This radical experiment worked, more or less, for 100 years. And then, as do all such movements, it fell apart. Still, the Puritans left this land a profound legacy: a nation imbued with the Puritan character: a strong work ethic, a distrust of authority and tradition, an anxiety to do right at home and abroad. Such traits have sometimes gotten our nation into trouble, but they’ve also been the source of much that is good.
The Puritans continue to inspire many modern Christians, and you’ll see why as you explore this issue of Christian History. We look at an overview of the movement in “Puritans: Quest for Pure Christianity,” discuss their spirituality in “How Puritans Grew Spiritually,” take a look at the greatest Puritan family in “The Mathers: New England Dynasty,” analyze their preaching in “Puritan Preaching,” and summarize their theology in “Puritan Thought: Theology on Fire”—to mention a few articles by leading Puritan historians.
In addition, we sprinkle many excerpts from Puritan diaries and writings to give you a feel for the time and the people. In our interview, Harry Stout, Jonathan Edwards professor of history at Yale University, talks about the legacy that Puritans have left to Christianity and America.
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