We're All Puritans

I’m more and more convinced that we should stop talking about “Puritans” as if they were some distinct species of Reformed theology. They were English and Scots Reformed theologians and pastors. Shane Lems has more good stuff that illustrates that confessional Reformed theology is just that whether written in England or in the Netherlands.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

    More by R. Scott Clark ›

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  1. Out of curiosity, would you draw a straight line from Calvin and his contemporaries to Puritanism as you have defined it? What do you think of the Mercersburg critique of Puritanism (particularly New England congregationalism) as an aberration from the more ecclesial piety of the Reformers? A bit off topic, I know. I’d be interested to here your thoughts on this.

  2. Well, the drawing of straight lines from a to b in historical theology is pretty difficult generally. I do think that Reformed orthodoxy, whether in Europe or in England or in Scotland was an adaptation and development from the magisterial first and second generation reformers. I quite reject the Calvin v the Calvinists approach to understanding Reformed orthodoxy.

    I’m reluctant to claim too much about New England. I have argued (in a forthcoming book) that the 18th-century New Side and New Light movements represent a significant shift away, in certain respects, from the mainstream of 16th and 17th-century Reformed orthodoxy. The debates in 17th-century New England did reflect discussions that were happening in England and elsewhere.

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