Taking A Look At Christianity According To The New Testament

The Puritans have always had a very bad press, and certainly they had their faults, and by the end of the English civil war politics had largely superseded spirituality among their leaders. However, at their best, the puritans were humble, sincere groups of Christians who never merited the harsh unrelenting criticism to which they are still subjected.

When I was a boy at school the "Cavaliers" were always the heroes and the "Roundheads" the baddies. Whereas if you look carefully at the historical facts, many of the "Cavaliers" were proud and haughty, they thought themselves to be infinitely superior to others and especially to the ‘lower classes’ and treated them accordingly.

Cromwell’s soldiers have been severely criticized for their "wanton" destruction of many statutes and religious shrines during the civil war. However, it must be understood that many of these shrines were objects of superstitious idolatry and if anything is condemned by God it is any form whatsoever of idolatry.

At nearly the beginning of the Ten Commandments God declared "You shall not make for yourself any idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow done to them or worship them - Exodus 20: 4. The apostle Paul writing to the Corinthian Church says - "Flee from idolatry" - 1 Corinthians 10: 14, When Cornelius the centurion fell at the feet of the apostle Peter, he told him to get up - "I am only a man myself ". When the apostle John was caught up to heaven he fell at an angel’s feet to worship him and the angel immediately said, "Do not do it - Worship God!" and in John’s first letter he ends saying - "Dear children keep your-selves from idols."

We must also remember that the Lord has never authorised special buildings dedicated to God for New Testament times, the church is not a building but a body of believers. The skill used for those beautiful religious buildings, screens, reredos’s etc. could have been used in other ways, equally beautiful. It always seems to me contrary to the compassionate character of Jesus Christ, that we see in medieval paintings of these great cathedrals rearing up in the midst of poverty and squalor.

Nevertheless, I still feel that Cromwell’s troops, in their sometimes wanton destruction, that caused the loss, or mutilation, of so many beautiful things, not directly connected to idolatry, was shameful and way over the top.

The Puritan’s theology was undoubtedly Biblical and faithful to New Testament teaching. Among other foundational truths that they taught, their pastoral teaching can be summed up in the Apostle Paul’s words to his fellow missionary Titus -

Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world - Titus 2: 12

Donald L. Norbie comments on this verse as his contribution to the devotional calendar "Choice Gleanings" -

"God’s grace does not condone sin. God’s grace introduces us to a life of discipleship and teaching at the feet of our Lord. Ungodliness, lusts, worldly desires, irreverence and disregard of God must be rejected. Grace encourages us to cultivate sensible, righteous, reverent lives. Let us not bring God’s grace into disrepute by godless living. The goal should be, "that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven" - Matthew 5: 16

God’s grace is his unmerited favour, and if you are not a practising Christian, and you have never experienced that radical change in your life the Jesus called, "(being) born again",

Here is a word for you from the New Testament -

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" - John 3: 16.

Put your name in place of the word "whoever". Ask the Lord Jesus to forgive your sins and to come into your heart and make you truly his disciple and he will.

Gordon Guillermo Burgess
The Pastor.