Why do I love the Puritans? Well, it is because of their robust soteriology that is faithful to the Word of God, their awesome biblical piety, and their keen ecclesiology. And after all, my seventeenth-century Baptist forebears were Puritans. But, and this is why we study history, they and their age are not the standard by which we measure biblical fidelity. That belongs to one source: the very one that they loved and sought to uphold—Holy Scripture. It alone is the canon and rule of faith. So, there are some things in which I do not hesitate not to follow the Puritans. In the big picture, they are small things, but they illustrate that for me Scripture alone can bind my conscience. I wear a wedding ring on my left hand’s ring finger—the Puritans rejected the use of such because of the pagan origins of wedding rings. I do not dispute the historicity of those origins. But it is more important for me to bear witness to the permanence and desirability of marriage in our neo-pagan environment than protest against Norse paganism!
Or with regard to the keeping of days, I find it odd that in a world that is increasingly out of sync with the Gospel story and is utterly ignorant of some of the key events of that story that some of our churches, who would regard themselves as modelling Puritanism for the twenty-first century, fail to take advantage of the traditional church year that recalls Advent, Palm Sunday, Pentecost or Trinity Sunday. Would I re-introduce these days of remembrance into Baptist life? Yes, I would, for they help to remind us of critical aspects of the Gospel. Trinity Sunday, for example, would be an excellent antidote to Baptist churches in which the Trinity is never the subject of a sermon, year in, year out. And Pentecost would help some Baptists overcome their fear of the Holy Spirit!