Contrary to popular opinion, the Puritans were no dour lot. Packer believes there's much we can learn from them about joyous spirituality. Exploring the writings of John Owen, Richard Baxter, Jonathan Edwards, and others, he examines their views on the Bible, Sabbath, spiritual gifts, and more to encourage you to pursue a richer Christian life. 368 pages, softcover from Crossway.
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I have found J.I. Packer to be a "slow read"...not in the sense that his writing is cumbersome, but that in that it is intriguing and unable to be processed quickly. "A Quest for Godliness" requires a meditative stroll rather than a rapid sprint to complete. Its 360-plus pages are an attempt to recover the essence of Puritan thought in our churches and pulpits today. "Puritanism" has taken an unfair hit by contemporary writers who have long ago abandoned concepts like the sovereignty of God and the inerrancy of Scripture. For that reason, Packer contends, the Church has lost not only its influence but its vision. This book makes the case that Puritanism was the inevitable result of the Reformed movement of a century earlier. The Puritans built upon the reasoned thoughts of the great reformers and produced a clear theology that removed ambiguities that their predecessors had left in their wake. This book is a wonderful introduction to Puritanism, showing its link to the Reformed movement and its influence upon the faith that helped lay the foundation of the American colonies. Packer's references to John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Bunyan, Richard Baxter, and others motivate the reader to move beyond his brief quotes and allusions to explore the works of these men. They have left for us a huge legacy that our generation seems to have forgotten. Packer covers a number of topics from the Puritan perspective that are relevant to the Church of Jesus Christ today, such as a high regard for the Scriptures, an understanding of justification-by-faith, the role and manner of preaching, the ministry of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts, the heart of worship, marriage and the family, and an understanding of revival. In his introduction, Packer suggests that this volume is the culmination of his own forty-year study of the Puritans. His regard for these spiritual forerunners is huge...and ours should be as well. This book is a great place to begin cultivating an appreciation for those in whose place we now stand. For those being moved toward a more Reformed theological posture, "A Quest for Godliness" will prove to be a helpful guide.