The American Puritans: From the Editor — Questions You Asked

I ENJOY IT whenever a reader writes or stops by our editorial offices here in Illinois. It usually leads to an enjoyable conversation about church history or magazine publishing. Often, readers ask these questions:

• How many people subscribe to Christian History? Five years ago, about 15,000. Today, because you’ve shared the magazine with friends, about 80,000.

• Is that good? Can you survive with that number? Industry pundits predicted a church history magazine would never survive. Thankfully, you have proven them wrong. We are able to pay our bills and continue this shared mission of making our Christian heritage known.

• How many people work on Christian History? Editorially, only four or five—and none of us has the luxury of devoting full-time energies to it.

• How do you select your themes? We survey readers, our editorial advisers, and our own staff. If a topic makes it onto the list of all three groups, we devote an issue to it.

• Won’t you run out of topics? Not a chance. Without even trying we have listed more than a hundred topics that fascinate us. And each month we add to the list.

• What’s your theological position? We are evangelicals with a deep love for the entire body of Christ. We try to present each person and tradition honestly, fairly, and appreciatively.

• What are your plans for the future? First and foremost, to continue publishing a high-quality magazine. But we hope to present church history in new ways to reach other people: study tours, books, children’s programs, CD-ROM, conferences, and more. Pray for us as we discern the best ways to accomplish our mission.

Puritanical could be one of the most inaccurate labels ever devised. Far from being narrow-minded, Puritanism, as Sydney Ahlstrom wrote, “is an intellectual tradition of great profundity.” Far from being cold, Puritans were what a sixteenth-century tract called “the hotter sort of Protestants.”

The Puritans were people on a mission: to create a pure church and a thoroughly Christian society. “In the short term,” writes theologian J.I. Packer, “they lost their battles and failed in their reforming purposes; in the long term however, they have done as much for English Christianity (not to mention that of America) as any group of would-be change agents has ever done.”

By Kevin A. Miller

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #41 in 1994]

Kevin A. Miller, Executive Editor.
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