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.
New England Dynasty
The lives and legacies of the Mathers, America’s most influential Puritan family.George W. Harper
When the Sermon Reigned
No activity shaped Puritans more than their “plain” preaching. Here’s what it was like.Allen C. Guelzo
Christian History Timeline: The American Puritans
Chronology of events relating to the New World Puritans.Francis J. Bremer
The American Puritans: A Gallery of Gifted Founders
The first generation of American Puritans was extraordinarily talented. Here are five leading examples.Mark Galli