One of the great tragedies of our day has been parade of testimonies of women who have been abused by men within the corporate world, the political world, and yes, even within the Church. These women bear deep wounds as a result of sexual assault, rape, and various other forms of sexual misconduct. Sadly, in some cases, the wounds are inflicted upon girls—who shouldn’t be forced to deal with the horror of such sin. Such men are monsters and deserve to be punished for their crimes. This parade has been long and dark.
Another tragedy has been the confusion that has surrounded this parade. The confusion has erupted, not as a result of an unwillingness to address the problem, but on the basis of how the problem should be addressed. Such controversy has arisen within evangelical circles as social justicians are suggesting that the answer is activism, deconstruction of power structures, and a redefining of key doctrines like complementarainism. This tragedy will only worsen if we continue to take out our frustrations upon complementarianism.
What Is Complementarianism?
At this juncture, we need clear definitions and we need to be sure that throughout this controversy within evangelicalism that we’re working from the same dictionary. It serves little purpose to have an honest conversation without working from the same set of terms.
While The Danvers Statement (1987) deals with the issues of complementarity, it’s not as robust as many would prefer. Bruce Ware has provided a helpful distinction between complementarianism and egalitarianism on the CBMW.org website. In order to discuss these issues, a couple of definitions and distinctions are necessary.
First of all, when discussing the issues of complementarianism, we are referring to the English word complement not compliment.
Complement is defined as “a thing that completes or brings to perfection.” The other word, compliment although similar in spelling, refers to “a polite expression of praise or adoration.” Eve did not speak praises to Adam, but she did complete him as his helper and mate. Eve’s presence drove away Adam’s loneliness, as God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18).
Complementarianism = Both men and women were created equal in value and dignity as image bearers of God, but although equal, God has sovereignly designed specific roles and responsibilities for men and women that are distinct, unique, and both are for the glory of God.
Egalitarianism = Both men and women were created equal in value and dignity as image bearers of God, and since they are both equal, women should be free to do what men do, serve where men serve, and exercise her gifts right alongside men in the spheres of society, home, and the Church.
Within the complementarianism camp, there are a couple of different positions:
Narrow = The idea that women have distinct roles that differ from men in a narrowly focused area of the home and narrowly focused in relation to the office of elder within the church, however, women should be allowed to exercise her teaching gifts alongside men in the local church and beyond so long as she is not ordained to the teaching and shepherding office of elder.
Broad = The idea that women have distinct roles and such roles and boundaries are not oppressive nor discriminatory. They are for her good and the glory of God as put on display in a broad sphere including the home, the church, and the society as a whole. Such boundaries in the church would prevent her from ordination to the office of elder as well as the function of preaching and teaching the Word to a mixed audience in the local church and beyond—because of the biblical texts such as 1 Timothy 2:12-13.
As you can see, evangelicals disagree on these matters—some of which derail completely into the world of what has become termed evangelical egalitarianism (which some would argue is not evangelical at all). So, as always, words matter as does our theology.
How Is Complementarianism Under Assault?
The issue here is not centered on worth or value or even the dignity of women. The issue is centered upon what women can—or in some cases, can’t do. The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 would fall into the narrow complementarian camp as it points to the office of pastor in article VI and states, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” In other words, it simply doesn’t go far enough on these issues.
Some popular voices and leaders within evangelicalism are suggesting that by raising women to the highest levels of denominational levels and appointing them to teaching and administrative roles at the seminary and denominational level—that this will reverse the curse regarding the sexual abuse crisis regarding women within the Church. Does this make sense?
In other words, the very clear teaching of complementarianism is being assaulted in order to help prevent women from being assaulted. Consider what Beth Moore said to a cheering audience in Dallas recently at the ERLC’s Caring Well conference:
In much of our world, complementarian theology has been conflated with inerrancy. Case in point: Notice how often our world charges or dismisses egalitarians by saying they have a low view of Scritpure. Because unless you think like us about complementarian theology they do not honor the Word of God.
It seems clear that Beth Moore has an agenda. While she admitted that it wasn’t the fault of complementarian theology, but rather a sin problem that precipitated the sexual abuse scandal, she goes on to open the gates wide to egalitarians on the basis that abused women need other women to turn to within the ranks of SBC churches and seminaries. She went on to say:
Far too many SBC congregations and SBC seminaries so few women are in any visible area of leadership that when women who are being abused by the system itself, or within it, by people who are in places of power, don’t even have a female to turn to. They don’t even know where to go.
Notice the language that she carefully and with great intentionality employs. She points to a system (to imply that it’s corrupt). She points to people of power (to suggest that our current system needs to be deconstructed) and she points to the lack of female leaders (to suggest that we need to raise women up to such levels of leadership). Then in a striking move, she points out that abused women don’t have any women to turn to!
Is the problem male predators or the lack of women leaders? It seems that Beth Moore, like many others, is missing the mark. She is conflating two different issues and drawing misguided conclusions that place a bullseye upon the doctrine of complementarianism.
Male headship is not a product of the fall. It’s an aspect of God’s blueprint for his people that predates the fall. When we examine the creation account, we see that Adam was created first and then Eve. It was Adam who was given charge of naming all of the animals (Gen. 2:20) and Adam likewise named Eve—his wife (Gen. 2:23). Adam was given charge to work (another responsibility of man that predates the fall). Adam’s headship was God’s plan and we find the commentary on this in various places in the New Testament—such as Ephesians 5:31 where Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 as he describes the mysterious relationship between Christ and his bride the Church. In that passage, Paul drives home the responsibility of the husband to love and lead his wife. Once again, this is not a post-fall responsibility—it predates the fall.
How Is This an Assault upon the Church?
First of all, when complementarianism is attacked, we should see it as an assault upon biblical truth. So, a move away from complementarianism is a move away from the Bible. That’s always dangerous. If we truly care for the little girls and the women within evangelical circles, wouldn’t we want to cling tightly to the text of Scripture instead of promoting a road that’s filled with dangerous potholes that ends in utter disaster? The egalitarian road is unbiblical and harmful to women in the sense that it asks women to do what God never designed them to do. Such burdens are harmful. One of the worst ways to harm the little girls and the women within the Church is to lead them down a path that is simply put—unbiblical.
Secondly, to assault complementarianism and to suggest that people who are committed to a firm (broad) complementarian position are to blame for harming women is to charge God with sin. Who is ultimately responsible for complementarian theology? It’s God’s theology! God created male and female and he created them differently. One of the aspects of God’s good design from the beginning is the way Eve complemented Adam in her differences that were used to be a help to her husband.
God’s design in a broad complementarianism glorifies him with this radiant imagery that points to the relationship between Christ and his bride—the Church (see Ephesians 5 and the idea of headship put on display clearly). To suggest that it’s somehow the catalyst of sexual misconduct, abuse of power, and the assault of women is to charge God with sin. To which Paul, when teaching the hard truths about the doctrine of election, stated pointedly, “Who are you, O man, to answer back to God” (Rom. 9:20)?
We are dealing with ultra sensitive matters at this juncture in this controversial debate. Not only must we use logic, we must be firmly committed to careful biblical hermeneutics and exegesis. In the process, we must come to conclusions on these matters pertaining to sexual abuse scandals, complementarianism, egalitarianism, and leadership boundaries through a God honoring handling of the Bible rather than emotionalism or pragmatism.
To Beth Moore’s point, I would ask an honest question. When she states that abused women in “the system” have no women to turn to, I would ask—why not? Do they not have a local church to turn to? Do they not have faithful women within their local church to care for them? Do they not have biblical elders who desire to shepherd their souls? Have we minimized the importance of the local church?
In the case where false teachers and wolves have sought out victims within the context of a local church, while the abused women may not feel that they have any pastors to turn to (in the immediate context of their abuse within their local church), they will have women who will care for them within their church. Beyond that point, they will have the authorities to turn to (according to Romans 13) who have been instituted by God for the protection of the abused and the process of executing justice in our broken world. Such abusers and wolves should fear the sword.
Placing women into leadership positions will not solve this problem. The reason that assaulting complementarianism assaults the Church is because when people move away from a firm complementarian position—it leads the Church to embrace various forms of egalitarianism which will always be a step in the wrong direction.
Furthermore, it misses the real point altogether. Men who commit crimes of sexual assault and abuse their power with sexual advances and misconduct toward little girls and women within the Church are not true complementarians. They are wolves. Simply put, they are monsters who prey upon the weaker vessel to satisfy their own sinful desires. They do not represent true complementarian theology.
Complementarianism serves to protect women from home intruders and spiritual wolves, heretics, and false prophets. This is God’s plan for both the home, the local church, and the society as a whole. It is God’s design for spiritual men, led by the Spirit of God, would lead in both the physical and spiritual spheres.
We must make sure the whole wide world knows that abusive men are not overly passionate complementarians, zealous complementarians, or aggressive complementarians — they’re not complementarians at all. Such a man has abandoned his post as provider and protector resulting in the abuse of women, and in some tragic cases—little girls.
Stop assaulting God’s truth in order to press a political agenda fueled by social justice which is very sympathetic to the egalitarian position. Any assault upon complementarian theology is an assault upon God’s Church. In many ways, we can look at this theological distinction through a positive lens that focuses upon what women can do. Being equal in value and dignity as image bearers—women can do many things for God’s glory. In fact, women have a high calling within God’s creation. However, we must not view boundaries as a bad thing since such fences in Scripture (1 Timothy 2-3 and elsewhere such as Genesis 1-2 and Ephesians 5) serve for the care of God’s people, God’s Church, and to promote the glory of God.
Any evangelical group, including the Southern Baptist Convention, that desires to open the gates to any form of egalitarianism in the name of caring well for women who have been assaulted are doing nothing more than assaulting the very bride of Christ. Since God has not been silent on this in his Word—we must not sit back and remain silent on such a vitally important theological matter. God’s Church needs faithful men and women who will speak up and tell the truth about God’s good design for men and women—designed and created in both appearance and function for the glory of God.
Perhaps you remember the little line, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” I was taught that idea in my elementary school as a boy by well-meaning teachers. However, that little line is simply not true. Names do hurt people and in fact, they can leave deep scars for people to struggle with for their entire life.
The Fruit of Slander
Slander occurs when someone shares something about someone else that is not factual, or perhaps partially true, but results in damaging the individual’s reputation. The subtlety of slander can occur over a casual coffee conversation among friends or it can happen as a means of asking prayer for someone who left your church or a staff member in your local church who people are having a hard time following, or a hundred other examples could fit this equation.
The fruit of slander is that it damages the perception of another individual in the mind of one or more people. Sometimes slander is obvious and at other times it flies beneath the surface and is not easily detected. Sometimes the heart of one person is not pure and due to jealousy one friend slanders another person to keep their close friends from becoming close to the person being slandered. The ungodly competition factor among groups of friends precipitates the sin of slander which often hinders the growth of friendships. This can be true among high school friends as well as a local church.
The end result of slander is the devaluation of a person in the eyes of others. Sometimes this happens in the locker room of a football team among athletes, at lunch among middle schoolers who want to remain at the top of the “cool list” among friends, and sadly—it happens circles within local churches.
Slander is the sharing of speculation and hearsay about someone that results in a negative depiction of another person and a decline in their reputation. This can result in broken friendships, divided families, and fractures among a local church. When you see friendships broken and families leave a church due to slander, it can be a very discouraging thing to witness. The fruit of slander is not sweet and it never glorifies God.
The Root of Slander
Slander is deceptive, destructive, and devious. Simply stated, God hates slander. In Proverbs 6:16-19, we find these words:
There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
To call slander anything other than sin would be to miss the mark. Slander is sinful and God views it as an abomination. Why such strong hatred by God for the sin of slander? Consider what Solomon writes about the value of a person’s name:
Proverbs 22:1 – A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.
Ecclesiastes 7:1 – A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth.
Since a good name and a person’s good reputation is such a valuable thing that can be ruined through slanderous lips, God considers it evil and he hates it. According to James 3:15-16, the practice of slander is demonic. People who engage in slandering other people are being led by demons—not the Spirit of God. The root of slander is a heart that is either wayward or completely unconverted.
Because slander is one of the greatest poisons that can be injected into the life of a local church to divide it, God hates it and opposes it strongly. God places a high priority upon unity among the church (see the word “maintain” in Eph. 4:3). Any movement to divide a local church by slanderous accusations and speech is simply devilish. We live in a cut-throat society where people are willing to do whatever necessary to achieve success. The church, however, is called to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace for the glory of God.
Rather than stealing a person’s reputation by slander, we should guard people’s reputation. Rather than sharing and receiving slanderous talk about others, we should reject it and correct the person slandering others. A loose tongue is a deadly weapon—one that Satan rejoices in using.
When Korah slandered Moses, God was not pleased with the people and he judged them swiftly (see Numbers 16). Certainly we know that one day every person will give account of how they used their tongue—including every word that proceeds from our lips (Matt. 12:36-37). However, when we’re slandered, we must not attempt to vindicate ourselves in an ungoldly manner. We must go through the means of biblical church discipline (confrontation see Matt. 18:15-20). However, if it’s someone outside the church throwing rocks at you, hear the words of Charles Spurgeon who was commenting on Psalm 119:23-24:
The best way to deal with slander is to pray about it: God will either remove it, or remove the sting from it. Our own attempts at clearing ourselves are usually failures. Be quiet and let your Advocate plead your cause.
 C.H. Spurgeon, edited by J. I. PACKER, “Introduction,” in Psalms, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 188.
When we become followers of Christ, it’s often the case within many evangelical circles that a very shallow and pragmatic approach to evangelism is immediately taught and modeled. So, what should our evangelism look like and why is this such a vitally important thing to get right from the beginning?
Jesus has given us a commission to go and make disciples, but to hear many people talk about evangelism, it’s very rigidly program driven, fad centered, and often focused on a person’s personal testimony rather than the gospel. We are not called to convert people. We are called to share the gospel and when we do—we trust God for the results.
As we consider a proper method of evangelism, there are two B’s that need to accompany our approach.
B-1: Beg God to Save Sinners
To hear some people describe or even teach on the subject of evangelism, it seems that they are more interested in the tricks or schemes that get people to respond as opposed to trusting in the sovereignty of God to awaken unbelievers to the truth of the gospel.
I recall years ago attending a special meeting held in our town where an evangelist had come to preach the gospel. He had asked for volunteers from various different churches to work as counselors each night. To be a counselor, you had to go to a preliminary class to be prepared to counsel people when they respond at the end of the service. I later discovered that part of the preparation and training involved telling the counselors to wait until a specific moment during his invitation to get up and come forward from all around the audience which would free others to get up and respond too. This priming of the pump technique is nothing more than a gimmick to get results. We must remember that the Holy Spirit doesn’t need our help in causing people to make a move toward God.
One of the things that we fail to do in evangelism is to pray. How much are we begging God to save sinners? The apostle Paul had a big head that resulted in a swelling heart for unbelievers. Paul prayed these words to God:
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen (Rom. 9:3-5).
Paul’s instruction of the church at Rome turned into a prayer for his Jewish brothers and sisters—his kinsmen according to the flesh. How often are we begging God to save sinners? What about co-workers? What about friends? What about family members? Do we have a zeal for God that results in a brokenness for unbelievers?
If all of the big God theology truths do not cause your heart to swell with love for unbelievers and a steady prayer to God for their soul—there’s something massively wrong with your devotion and worship of God.
B-2: Brag on God to Sinners
If you’ve ever met a new grandparent—you’ve probably encountered the zeal and joy of a person who looks for an opportunity to openly brag about how beautiful, wonderful, and sweet their new grandchild actually is (with pictures to prove it).
Evangelism involves first of all, a proper explanation of the gospel. Since the gospel means good news about how God saves sinners—that presupposes the fact that you must begin with an honest acknowledgement of sin and a person’s need for salvation through Jesus Christ. Without the hearing of the gospel, they will not be saved (Rom. 10:17).
Bragging on God to sinners involves pointing people to the fact that a God who sovereignly created the entire universe and owes sinners nothing has sent his Son to the cross as the payment for the salvation of wretched sinners. You can likewise brag on God for saving you when you were not owed anything good from God (Rom. 5:8).
Far too much evangelism is centered on bragging on self rather than bragging on God. If people hear you evangelize and remember more about you than they do about God and his saving gospel—how effective is such a presentation? People are not saved by listening to our story. People are saved by God’s story of redemption which centers on the sacrifice of his Son in the place fo ruined sinners. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once made this statement:
The one and only medium through which the Spirit works is the Scriptures; therefore, we “reason out of the Scriptures” like Paul did. 
So, a pointed question for you: when was the last time you actually shared the gospel with someone? What’s preventing you from bragging on God? Grandparents don’t have to go to a course to learn how to be happy about having a grandchild. The desire to share the gospel should be present within every Christian. Yes, sharing the gospel is necessary. It’s impossible to share the gospel without using words. Nobody has ever been saved by another person being nice to them or living out the gospel before them.
Perhaps you’ve been actively sharing the gospel for a while, but you’re not seeing a lot of results. Remember, we can’t evaluate our faithfulness in evangelism by the number of converts. However, if we are not seeing a lot of results, we should not be satisfied with it. We do plant and water and trust God for the harvest—but when the harvest doesn’t come, we need to beg God for souls.
1 Corinthians 3:6 – I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, quoted by Will Metzger in Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel Wholly by Grace Communicated Truthfully Lovingly, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002) 57.
Little boys grow up playing baseball with the big dream of making it to the professional league some day. A very small percentage of boys actually see that dream realized. However, upon arriving at their first big league ball practice—they suddenly discover that they still have coaches. In fact, they have more coaches as a professional than they did when they were playing at lower levels. They still are required to practice the fundamentals of the game. In short, professional baseball players never reach a place where they arrive at full development, knowledge, and wisdom so that they do not require a coaching staff.
The best athletes are those who always keep a teachable spirit and are willing to make necessary adjustments as they continue to develop even as a professional player. One of the most discouraging things to watch is someone who has a massive amount of talent, but they suffer from the “know it all” syndrome which plagues them and consistently holds them back.
Within the church, we must approach discipleship with a teachable spirit. First of all, the members of the church are placed under the leadership of pastors for the purpose of spiritual development. In Ephesians 4, Paul wrote these words to the church in Ephesus (and the surrounding cities):
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Eph. 4:11-14).
Notice the language of equipping, building up, unity of the faith, attaining knowledge, and mature manhood. This is the process of discipleship. As a disciple (which means learner) develops, he or she is able to avoid the traps of the wicked one which may include temptations to sin or temptations to embrace false teaching. If a Christian ever arrives at a place where he or she believes that the church is not necessary or that they’ve arrived at a level of knowledge that’s superior so they don’t need the teaching ministry of local church pastors—they’ve arrived in a very dangerous place. The “know it all” syndrome plagues and hinders Christians too—not just budding baseball players.
Another thing to remember about discipleship is that teachers need to be discipled too. One of the great joys of my life has been to see our church embrace an eldership that involves the preaching of fellow pastors on Sunday evenings that allows me to sit under the preaching of the Word on a regular basis. It’s important for me to learn too. God’s blueprint for the local church is critically important and a plurality of elders who oversee the church is vitally important for the development of a pastor’s spiritual growth. A “know it all” pastor is dangerous! Remember what Paul said to the Ephesian elders when he called them to himself before his departure:
You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house (Acts 20:18–20).
In Psalm 119, the psalmist makes a statement that’s really a picture of discipleship 101. He writes the following in Psalm 119:12-13:
Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
Notice how the psalmist prays to the LORD to teach him his statutes. In return, the psalmist commits to teaching the rules of God. If you know much about Psalm 119, all of the synonyms such as rules, statutes, testimonies, and commands are pointing to the sufficiency of God’s Word. Interestingly enough, long before Acts 1:8 or Matthew 28:18-20 was uttered and eventually penned down—we find a simple blueprint for discipleship. We are to be consistently learning God’s Word in order that we can teach others. Discipleship involves making disciples who go and make disciples who make disciples.
Are you a know it all? Do you suffer from a lack of teachability? Don’t hinder your growth and your ability to make disciples for the glory of God.
Far too often, Christians complain that they’re not praying enough. Statistics point to the reality that many evangelicals find time for recreation, physical fitness, soccer practices, and business responsibilities—but they spend precious little time in prayer. In fact, according to Barna Research Group, 82% of Americans pray silently and alone rather than with the gathered church with only 2% praying with the gathered church family.
So, what’s the cause? Are we busier than Christians were in the past? Perhaps we are busier, but aren’t we more connected through technology to useful tools to make our lives more efficient? So, why are we spending less time in prayer and more time on other things?
The problem may not be soccer practice or business responsibilities that’s crowding out our prayer time. The problem is likely connected to a lack of time in God’s Word. Those who spend time in the Word typically spend time in prayer as well. The neglect of God’s Word precipitates a neglect of prayer. According to a Pew Forum research study, there’s a direct connection between the frequency of the study of Scripture and prayer.
As we read Psalm 119, we find the opening section focused on God’s Word and the importance of the precepts, statutes, testimonies, commandments, and rules of God. In verse four, the psalmist writes:
You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
This is what God has commanded—that his Word be kept with diligence. So, what does the psalmist do next? He prays! In verse five we find the following words of the psalmist:
Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
The reading and meditation of God’s Word resulted in the psalmist turning to God in prayer to request that God would keep him steadfastly focused on obeying God’s Word. If that’s true of the psalmist—it’s likely the same result for us today. Thomas Brooks once said, “The best and sweetest flowers of Paradise God gives to His people when they are upon their knees. Prayer is the gate of heaven, a key to let us in to Paradise.” The more we read and internalize God’s Word, the more we will need to pray.
We will need to pray as a result of seeing the imperfections and faults in our own life. The Holy Spirit reveals sin and confronts our hearts through the Scriptures.
We will need to pray to request God’s strength in order to walk faithfully in obedience.
We will want to pray in order to praise God and worship him.
We will desire to pray in order to make our needs known to God.
We will have a desire to pray out of thanksgiving for all of God’s blessings—none of which are greater than the blood sacrifice of his Son for our redemption.
Rather than trying to figure out tricks that would enable you to pray to God more efficiently—why not begin with carving out time to spend in God’s Word which will result in a desire to respond to God in prayer? Prayer and God’s Word go together as the psalmist exemplifies in Psalm 119:4-5.
As we look at the broken world around us socially and feel the intensity of the political pressures—we should be moved to pray. When leaders fail or fall, we should be moved to pray. Jerry Bridges once wrote these words:
Prayer assumes the sovereignty of God. If God is not sovereign, we have no assurance that He is able to answer our prayers. Our prayers would become nothing more than wishes. But while God’s sovereignty, along with his wisdom and love, is the foundation of our trust in Him, prayer is the expression of that trust. 
God is sovereign over every detail and he controls the ruler’s heart—turning it whatever way he so desires. Let us remember these words and follow in the footsteps of faithful men like the psalmist who points us to the sufficient Word and exemplifies a life of consistent prayer.
Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1988), 107.
We are often introduced to the Puritans through the lens of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. However, if your view of the Puritans is centered on a group of religious people who were hunting down witches—you don’t know the Puritans at all.
In the documentary PURITAN: All of Life to the Glory of Godyou will walk through the hallways of history to discover this group of people who sought to purify the Church of England and would eventually flee for religious freedom. You will learn names like John Bunyan, Thomas Goodwin, Richard Sibbes, John Owen, Richard Baxter, William Perkins, John Flavel, Jonathan Edwards, and D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
What you will come to appreciate about the Puritans is there unflinching and bold resolve in the face of persecution. They had an immense love for God’s Word, not just because they perceived it to be a special book—but because they understood that through the pages of sacred Scripture they would come to know God intimately. It was their firm commitment to the Word of God that distinguishes them from other groups throughout church history.
The Puritans were willing to risk it all—including the suffering of imprisonment and martyrdom for the sake of the gospel. While we may remember many things about them such as their strict adherence to the text of Scripture—such commitment to the Word resulted in a rich devotion and biblically grounded worship of God. In the documentary, Sinclair Ferguson observes:
The principle of the Puritans, how does God want to be worshiped?—would be like a cold shower in the middle of the night to many churches in our day. It has just simply never crossed their minds.
The Puritans were not only shaped by the Word of God, but they labored to make sure the whole world had access to the Scriptures. Among the Puritans you will find bold preachers like John Bunyan and towering intellectuals like John Owen. The Puritans were both highly educated and uneducated common folk—but in all cases they were deeply devoted to their God and believed that their lives should orient around God and his Word.
You will learn about how the Puritans lived, suffered, worshiped, and what they believed about the doctrines of grace, the church, and other important theological truths. You will trace their commitment to reaching their culture with the good news of Jesus as well. We are commanded to do everything to the glory of God, and that includes the production of documentaries like this one which exemplifies that Christian commitment. The flow of the documentary is easy to follow and doesn’t require a degree in church history to grasp the big picture of the storyline of the Puritans. Furthermore, the graphics and illustrations that are used in the film are of the highest caliber and result in an appealing story that you will want to see more than once.
I do think the film would be great for a family to have in their library, but it’s a necessity for every church to have it in their library as well. Beyond the documentary, there are workbooks and other resources if you want to go deeper into knowing the Puritans.
You can learn more about this engaging documentary at Media Gratiae