Saturday, December 27, 2014

2015 - Three Signs of the Spirit Driven Church

The year 2014 was filled with many challenges that through the Holy Spirit we were able to weather through.

Our churches threw off the government yoke of 501 (c)3 slavery and ended any and all incorporation.  This caused a name change where the Synod voted unanimously through congregations to adopt the name Puritan Church in America.  

This caused an immediate reaction from the state boards of incorporation but a review by the 5th US District Court immediately put any questions of our legal standing as a Free Church to rest.

We faced in June the influx of Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Presbyterian congregations joining our fellowships.  Our church numbers grew from 27 to over 60.  While joyous and a cause for celebration in the Spirit, we found quickly that unresolved issues in those fellowships spilled into all.  Quickly the Synod acted to firmly establish order and discipline in all congregations.

It is with much thanksgiving, prayer, and humility that we thank Almighty God for the blessings of the past year.  It is with the same we look to 2015.  We wish to exhibit these three signs of a Spirit Driven Church.

One, care for the widow and orphans.  The first fruits of all collections whether monetary or material belong to the widow and orphan.  Each congregation is to care for those within the congregation and those outside in the community.  This is a scriptural command we are bound to follow.  2015 shall be the year we in the Synod firmly ask that each congregation does so.

Two, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, visiting the sick and imprisoned.  This again is a scriptural warrant that each congregation is bound in obedience to.  As the light of the world we are to show mercy that those who see imitate our example and give glory to God.

Three, stepping outside the church and into the world.  We are all individually the church, and the church is not now nor has it ever been buildings.  The church is the bride of Christ and not an institution.  As such we are called to a public proclamation of Christ in the greater community.  It is the hope all congregations will develop and implement a public ministry program.  Whether street preaching, sponsoring public improvement projects, or hosting an event at a public park it is the call of each and every Christian to be the public face of faith in Jesus Christ.

Our focus should never be purpose but the Spirit.  Our purpose is very clear - give glory to God in all we do.  By focusing on the Spirit we live our purpose with support from God and understand that what we do to the least we do to Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Our Missionary Bishop In Nagoya, Japan

This is our missionary bishop in Nagoya, Japan, Rev. Daniel Rea and his wife Itsuko.  If you could possibly go to their church website Christian Church of Japan and in the "Contact Form" ask how you can help them start a homeless day center in Nagoya, Japan it would help many needing people.

Thank you and God bless you.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Bishop Daniel Rea and Wife Itsuko

Our Bishop in Nagoya, Japan and his wife have been featured in a Japanese travel magazine Japan Visitor and on their blog as well.  They work with the homeless and minister to them.

From the article:

Over the coming year, JapanVisitor will be following the work of the Rev. Daniel Rea in Nagoya, an American Puritan, experienced and committed to finding practical solutions to the homelessness problem in Nagoya, after his previous work with the disadvantaged in Houston, Texas.

Rev. Daniel Rea has produced a comprehensive plan for a homeless day care center in Nagoya with costings and a needs analysis of the current homelessness problems of the city.

The full article can be read here: Homeless Problem in Nagoya

A follow up article has also been added about Bishop Rea and his wife, Itsuko ministering to the homeless at Meijo Park in Nagoya.

The efforts of Rev. Daniel Rea to address the homeless population in Nagoya, Japan's 4th largest city, include an out-reach to other churches active in the area addressing this pressing social problem, in an effort to co-ordinate a united policy for tackling the issue.

Full article here: Homeless in Meijo Park

Please keep Bishop Daniel Rea and his wife, Itsuko, in your prayers.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Geneva and King James Bibles Still Approved For Public Worship

Approved by a majority of congregations, clergy, and the USA Synod. 
Full and Final Draft October 8, 2014
All fellowships and ministers notified

As Puritans we never used the Authorized King James (AKJV) of 1609 or 1611 until 1875 when a choice was given in public worship between the Geneva and AKJV.  The Bible every Puritan family had in their home was not the KJV of 1609 or 1611. The Bible which they carried was the Geneva Bible. The Geneva Bible was the most widely read and influential English Bible of the l6th and 17th centuries, which was printed from 1560 to 1644 in over 200 different printings. As a product of superior translation by the best Protestant scholars of its day, it became the Bible of choice for many of the greatest writers, thinkers and historical figures of its day. 

Puritans John Bunyan and John Milton used the Geneva Bible, which is reflected in their writings. During the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell issued a pamphlet containing excerpts from the Geneva Bible to his troops. The Geneva Bible was even brought with the Pilgrims when they set sail on the Mayflower and was the generally accepted text among the Puritans. William Bradford cited it in his book Of Plymouth Plantation. 

This tradition carried into the Congregational Churches and into the Church of Christ as well.  Although the Presbyterian Congregations began to use the AKJV it was not until 1928 that the Church of Christ turned to the AKJV from the Geneva.  Many of the Congregational Churches turned to the Living Bible in 1975.  Today Puritans still use the Geneva and AKJV and some congregations have begun to use the Living Bible and New International Version.

Now that we have formed a congregation from the Puritan, Congregational, Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Anglican, and Presbyterian churches that have split with their former denominations for various reasons, and circumstances dictate we must face a reality that in public worship we must have consistency for the benefit of our congregations.  We simply cannot have congregations using which ever translation happens to turn up.  It is causing confusion among our flocks and this is not good.

Since May 2011, when we first began uniting for a joint communion we have discussed what translation would best for unity in our congregations.  The The translations still approved for public worship in the Puritan Church in America, effective October 19, 2014 is the Geneva and Authorized King James versions.   In the home, of course, the faithful are free to use whatever translation they please, but in public worship the Geneva and AKJV shall be used.  The benefit is that the majority of churches use these two translations.  Both translations are widely available and are inexpensive for those who do not already own a copy of either Bible.

Our synod for the last three years has been looking at alternative translations that were more "modern" and have the latest "scriptural scholarship and knowledge".  In almost every case we were disappointed at the rewriting of God's word or the absolute acceptance of heresy in these "translations".  What we found is that the Geneva and AKJV still both possess the finest scriptural scholarship.  

An option was the Living Bible (LB) or New International Version (NIV).  In the preface of the LB and NIV we read that one goal of the editors was to "produce in the receptor language the closest natural equivalent of the message expressed by the original-language text—both in meaning and in style," But when we examined the version it seems that there was no real attempt by the LB editors to reproduce the style of the original, or even the meaning of the text beyond a very basic and simplified level.  The NIV editors wanted a translation that was gender neutral and one that "was non judging and presents Christian faith as a tolerant faith".  Rather, it appears that the main idea was simply to make the version easy to read at all costs. It should be understood that the "dynamic equivalence" approach to translation does not in itself require such a reductionistic treatment of the text. The simplifications are a consequence of the self-imposed need to dramatize biblical stories and render a genderless reading.  What was accomplished was a rewriting of scripture in both LB and NIV that a true Christian congregation would refuse.

In May of 2012 we began to reach out to scriptural scholars from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Georgetown , and the Presbyterian Reformed Seminary in Baltimore.  The scholars looked at the NIV and found too many theological errors.  The next was the NKJV and again there were errors of theology and also problematic translating that reduced Divine Revelation as dreams and not communication with the one true God.  The next translation looked at was the New American Bible.

The New American Bible (NAB) contains all 73 books as the original Geneva that Puritans use.  In fact new scholarship has improved the rendering of Tobit and 1 and 2 Maccabees better than the Geneva.  The NAB was translated from original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls for the NT and OT, with some influence from the Vulgate in the Apocrypha. What the final product renders is a translation that holds true to the theology and to the intent of the Hebrew, Koine Greek, and Aramaic.

While The New American Bible is a great translation, it is still a Roman Catholic Bible and the in line notations and the footnotes show this.  The publisher is not willing to remove the Catholic constitutional pages or the Papal approval for printing for a Protestant client.  As Puritans we simply cannot use a Bible that promotes Catholic doctrine and Papal authority in a Bible for use in our public worship.

With all of the above the Puritan Church in America shall continue to use the Geneva and / or the Authorized King James translations in public worship.  While the apocryphal books may be used in teaching, it is not necessary to have a Geneva edition with the books in it.  As Protestants we are free to dismiss these books as non inspired by God. We ask our overseas affiliates to use either the Geneva or AKJV as well.

Understand, at our homes we are free to use any translation that promotes ease of understanding and reading.  For our public worship we shall use the Geneva and King James translations.

USA Synod
Plymouth, MA

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Christmas and Easter Directive

As our Anglican, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and Methodist members have settled into our Puritan traditions after splitting from their former denominations for various reasons, we now will begin the Christmas and Easter directives in the US Puritan Church and in our Puritan affiliates over seas.

Protestants have not always celebrated Christmas and Easter. 

Separating themselves from the Roman Catholic Church practices, Protestant Reformation leaders were generally critical of the existing “feast and saint days” of the Roman Catholic Church. For good reason, they are unscriptural and of pagan origin.

The celebration of Christmas became a point of contention among many Protestants. Reformation leader Martin Luther permitted the continuation of certain Catholic feast days, including Christmas. Henry VIII allowed Christmas to be kept in the Anglican calendar.  Other reformers, including John Calvin and John Knox, preferred to worship only where specifically commanded in the Bible.

It was only in the 19th century with the beginning of the "Ecumenical Movement" that Protestants outside the Lutheran and Anglican traditions began to allow Christmas celebrations.

As Puritans it is important that we hold strictly to the scriptures and to Christian traditions.  We are not to hold to the traditions and celebrations of pagans.  Our Savior was clear in this:

So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
“‘This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me;  in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
Matthew 15: 6-9

Note that  in the first two centuries of New England, and then the USA most people did not celebrate Christmas.  Strange as this may sound, Protestant Christians outside Lutherans and Anglicans in New England (Pilgrims/Puritans, Congregationalists, Quakers, Baptists, Methodists, Reformed Episcopals, and Presbyterians) did not celebrate Christmas.  In fact, it was actually illegal to celebrate Christmas in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681.  Even after the American Revolution, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America's new constitution.

Christmas did not become a US national holiday until after the Civil War by then President Grant's declaration in 1870 and then approved by congress the following year.

Christmas and Easter are not Christian holidays and they are not to be celebrated in Puritan churches.

Christmas has never been celebrated in the Puritan Church for four reasons.

First, Puritans do not believe that Jesus was born in either December or January. The Bible does not give a specific date. Luke 2:8-11:

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Facts point to Jesus’ birth at approximately the beginning of  May when shepherds with their flocks would begin to spend the night in the fields. The countryside around Bethlehem experiences the coldest weather during the months of December and January. Hence, to keep them warm at night, flocks are herded into protective shelters.

A second reason: The only event Jesus specifically instructed his followers to commemorate was his death, not his birth, and this was to be done as a simple communion meal. (Luke 22:19, 20) Note, too, that the Gospels of Mark and John are silent about Jesus’ birth.

 A third reason: There is no historical evidence that the early Christians celebrated the birth of the Christ. But they did memorialize his death. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) It was not until more than 300 years after Jesus’ birth that Christendom officially began to observe Christmas on December 25.  Our Puritan ancestors had an act of parliament passed that banned Christmas celebrations in England. In the United States, the Massachusetts General Court did the same, “There is no biblical or historical reason to place the birth of Jesus on December 25.  Christmas was nothing but a pagan festival covered with a Christian veneer.”

That brings us to a fourth reason: The unsavory origin of the celebration itself. The roots of Christmas can be traced back to pagan Rome with its mixture of festivals for honoring the agricultural god Saturn and the sun god Sol Invictus, or Mithra.  As noted by Puritan bishop Cotton Mather, “Like many pre-Christian customs and beliefs, the old feast commemorating the yearly return of the sun was rededicated to the birth of Christ.”

In view of the foregoing, can you see why Puritans refuse to celebrate Christmas?

A word now on Easter.

Luther at first was apprehensive about allowing Easter to be celebrated.  He had strong personal feelings against Easter because of its pagan and also occult roots.  In the end he relented to the demand of German congregations wishing to "have something to enjoy for all the labors of the past year and feast on the bounty of our hard labors." Apology of the Augsburg Confession

Henry VIII issued a royal warrant making Easter an Anglican celebration in 1534 in the Act of Supremacy which split Anglicans from the Roman Catholic Church and formed the Church of England with the Crown of England as the "Defender of the Faith and head of the Church".

Easter, like Christmas, was not a Protestant celebration until well after the dawn of the 19th century.  Easter was adopted by Methodists in 1847 in order to "Become more conformed to other denominations" Methodist Book of Order  Presbyterians in 1866 to "Thank almighty God for the victory of the Union." Book of Worship  By the Convention of American Baptists in 1870 for the same reason.

The celebration of Easter is not based on the Bible. If you look into its history, though, you will see the true meaning of Easter—it is a tradition based on ancient fertility rites. Consider the following.

  1. Name: The Westminster Religion Encyclopedia says: “The English name Easter is of Druid origin; the Anglo-Saxon priest Venerable Bede in the 8th century derived it from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre.” Others link it to Astarte, the Phoenician fertility goddess who had the Babylonian counterpart Ishtar.
  2. Hares, rabbits: These are symbols of fertility “handed down from the ancient ceremonial and symbolism of European and Middle Eastern pagan spring festivals.— Catholic Encyclopedia of Symbols.
  3. Eggs: According to The Oxford Dictionary of Religion, the hunt for Easter eggs, supposedly brought by the Easter rabbit, “is not mere child’s play, but the vestige of a fertility rite.” Some cultures believed that the decorated Easter egg “could magically bring happiness, prosperity, health, and protection.”—Traditional Festivals.
  4. New Easter outfit: It was considered discourteous and therefore bad luck to greet the Scandinavian goddess of Spring, or Eastre, in anything but fresh garb.”— The Book Nordic Practices.
  5. Sunrise services: These have been linked to rites of ancient sun worshippers “performed at the vernal equinox welcoming the sun and its great power to bring new life to all growing things.

    There is no doubt that the Church in its early days adopted the old pagan customs and gave a Christian meaning to them. Cotton Mather
    The Bible warns against worshipping God by following traditions or customs that displease him. (Mark 7:6-8) Second Corinthians 6:17 states:
    Separate yourselves,’ says the Lord, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing. 

    Today, Independent Baptists, Reformed Presbyterian General Assembly, Free Reformed Churches in America, and the Church of Christ still refuse Christmas and Easter celebrations in their churches.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

US Synod Supports Scottish Independence

In support of our Reformed Presbyterian brethren in Scotland the US Synod of the Puritan Church in America supports a vote in favor of Scottish Independence at the Referendum on Scottish Independence on 18 September this year.

It is very clear that the British government has drifted too far from the teachings of Christ.  The Anglican Church openly marries homosexuals, ordains homosexuals, and has now consecrated homosexuals as bishops.  This heresy has shown that the Anglican Church is far more concerned with political points than with teaching the gospels of Christ.

The British government has cut in half support for families with children, including day care benefits for working families.  While London says it because of funding shortages the defence budget has increased five fold over the last decade.  This year the defence budget stands at $60 billion.  This simply shows London is more concerned with funding a war machine where there is no threat rather than helping British families in need.

The British government simply is not leading with justice but rather is committing all of Britain to increased poverty and over whelming debt.  The people of Britain deserve better and deserve a government that leads by Christian principles and morals.

For these reasons the Puritan Church in America supports our Reformed Presbyterian Church brethren in their endeavor for a free and independent Scotland.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ministerial Requirements

As approved by the USA Synod and sent to our fellowship abroad.  A statement on ministerial requirements.

As Puritans we have avoided demanding our ministers be graduates of secular or accredited schools.  We wish to affirm this position and to offer an explanation why.

All too often, humble and anointed Christian ministers get beat up by fellow Christians and secular society telling them they are unqualified to teach the Bible. Without a seminary degree, they are told, a person is insufficiently trained to handle the Word of God. But we must ask now as Puritans always have, "Since when do accredited universities and theological seminaries determine who should preach and teach God's Word?" Actually, the Bible gives precise and complete ministry qualifications which should be sufficient for anyone who is called to the ministry. Paul tells us to "beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Colossians 2:8).

Certainly, there is nothing wrong with a ministry degree, or with an education but if the purpose of the degree is to get the praise of men or add a title to your name, then we must ask about motivation. "Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away" (Job 32:21-22). 

As Puritans we founded America's first university, Harvard.  This wonderful university was taken over by the Anglicans and now look at the secular trash taught at this once great school of Christian faith and service.  This is why our Puritan schools have always and now reject accreditation.  

Jesus instructed his disciples not to be like the Pharisees who loved the best seats in the synagogues and took on titles such as "Rabbi", "Father", and "Master" (Matthew 23:1-12). Jesus taught by example that greatness in the Kingdom of God is based upon servant hood.

Seminaries today that are accredited are required to:
  • Hire non-Christians
  • Hire homosexuals
  • Include in their curriculum Darwinian theory, secular classes such as psychology and sociology, and secular humanistic philosophy
  • Hire only government accrediting agency approved educators and administrators
We simply refuse all this.  It is contrary to our faith and the Word of God.  We shall continue to educate our ministers at our seminaries.  While the degree received is not "accredited" it does show our candidates meet the Gospel standards of ministry.
  • They are called by the Holy Spirit
  • They have moral disposition
  • Honor their father and mother
  • Are good husbands and fathers
  • Control their household and children
  • They have the faith
  • They have a solid foundation of the scriptures
  • They have obedience to God and clerical authority
  • They are a Christian for at least three years before application
  • They believe sound doctrine
  • They are not alcoholics or drug addicts
  • They are heterosexual
  • They are not sexual deviants
  • They are righteous in Christ
  • They are not violent, given to rage, or covetous
  • They have been approved by our vocation committee and ministerial board
 Like the apostles of the New Testament, Puritan ministers are diligent students of the Word and have an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Each day we are learning more what Paul meant when he said, "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier" (II Timothy 2:4).

We uphold the standards of Christ above those of secular society and men.  We call upon all our bishops in the USA and abroad to form a seminary in their region as soon as is practical to do so.

Bishop Peter Morimoto, President USA Synod

Bishop Peter Morimoto

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Plymouth Statement of Faith

The Puritan Church approves the Plymouth Statement of Faith this 25th day of June 2014 in Plymouth, MA on the final day of the 2014 Convention with a majority of clergy and members.  There were no changes made to the 1985 version.  Delegates voted in majority to keep the rendering.  Here reads the final draft as approved.

The Puritan Church in America is a free church.  Following Puritan Church traditions. A "free church" is a Christian denomination that is intrinsically separated from civil government.  Refuses incorporation. It is A fellowship of believers. A free church recognizes strict separation of church and government.  
We Believe:

  1. The Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God, without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men and the Divine and final authority of Christian faith and life.
  2. In one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect and eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  3. That Jesus Christ is true God and true man, having been conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He died on the cross, a sacrifice for our sins according to the Scriptures. Further, He arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven, where, at the right hand of the Majesty on High, He is now our High Priest and Advocate.
  4. That the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and, during this age, to convict men, save the believing sinner, and indwell, guide, instruct and empower the believer for godly living and service.
  5. That man was created in the image of God but fell into sin and is, therefore, lost, and only through by the power of the Holy Spirit can salvation and spiritual life be obtained.
  6. That the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection provide the only ground for justification and salvation for all who believe, and only such as receive Jesus Christ are born of the Holy Spirit and, thus become children of God.
  7. That water baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances to be observed by the Church during the present age. They are, however, not to be regarded as means of salvation.
  8. That the true Church is composed of all such persons who through saving faith in Jesus Christ have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and are united together in the Body of Christ of which He is the Head.
  9. That only those who are, thus, members of the true Church shall be eligible for membership in the local church.
  10. That Jesus Christ is the Lord and Head of the Church and that every local church has the right, under Christ, to decide and govern its own affairs. In consultation with the bishop.
  11. In the personal pre-millennial and imminent coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and that this “Blessed Hope” has a vital bearing on the personal life and service of the believer.
  12. In the bodily resurrection of the dead; of the believer to everlasting blessedness and joy with the Lord; of the unbeliever to judgement and everlasting conscious punishment.

The full statement of our faith is found in the Westminster Confession of 1649 and the Large and Small Westminster Catechisms.

This is the sole statement of the Puritan Church. This is a brief summary, our full statement of faith is the Westminster Statement and catechisms.  The Nicene and Apostle Creeds are the"official" creeds.

Westminster Confession

Westminster Shorter Catechism

Westminster Large Catechism

Creeds and Historic Documents

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Family Motion 5

Motion five has passed by a majority of clergy and members.  The Puritan Church hereby declares that the family is headed by the father as Christ is head of the church.  Marriage is between one man and one woman.  Children do not belong to the parents or community but are gifts from God and for their entire life belong to God and to no human.


Before we get into the dos and don'ts of family life, we shall look at the big picture. What is a family for? Now, the Bible clearly says the family is a God-given institution-and not something cave men stumbled into over millions of years. If God created and blessed the family, it must have a purpose.
What is it?
Romantics make family into a sort of salvation. A husband or wife or kids will solve all your problems, answer all your critics, meet all your needs, and pretty much create a heaven on earth. When this doesn't happen, people wonder why it fell short.  This overly romantic view has increased divorce rates.

The Puritan view doesn't fit into the accepted categories: it isn't liberal or conservative or traditional or reactionary. The best word for it is Christian. The purpose of marriage is not to make you happy or to have legitimate children or to build society or to prepare for retirement (though these are often byproducts of matrimony). No, to our way of thinking, what the family is for is the glory of God. Benjamin Wadsworth wrote,

"Every Christian should do all he can to promote
the glory of God.and the well ordering of matters
in particular families, tends to promote [it]".

Most Americans are not interested in theory. What difference does it make what the family is for as long as it's happy or peaceful or productive?  Christians and Puritans know better: The goal of family life will determine its priorities and practices.

For example, if the family's aim is to glorify God, will the husband and father work eighteen hours a day? Or, will the wife nag her husband into being the spiritual leader? Or will the parents neglect their kids? Or abuse them?

Keep this in mind and your family life will be dramatically better. The destination determines the road you take to get there. The purpose of the family is to glorify God. Very few couples start there. And it shows.


A well ordered Gospel believing home is run by the man of the family. Husband and father imply authority. Not brute strength, but a God-given right to govern wife and children. And not just a right to do it, but a responsibility.
William Perkins wrote,

"The husband is he that hath authority over the wife,
the two being one flesh, but he is also the head
over his wife".

On this point, the Puritans believe exactly what the Bible teaches. The husband is in charge of the home-not because society says so or tradition or religion. It is God who says so,
"The husband is the head of the wife".

If the husband has authority over his wife, it must mean he can do pretty much whatever he pleases and she has no say at all-right? Wrong.
John Robinson says the husband must rule with

"Love and wisdom. His love must be like Christ's
for His Church: holy for quality and great
for quantity".

Benjamin Wadsworth emphasizes the tenderness of the husband's rule,
"A good husband will make his government of
her as easy and gentle as possible, and strive
more to be loved than feared".

Samuel Willard even goes farther, saying the husband ought to rule his wife with such love and wisdom that,
"His wife may take delight in it, and not account
it as slavery, but a liberty and privilege".

Brothers, do we so rule our wives as to make them thankful for it? If you've turned your wife into a drone in the name of godliness, repent of your sin and taking the Lord's name in vain. Remember this: The better you rule your wife, the freer she will be.

You know what a truly liberated woman is? One who's husband leads her in love and wisdom.

If "the husband is the head of the wife", then some would say the wife has no say around the house-except for "yes sir!"
Christians and Puritans know better than this. They understand that ruling your wife includes explaining things to her (not just issuing orders) listening to her, deferring to her when she knows more than you do, and accepting her criticism.

"A man must support his cause from the Scriptures
and lay before her sufficient conviction of her duty"
(Samuel Willard).

In other words, "Because I said so" may be good enough for children and servants, it's not good enough for your wife. You should not only tell her what to do, but explain things to her from the Bible.  It is not easy if she's quarrelsome. But easy or not, it's the right thing to do.
In his diary, Samuel Sewall said he turned the family finances over to his wife because,

"She has a better faculty than I
at managing affairs".

On the same point, John Milton adds,
"Particular exceptions may have place, if she exceed
her husband in prudence and dexterity, and he
contentedly yield, for then a superior law comes
in, that the wiser should rule the less wise,
whether male or female".

The Puritan way of thinking, micromanagement is mismanagement. If your wife knows money better than you do, let her manage it-and do what she says with a good attitude.

But what about criticism? Does a wife have the right to correct her husband? To tell him he's wrong?

Let's define our terms: If by "correct" you mean scold him or despise him or nag him to death, then, no, she doesn't. But if the correction is offered in humility and love, then she has every right to do it.  As Cotton Mather noted:

"Women may and must privately exhort
others.they may also privately admonish
men.she is not so subject but she may
admonish and advise her husband if
she is sure the things she speaks against
are sinful or hurtful".

One more thing: Why does the man have to be in charge? Why can't everything be done with the consent of both husband and wife? In my family, most things are done that way. Maybe 99% of things. But once in a while, the most agreeable couple disagree. 

Somebody has to make the call. Now there are only three options: Either the husband has to do it or the wife has to or they take turns. Taking turns is ridiculous, because it would cancel everything.

Schooling is important. But what my wife and I disagreed on it. The first decision is mine: We're sending them to Christian school. The next decision is hers: We're homeschooling them. Then it's my turn again: Christian school, then hers.on and on it goes. And no decision is made.

A word to wives who think it's unfair: Would you want to be married to a man who didn't have the guts to make a decision? Who deferred to you on everything? You might love the man or pity him, but you'd never respect him.

It is logically necessary for someone to have the final say. And when the husband doesn't have it three bad things must follow: the man feels rotten about himself, the wife holds him in contempt, and the Lord is dishonored.


The Puritan view of parents and children.
The Puritan big idea can be summed up in one word: stewardship. Our children are not ours, but God's. What parents are required to do, therefore, is to bring them up for Christ. 

"The children born in our families are born
unto God. God leased them out to us".
(Deodat Lawson)

This means we're responsible to God for what we do with our kids. They're not ours, but His. Therefore, they're to be brought up the way He says, and not the way we think best.

What do parents owe their children? Puritans insist on three things:
We must provide for their physical needs.
"If others suffer need, yet the children will surely
be taken care of, for as long as there is anything
to be had".

We must provide for their future. According to Cotton Mather every father is required to see that his children are instructed,

"In some honest, lawful calling, labor,
or employment, either in farming or
in some other trade profitable for
themselves and the commonwealth".

In other words, parents have to teach their children how to work for a living. This includes the basics of taking orders, cooperating with people, starting on time, being there until time to leave, even when you're not feeling perfect, and so on. 

And also vocational training or a professional education. Teaching them to work is every parent's duty. Benjamin Wadsworth stressed the importance-even if they didn't need to the money,

"If parents train their children to be serviceable
in their generation, they do better for them than
if they should bring them up to be idle, and
yet leave them great estates".

In other words, it's better to leave your kids nothing, but teach them to work than to let them be idle and leave them a fortune!
The Puritans agree with the Jewish proverb,

"The man who does not teach his son to work
teaches him to be a thief".

Insofar as we can do it, we must provide for their eternity. Cotton Mather also notes,

"Before all, and above all, is the knowledge of the
Christian religion that parents are to teach their
Children. The knowledge of other things, be
it ever so desirable for them, our children
May arrive in eternal happiness without it.
But the knowledge of the godly doctrine of Jesus
Christ is a million times more necessary for them".


There's one more subject to explore and that's the discipline of children. 
    1. Family is for-the glory of God.
    2. Family is to be governed-by the husband and father who rules in love and wisdom.
    3. Parents owe their children-a decent life, a promising future, and in as much as lies within you, eternal life. 
    4. All discipline therefore is rooted in love, not anger, wrath, or vengeance.
May God bless our families and make them what they ought to be. A kingdom Christ's people.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Motion 4, What is the Church

Passed by a majority of clergy and members.  The Puritan Church in America defines what the Church is.

The Puritans are more of a federation of churches than a denomination.  We have never claimed to "know it all"-and we would not make the claim now.  We do believe we think with a depth and a breadth that few modern believers can match. Thus, without following pastors blindly, we can learn from the scriptures which are the very word of God.  And all Christians ought to weigh the message of their pastor and the doctrines of their denomination in the light of God's Word.

The Puritan View of Church and Public Worship.


Puritans try to be clear in their thinking, we are fussy about defining our terms. Thus, before saying anything about what the Church does, we shall begin with what the Church is. John Davenport provides the fullest definition,

"It is a company of faithful and holy persons called
out of the world to fellowship with Jesus Christ, and
united in one congregation to Him as members to
their head, and one with another by a holy covenant
for mutual fellowship in holy worship and edification".

Most of us, I think, would agree with Davenport. But it's hard to understand how radical the idea was at the time of Davenport and more so today. Puritanism appears against the background of Roman Catholicism, The Church of England, American Episcopalians, Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists, Assembly of God, Pentecostals, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and Mormons in the USA.  Around the world we mission in Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Orthodox Christian, Jewish, Atheist, and Animist native religion nations.  For many non-Christians the idea of  "church" is not readily understandable.

Catholics define the Church with the organization. To their doctrine since Vatican II, the Church is not only the people of God, but primarily the Pope, Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, and Priests who dispense the grace of God to sinners through the sacraments.

The same may be said of the Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodist churches.  They are a Protestant "Catholic Lite" that see the Church as God's people but also as a Christ representative administering sacraments from the altar.

Then there are the Presbyterian Christians, those of the Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregational, Church of Christ, and Disciples of Christ who view the Church as God's people together with the clergy living and worshiping together in community with the Church as a weekly rest and duty to God.

Puritans tear up this doctrine root and branch!  It simply makes sinners dependent on the Church and not Christ!

As for the supposed reform churches? It has always occupied a middle ground between Catholicism and Puritanism.   Martin Luther defines the Church as, "A congregation of faithful men".  That's the formal doctrine of Anglicans, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Methodists.  But, with its Real Presence in the Lord's Supper, its priesthood, its ceremony, costumes, sacred buildings, and so on, it leaves the impression-at least-that It is the Church and the people are only there to receive God's grace through its officers and ritual.  No more reformed than the post Vatican II Catholics.  In fact an argument can be made the Catholics in Vatican II became more Protestant than Protestants actually stopped being Catholic.  They simply became vernacular liturgy Catholics.

Puritans say no to all of this "reform".  The Church is the People-not everyone who comes to worship on Sunday, of course, but, as William Gouge said,

"Those who inwardly and effectively,
by the Spirit, believe in Christ".


If this is what the Church is-the People of God-how can you tell it from others who make the same claim? Remember, there were cults in those days-not much different than the ones we have today. They all said they were God's people. How can you know that your church is God's Church-and not a synagogue of Satan?

Puritans leave no doubt.  Improving on the Reformers, we believe the Church is identified by three marks. Richard Sibbes tells us what they are,

"The outward marks whereby a true Christian Church
is known are the preaching of the Word purely,
ministering of the Sacraments sincerely, and eccle-
siastical discipline".

The Church is first identified with the pure preaching of God's Word. By "God's Word" here, we mean the Gospel. Because there is no salvation apart from the Gospel, there can be no church where the Gospel is not faithfully preached. If the Church is like a garden, then the Gospel is its source of water. Dry up the water and there is no garden; take away the Gospel, and there is no church.

The faithful preaching of God's Word must not be confused with infallibility.  Puritans do not believe that any man or group of men was above error. John Preston,

"Not to be capable of errors is the inseparable
attribute of God Himself which cannot be said
of any creature".

No Pope, no priest, no presbyter! No one's understanding or preaching is perfect. The Westminster Confession of Faith says,

"The purest churches under heaven are subject
both to mixture and error".

It is the Word preached purely not perfectly that identifies the Church of Christ.

The second mark of the True Church is "ministering the sacraments sincerely". The only Sacraments are Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

Puritans baptize believers who are over 13 only, either by submersion, sprinkling, or by pouring.  It depends on the construction of the church and the local customs of the congregation.  A winter baptism in the river in Massachusetts is impossible in winter.  A cotton mouth infested river in Texas poses problems as well.

Under the right administration of the sacraments, Puritans really mean this: Baptism and the Lord's Supper are means of grace, but they do not necessarily convey salvation to everyone who shares in them. In other words, you're not saved by them. Churches that say you are, are not true churches.

Why not? Because Salvation by Sacrament nullifies the Gospel.

The third mark of a True Church is Ecclesiastic Discipline. If the Church is the People of God, then those who don't belong to God cannot be part of the Church. Either they're not let in at all or, if they are, they are put out after proving they're not saved by their heresies or immoral lives. That's what Church Discipline means. Without being perfect or even mature, the church is made up of, Visible Saints.

In summary, the Church is the People of God and it's recognized by Gospel preaching and holy living.


Now that we know what the Church is and what it looks like, we may look at What the Church does.

It worships Jesus Christ.  Puritans have no King but Jesus Christ.  We respect civil authority, but our first allegiance is to Christ the King.  Whatever benefit we get out of going to church, it is secondary to what Christ gets out of it. And that's worship.

Worship is the Church's first priority. How do we decide what goes into worship and what doesn't? Everyone would agree that some things are appropriate for public worship and other things aren't. But how do we make the call?

There are only three possible answers: tradition, personal preference, and God's Word.

The Roman Catholics (and to a lesser degree, Lutheran and the Church of England reformed churches) arranged their services under the guidance of Tradition. They didn't say the Bible commands us to genuflect in the service, to make the sign of the cross, to burn incense, to use holy water, and so on.  But they added the Church has long done these things, holy men have always approved of them, and many have been blessed by them. And to their way of thinking that's good enough.

Evangelical Churches don't have much of that today, but their standard tends to be personal preference. The pastor wants it; the church likes it; the experts recommend it; or, it appeals to the unsaved or the culture we mission in.

Puritans rejected both the authority of tradition and the spirit of the age.  As for culture, we are children of one God and one Gospel.  The Gospel is the sole authority. Since it is Christ being worshiped in Church it is up to Him to decide what to put in and what to leave out!

Martin Luther was not as strict as we Puritans, but long before we were born, he explained what was wrong with most worship-

"There is an amazing confusion of religious forms
in the world. This came about because all proceeded
without the Word of God, according to the opinion of
men. God does not want to be worshiped in any way
but that which He Himself prescribed".

If God is to be worshiped His way and not ours we have to know where to find His way.  Puritans tell plainly in words one cannot mistake,

"The Scripture is not a partial, but perfect rule of
faith and manners: Nothing is to be observed in
the Church.but what is contained in the Scriptures"
(William Ames).

"Scripture contains all things necessary to be
practiced in the worship of God" (John Owen).
"The New Testament is absolutely perfect for
delivering the whole manner of God's worship"
(Henry Jacob).

God is to be worshiped His way-and His way is revealed in the Bible, especially in the New Testament!
This came to be known as The Regulative Principle. It is well summed up by William Bradshaw,

"We hold and maintain that the Word of God
contained in the writings of the Prophets and
Apostles is of absolute perfection, given by
Christ, the Head of the Church, to be unto the
Same the sole canon and rule of all matters
Of religion, and the worship and service of God
Whatseover. And whatsoever cannot be
Justified by said Word is unlawful".

God's Worship in short is contained in and limited to the Word of God.  God's Worship God's Way.


Now that we know what we are aiming for and on what basis we make our decisions, it's good to ask: How did the Puritan Doctrine change the worship of the Church?
In short, it simplified thingsHere's a string of quotes from Cotton Mather:

"I am of the opinion that all things in the church
should be pure, simple, and removed as far as
possible from the elements and pomps of this world. "

"If the religion be pure, spiritual, simple, and lowly,
As the Gospel most surely is, such must the face
Of ministry be."

"Our principal care and desire is to administer
the ordinances of Christ Himself in their native
purity and simplicity, without any dressing or
painting of human invention".

The Puritans simplified just about everything in the churches. For example, we simplified our Ritual. The Catholics, the Anglicans, and others excelled in ceremony; their services were multi-media presentations the Word was heard, bright colors were seen, the incense was smelled, holy water was felt, and the Wafer was eaten.  Puritans recoiled from the extravaganza. Richard Greenham said,
"The more ceremonies, the less truth".

We do not give special attention to the Church Calendar with its required feast days and fast days. Oliver Cromwell once said,

"Our Christmas Day, Easter Day, our Ascension Day, our
Whitsuntide is every Lord's Day".

Our observance of Christmas is first in the family.  Without trees, gifts, lights, and all the other distractions.  We offer our family to have Christ be born as the King of the family.  In our churches without tree, ornament, manger scene, or lights our pastors preach how Christ can be born into our hearts.  Easter is without eggs, bunnies, baskets, candy, or fashion show.  We worship Resurrected Jesus.  Puritan means we "purify" the celebration of secular and pagan nonsense and get to the Christ centered celebration.

Because the Lord's Supper is not a sacrifice, the stone altar is replaced with a wooden table. And, because the Church must be Word centered, the Table was moved to the side and the pulpit is put front and center.

We simplified Church Music. Because singing is the heritage of all God's People, choirs were dismissed and their challenging songs were replaced with Psalms set to tunes that were easy to sing and consistent with the Glory of God.

Finally, we simplified The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church and they were replaced by the two found in the Bible, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. And these, too, were simplified, in that Puritans take the mystery (or, magic, maybe) out of them and tell the people what they really are signs of God's love and our salvation.


One last thing: What effect did the simplifying of worship have on the Puritans? It had the best effect of all: It allowed everyone to take part in the worship of God.

When the screens were taken down in front, everyone could draw near to God through Jesus Christ.

When the choirs were dismissed, everyone could sing God's praises in his own language.

When the reading and preaching of God's Word was made central to the service, everyone could know God's will for his life. William Weston was a Jesuit priest who hated the Puritans. What made him angry, made the Puritans glad,

"They held arguments, also among themselves, about
the meaning of various Scripture texts, all of them,
men, women, boys and girls, laborers, workmen,
and simpletons".

Gothic buildings, mysterious ceremonies, Latin chants, priestly costumes, and the like leave the people awed, perhaps, but still far from God. But simplify the service and you not only honor God, but bring His people home to their Father.

That's the Puritan view of the Church and Public Worship.  It is all for Christ's glory.