19 July 2006

Westminster Wednesday: The Indomitable Puritans

Work, work, work.Because I am working my way through Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, the ethos of hard work has been on my mind. In this paragraph, Packer summarizes the Puritans' compelling understanding on work and all of life. Both Rand and the Puritans condemned “laziness and passivity,” but Rand’s objectivism is vacuous at the very point that the Puritans shone with “inexhaustible inner strength.”


About the piety that was central to Puritanism we may generalize as follows. Four qualities stand out as showing its temper. The first is humility, the cultivated lowliness of a sinful creature who is always in the presence of a great and holy God, and can only live before him through being constantly pardoned. The second is receptivity, in the sense of openness to be taught, corrected, and directed by one’s discoveries in Scripture; plus willingness to be disciplined by the darkness of disappointment and inward desertion, as well as encouraged by happy providences; plus readiness to believe that the good hand of a faithful and gracious God, who is ripening his children for future glory, shapes it all, the rough no less than the smooth. The third is doxology, the passion to turn everything into worship and so to glorify God by all one’s words and deeds. The fourth is energy, the spiritual energy of the true Protestant work ethic whereby laziness and passivity are damned as irreligious, just because so much remains to be done before God’s name is hollowed in his world as it should be. That all four qualities are formed by the Puritan view of God, who he is and what he does, is obvious; that, together, they constitute a mind- and heart-set which, once formed, nothing can daunt or destroy is surely no less obvious. In the combination of these four qualities lay the secret of the Puritans’ indomitable and inexhaustible inner strength (A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life, p. 331).

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