67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
Honest and Forthright History,
By A Customer
This review is from: Worldly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were (Paperback)
I was most pleased to find this book. Though I am a believer in the Puritans being the pinnacle of christianity I knew that they couldn't be perfect. Mr. Ryken has written a most readable and enjoyable history of the Puritans. He does not shy away from clear problems that they had.
What caught my interest most was his demonstration through his scholarship that society under the Puritan "Ideal" had problems, but was infinitely better off than most other areas in western Europe. John Calvin and his followers in Switzerland were clearly extreme in their use of scriptural discipline. The American Puritans were fanatics of control and discipline. The English Puritans were more well rounded in how they were to effect their society.
With all that said, Mr. Ryken has shown that the Puritans were not only good people, but may have been the true moral fiber of their different cultures. There seems to be an underlying truth that where the Puritans had the most influence, the people were the most safe and taken care of by the clergy.
Were there mistakes in the Puritan movement? Yes, and again I say YES. A mistakeless society or movement is the figment of a deranged imagination or science fiction. The Puritans were human. They did wrong. When they were shown the wrong, from a biblical perspective, they repented and made the change.
Modern revisionist historians have made much of the Puritan intolerence's for many things. If these historians would just read Mr. Ryken's book they would see, if they are honest, that the Puritans were very honorable and did stick to what they truly believed to be true.
I liked this book because it made me admire the Puritans afresh. I now believe that when someone insults me by alluding to my "Puritan" ethics that I am being complemented much more than I deserve. I would hope to live up to such a statement.