Puritan Book Club

Sandra, a member of Tayside Christian Fellowship, alongside other members, has started a Puritan Book club. To find out more, read below!

How did the Puritan Book club commence?

When I worked on Internet Evangelism, the most common question that came from Christian men and women, was along the lines of, ‘How can I break free from the habitual cycle of sinning…’   They were genuine, committed believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, but so many of them were in places of despair and discouragement over their powerlessness to control sinful impulses and behaviour.   So, although the Bible states quite clearly that ‘sin shall not rule over us’  the reality is that so often it does, and we disregard or tolerate it at our peril.   In fact, Romans 8 tells us that we are ‘under obligation’ to deal with it ruthlessly.  

The believers of a previous generation – the Puritans – taught us to mould our mind according to the Bible.   They loved the Bible, they lived the Bible, they sang the Bible, they preached the Bible, they read the Bible, and they memorised the Bible.   And so, they were acutely aware of personal sinful inclinations that were at odds with their public display of faith.

John Owen, one of the Christian giants in the mid 1600’s preached a series of sermons on Romans 8:13, “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”   These sermons were put together in a book called ‘The Mortification of Sin’   (a real cheery title)   but in essence, what he was teaching was ‘Be killing sin or sin will be killing you’!   Perhaps not killing you physically, but it will kill your joy in the Lord, destroy your peace, spoil your testimony, and make your usefulness to God null and void.  

So, in April of this year, a dozen or so men and women representing all the Home Groups across the church, every age range through 30 to 70, decided to get together on a monthly basis to read Owen’s book for ourselves.   The language spoken in the 1600’s  wasn’t too easy to follow but the book has been updated into modern English – the version we are using – and though the material is challenging, it is readable for the average person.

What happens at the Puritan Book club?

There is fun and laughter and good-natured banter,  and over tea and coffee (and strawberries and sweeties!!) we talk through the particular chapter in the book we have been reading up on at home.   We are finding it helpful doing this in company, because what one misses another catches, and if it’s something that seems a bit obscure, there’s sure to be one bright spark in the group who can shed light on it.   

By its very nature, the content of the book is hard-hitting, but not to cause despair or guilt, but rather to give hope and encouragement.   It reveals that the strength and comfort of our spiritual lives depend on killing sin, shows the duplicitous nature of sin, (and that’s been an eye-opener ) yet teaches that all who are prepared to fight this battle,  can live in victory over sin,  but only as we allow the power of the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us.     The club functions in a ‘safe zone’ where there is privacy and confidentiality, openness and honesty.   In various ways, we all have areas of weakness and vulnerability, but one thing that gives great encouragement as we read and discuss John Owen’s book, is that God is in the business of making something beautiful out of broken lives.

Who can join the Puritan Book club?

Now this is by no means an exclusive club, and anyone (everyone!!) would be welcome to join in.   There are so many good books written by great men of previous generations and  we can learn so much from their words, works and wisdom, all of which has stood the test of time.  So, if you are at all interested, speak to either the Tayside Christian Fellowship pastor Will Cottrell or myself.

It’s always a delight for me personally to be involved in a few of the many small group activities in the church, and to be in an environment where I am accepted and loved, supported and encouraged.   But it’s a greater joy to meet with the whole church Sunday by Sunday to collectively worship God and exalt to the highest place, the One who is ‘altogether lovely’ – the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sandra M

Header photo by Tom Hermans on Unsplash

Article published October 2023