“[O]n the errands of angels sent:” The Evangelistic Piety of George Whitefield

In his 19th-century poetic tribute entitled “The Preacher,” John Greenleaf Whittier called George Whitefield “a homeless pilgrim with dubious name / blown about by the winds of fame.”[1]  This fame on both sides of the Atlantic provided Whitefield with a unique platform for preaching the Gospel in his day.  He seemingly seized every opportunity, preaching over 18,000 sermons over the course of his life while traveling frequently between England, America, and Scotland.  Whittier’s poem, while recognizing that Whitefield was not without his faults, summarizes his ministry well with these words: “Up and down the world he went / A John the Baptist crying, Repent!”[2]  Beneath Whitefield’s fiery passion and inexhaustible energy for the Great Commission was an evangelistic piety built upon Calvinistic theology and evangelical convictions about the nature of God and man.  This paper will examine Whitefield’s piety as it relates to his zeal for evangelism through the lens of his life and theology.  The goal is to provide an evaluative summary of the spirituality of a man who lived, in Whittier’s words, as if he were “on the errands of angels sent.”[3]


The article is by Matt Haste, a Ph.D. student in Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. He lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky, with his wife, Cheyenne, and son, Haddon, where he serves as the Adult Discipleship Pastor at Living Hope Baptist Church. To read his entire article, click  here.


[1] John Greenleaf Whittier, “The Preacher,” [on-line]; accessed 18 April 2011; available from  http://www.readbookonline.net, 7798.htm; Internet.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Evangelism George Whitefield Piety Spirituality

à Brakel’s Spirituality of Virtues and Its Implications for Soul Care

This paper will highlight one of the key components of his spirituality as he discusses it in The Christian’s Reasonable Service (CRS), namely his emphasis on virtues. à Brakel’s exposition of virtues is unique and of great value for Christian soul care. In order to demonstrate this, an introduction to à Brakel’s life and his major work The Christian’s Reasonable Service (CRS) will be provided, followed by an analysis of his treatment of the virtues. The paper will conclude with observations regarding the uniqueness of his spirituality of virtues and make comments and suggestions regarding the implications of it for Christian soul care.


The essay is by Lydia Kim-van Daalen, a Ph.D. student in Pastoral Theology and Christian Psychology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.

To read her entire article, click here.

Dutch Reformed Piety Further Reformation Piety Spirituality Wilhelmus à Brakel

“A Holy Life”: Bunyan’s Theology of Piety

The Puritans are well-known for their strong emphasis on purity both in doctrine and in practice. In fact, this very emphasis is obviously one reason why they have been labeled puritans. In chapter one, a case was made that on the ground of this same emphasis, Bunyan can be deservedly regarded as a Puritan. Bunyan undeniably held the essence of Puritanism which may be described in two words: God (doctrine) and godliness (practice). The Puritans believe that right doctrine of God prompts holy practice, and that the practice of holiness becomes only superficial when it does not emanate from the proper knowledge of God.

Charles Hambrick-Stowe contends that ‘“at its heart… Puritanism was a devotional movement, rooted in religious experience, and that ‘the rise of Puritanism and the settlement of New England ought to be understood as a significant episode in the ongoing history of Christian spirituality.”’[1] This reinforces the importance of reading Bunyan in light of his spirituality.

Bunyan’s pursuit in all of life—especially in preaching and in writing—was personal piety. With the help of the Holy Spirit, he made every effort to “be a pattern, and example of piety.”  From Bunyan’s own testimony:

[1] Cited in Dewey D. Wallace, Introduction to The Spirituality of the Later English Puritans: An Anthology (Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1987), xi.


Note: This article is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of Brian G. Najapfour, “‘The Very Heart of Prayer’: Reclaiming John Bunyan’s Spirituality.” Th.M. thesis, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, 2009. Click here to continue reading the article.

John Bunyan Piety Prayer Puritan Puritan piety Spirituality

Puritan Spirituality and Evangelical Spirituality: Are They Different?

Throughout the history of the Christian church various types of spirituality have flourished, such as patristic, medieval, Reformed, Puritan, and Evangelical spiritualities.[1] This review article will focus on both the Puritan and the Evangelical spiritualities by examining the following two books: The Devoted Life edited by Kelly Kapic and Randall Gleason and Evangelical Spirituality by James Gordon. The former represents Puritan piety, whereas the latter, Evangelical spirituality.[2] Before comparing these two spiritualities, it is important, first, to define the term spirituality.


Click here to read my entire essay.

[1] Joel Beeke, in his book Puritan Reformed Spirituality (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2004), approaches Reformed and Puritan spiritualities as single entity. Others, however, treat these two kinds of spirituality separately. For example, see Frank C. Senn’s “Reformed Spirituality” and E. Glenn Hinson’s “Puritan Spirituality,” in Protestant Spiritual Traditions, ed. Frank C. Senn (New York: Paulist Press, 1986). John R. Tyson, editor of Invitation to Christian Spirituality: An Ecumenical Anthology(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), divides his study of Christian Spirituality historically under five categories: (1) the ancient church; (2) the medieval era; (3) the reformation era; (4) modern spirituality; and (5) contemporary spirituality. It is under this fourth category that he places Puritan (in the person of Jonathan Edwards) and Evangelical (in the persons of the Wesley brothers) spiritualities together. This hints that these two types of spirituality have commonality.

[2] As to the terms “piety” and “spirituality,” Jerald C. Brauer notes that “Piety is the term that best expresses Puritan religiousness. Spirituality was a term seldom employed by Puritans, and when used it never referred to their essential religiousness.” Jerald C. Brauer, “Types of Piety,” Church History 56 (1987): 39. In this present study, however, I will refer to these two terms interchangeably.

Evangelical Evangelical Spirituality Piety Puritan piety Revival Spirituality

A Puritan’s Perspective of Galatians 2:20


It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.[1]

Galatians 2:20 is one of “those” verses, and the Puritans are some of “those” people.  They are both difficult to put in neat structured categories and tend to invoke interesting reactions.  Galatians 2:20 provides a concise, mysterious, and powerful picture of the Christian life incorporating within one small verse elements related to justification and the spiritual life that flows from one who has been reconciled with God in redemption.  The Puritans, on the other hand, were a group of religious non-conformists seeking to remove the lasting elements of Catholicism from the church.  As a group, they loosely began in the early to mid 1500’s and were, as a recognized group, essentially over by the late 1600’s.[2] As Lea aptly admits, “Just as it had a vague beginning it gently slides into obscurity.”[3]

In light of those observations, the purpose of this article will be to summarize and critique William Bridge’s (1600?-1671) perspective of Galatians 2:20[4] as presented in a series of five sermons preached over eight weeks in 1648.[5] Before beginning, a couple of qualifications need to be made.  Constructing someone’s exegetical thoughts from a sermon is generally a challenge.  This work proves to be no exception.  Since the Puritans were so keenly focused on application, care must be taken in this reconstruction, because their sermons are not intended to be read as exegetical commentaries.   Additionally, this article will seek to focus on those exegetical insights that are granted to the reader verses Bridge’s points of application.[6]


The article is by Adam McClendon, a Ph.D. student in Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.

Click here to read his entire paper.

[1]The Holy Bible : English Standard Version.(Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Gal 2:20b.

While most English translations place “I have been crucified with Christ” at the beginning of verse twenty, most commentators place it at the end of verse nineteen.  Bridge alludes to the implications of the believers having been crucified in Christ throughout sermons one and two, specifically in his discussion related to justification.  Nevertheless, it seems that he understood this phrase to belong to verse nineteen which is why it is not formally mentioned in relationship to the text of 2:20.  As a result, “I have been crucified with Christ” is not included in this citation.  For discussion concerning whether it should be included with nineteen or twenty see Richard N. Longenecker, Galatians, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 41 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990, 92).

[2]Both a concise definition concerning who the Puritans were and clear dates concerning when they may have begun or ended are beyond the scope of this paper.  Nonetheless, a few comments seem warranted here.  The beginnings and ending of Puritanism as well as what parameters define the category itself are difficult to determine.  They are a people passionate for purity in the Christian life who regularly demonstrated a heart devoted to God and his word.  For the Puritan, no authority equaled that of God’s, not the King’s and certainly not the Pope’s.

Two brief complications in providing a specific definition of the group will be mentioned.  First, one has to determine whether Puritanism should be seen foremost as a political, theological, or spiritual movement. (See Stephen J. Yuille, Puritan Spirituality: The Fear of God in the Affective Theology of George Swinnock [Colorado Springs, CO: Paternoster, 2007], 8-17.)  Certainly components of all three can be seen.  Second, the word “Puritan” was generally not self-descriptive but was used pejoratively similar to modern day terms such as “bigot, killjoy or extremist.” (John Coffey, “Puritanism, Evangelicalism and the Evangelical Protestant Tradition,” in The Advent of Evangelicalism, ed. Michael A. G. Haykin and Kenneth J. Steward [Nashville, TN: B&H Academics, 2008], 255.)  Puritans were in a variety of churches and many if not most of their leaders were pastors.  There were no “First Puritan Churches” or “Puritan meetings”; rather, the term described a group of people from a variety of backgrounds over an extended period of time who were functioning in various locations and vocations from Old to New England.

Concerning their dates, because of their separatist leanings and the persecution they endured, some might argue that the Puritans as a group ended in 1689 with the passage of the Act of Toleration; however, at minimum, it should be acknowledge that there were a variety of theological elements that brought cohesion to those who would be within this group that did not immediately dissipate with the passing of the Act of Toleration.  For a basic, but incomplete, list of some of those characteristics, see Kapic, Kelly M. and Randall C. Gleason, eds., The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 23-32.

For more information concerning these and other difficulties see “Puritanism: The Problem of Definition” in Basil Hall, Humanists and Protestants 1500-1900 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1990), 237-254; Coffey, “Puritanism, Evangelicalism and the Evangelical Protestant Tradition,” 255-8; Kapic, The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics, 16-8; Thomas D. Lea, “The Hermeneutics of the Puritans,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 39 (1996): 271-2; Barrington R. White, Barrington, ed. The English Puritan Tradition (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1980), 12.

[3]Lea, “The Hermeneutics of the Puritans,” 272.

[4]For another extended treatment of this passage by a Puritan, see Richard Sibbes, “The Life of Faith,” and “Salvation Applied,” in Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander B. Grosart, vol. 5 (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001), 357-408.

[5]See “Background” below for more detailed information concerning the sermons.

[6]One of the real treasures of Bridge’s sermons is his application.  While these are not examined in this article, here are a few specifically related to Christ in the believer.  1. Christ in us results in a deep satisfaction in life.  2. Christ in us results in an inseparable communion with Christ.  3. Christ in us results in a life that we proclaim to others.  4. Christ in us results in a forgiven and forgotten past.  5. Christ in us results in finding our identity in Christ.  6. Christ in us results in a “more blessed and glorious Communion with Christ than the other way.  For Union is the root of Communion…” (Bridge, 84.)  7. Christ in us results in the ability to “come with boldness unto the throne of grace, and with unlimited expectations of mercy from God…” (Ibid., 86.)  8. Christ in us results in the experience of “life, growth, and conviction” (Ibid., 15-20.)  9. Lastly, Christ in us results in the ability and responsibility to follow God’s law.

Piety Puritan Sermon Spirituality William Bridge

Calvin on Piety

John Calvin’s Institutes have earned him the title of “the preeminent systematician of the Protestant Reformation.” His reputation as an intellectual, however, is often seen apart from the vital spiritual and pastoral context in which he wrote his theology. For Calvin, theological understanding and practical piety, truth and usefulness, are inseparable. Theology first of all deals with knowledge—knowledge of God and of ourselves—but  there is no true knowledge where there is no true piety.

Calvin’s concept of piety (pietas) is rooted in the knowledge of God and includes attitudes and actions that are directed to the adoration and service of God. In addition, his pietas includes a host of related themes, such as filial piety in human relationships, and respect and love for the image of God in human beings. Calvin’s piety is evident in people who recognize through experiential faith that they have been accepted in Christ and engrafted into His body by the grace of God. In this “mystical union,” the Lord claims them as His own in life and in death. They become God’s people and members of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. This relationship restores their joy of fellowship with God; it recreates their lives.

The purpose of this chapter is to show that Calvin’s piety is fundamentally biblical, with an emphasis on the heart more than the mind. Head and heart must work together, but the heart is more important.[1] After an introductory look at the definition and goal of piety in Calvin’s thinking, I will show how his pietas affects the theological, ecclesiological, and practical dimensions of his thought.


The article is by Joel R. Beeke, president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He is also a pastor of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Click here to read the entire paper.

[1] Serene Jones, Calvin and the Rhetoric of Piety (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1995). Unfortunately, Jones exaggerates Calvin’s use of rhetoric in the service of piety.

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The Believers’ Need for the Church and the Communion of the Saints: A Modern Application of Octavius Winslow’s Work- Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul


As it is natural for water to run down hill, so it is natural for a Christian to grow in Christlikeness through the institution of the church, and the habit of Christian fellowship.  However, the believer who fails to avail himself of the manifold benefits of the church, and the communion of saints will naturally begin to decline spiritually.  In Octavius Winslow’s book Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul,[1] Winslow repeatedly reminded his readers that failure to love, adhere, and participate in these benefits manifested an existing spiritual declension, and furthered spiritual declension.

My aim is first of all to examine Winslow’s warnings and  show that both the church and the communion of the saints are essential to Christian growth.  Secondly to give practical applications as to how a minster and session can help the soul struggling with this issue.  The format will follow the nine specific topics discussed in Winslow.


The article is by Rev. Henry Bartsch, minister of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Chatham Ontario, Canada.  He is currently pursuing an M.Th. degree at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is husband to Tammy and father of six children.

Click here to read the entire paper.

[1] Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul.  (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1993).

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