Item description for Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were by Leland Ryken...
Overview Dr. Ryken's presentation of the Puritan view and style of life is perceptive and accurate. He allows the Puritans to speak for themselves on topics ranging from "Church and Worship" to "Money" and "Marriage and Sex."
Publishers Description 'Ryken's Worldly Saints offers a fine introduction to seventeenth-century Puritanism in its English and American contexts. The work is rich in quotations from Puritan worthies and is ideally suited to general readers who have not delved widely into Puritan literature. It will also be a source of information and inspiration to those who seek a clearer understanding of the Puritan roots of American Christianity.' -Harry Stout, Yale University '...the typical Puritans were not wild men, fierce and freaky, religious fanatics and social extremists, but sober, conscientious, and cultured citizens, persons of principle, determined and disciplined excelling in the domestic virtues, and with no obvious shortcomings save a tendency to run to words when saying anything important, whether to God or to a man. At last the record has been put straight.' -J.I. Packer, Regent College 'Worldly Saints provides a revealing treasury of primary and secondary evidence for understanding the Puritans, who they were, what they believed, and how they acted. This is a book of value and interest for scholars and students, clergy and laity alike.' -Roland Mushat Frye, University of Pennsylvania 'A very persuasive...most interesting book...stuffed with quotations from Puritan sources, almost to the point of making it a mini-anthology.' -Publishers Weekly 'With Worldly Saints, Christians of all persuasions have a tool that provides ready access to the vast treasures of Puritan thought.' -Christianity Today 'Ryken writes with a vigor and enthusiasm that makes delightful reading-never a dull moment.' -Fides et Historia 'Worldly Saints provides a valuable picture of Puritan life and values. It should be useful for general readers as well as for students of history and literature.' -Christianity and Literature
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.9" Width: 6" Height: 0.8" Weight: 1.1 lbs.
Release Date Feb 19, 1991
Publisher Zondervan Publishing
ISBN 0310325013 ISBN13 9780310325017 UPC 025986325015
Availability 0 units.
More About Leland Ryken
Leland Ryken (PhD, University of Oregon) is the Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English at Wheaton College and author or editor of more than thirty books, as well as many articles. He is also a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and lives in Illinois. Philip Ryken (DPhil, University of Oxford, England) is president of Wheaton College. He was formerly senior minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is the author or editor of more than twenty books and lives with his family in Illinois. Todd Wilson (PhD, Cambridge University) is senior pastor of Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois, and lives with his family in Illinois.
Leland Ryken currently resides in the state of Illinois.
Leland Ryken has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Worldly Saints?
Worldly Saints - A Clear Picture of the Puritans Apr 27, 2010
You will read this book and wish it were required reading for all students in middle or high school. It scours away the cynical slime that has been slung on the Puritan era and gives a clear picture of how they really were. While "Worldly Saints" concedes that some of the stereotypes are true - in the areas of hard work, discipline, and strictness, for example - it goes on to show that they were not heartless, bloodless, sexless, lifeless, nor brainless. They loved life and living, loved thinking, as well as loving God, and worshipping and honoring God all seven days of the week.
Their integrity, work ethic, and commitment to education - that mindset on how life is to be lived - produced the individuals who founded a great nation founded on great principles. That is why this should be read by all students. As Americans, they need to know from whence they have come.
Moral issues are frequently discussed in the media, debating why something matters in a moral, social context in the present day. This book helps bring you back to why principles are important, why morality is important, what was the mindset that dominated our nation's founders.
Expect a continued resurgence in [true] Puritanism based on the facts presented in this book and others like it. The men and women of the Puritan era lived their lives based on rock-solid beliefs and principles - the Solid Rock, if you will - and we would all do well to consider how we could improve ourselves by making those principles and beliefs the bedrock on which we base living our own lives.
Great book for people who are already familiar with the Puritans... Nov 24, 2009
Leland Ryken's work, Worldly Saints; The Puritans As They Really Were, was definitely an eye opening experience. It seems that in being Canadian, and less familiar with the Puritans, I have been deceived by many common stereotypes that Ryken addresses in the book. I confess that I've gained as many beliefs about the Puritans from The Simpsons as I've gained from real history (and John Piper; the one pastor I've encountered who says the word "Puritan" in a positive sense). I've often thought of the Puritans as prudish, ornery, stupid old farmers who came to the 13 colonies wanting to escape England for the establishment of their own country where they could make 'fun' illegal. Dispelling many of my myths, Ryken brings out an admirable work of scholarship portraying the Puritans with a balanced and favorable treatment, drawing from a plethora of Puritan writers to establish his case and showing the Puritans as the life loving, God-fearing people that they were.
The book is laid out in quite a straightforward manner, with 12 chapters giving quite a comprehensive overview of Puritanism. Ryken starts with a brief overview of some of the `true' and `false' statements about the Puritans and a quick glance at their historical context. In the next four chapters he analyzes their `home life', tackling their attitudes and beliefs towards work, sex, money and family, with dozens of insightful comments and clarifications on many myths, especially regarding marriage and sex (one of the areas where I admittedly had severely misunderstood the views of the Puritans). The following three chapters deals more with specific `church life', with chapters on preaching, church/worship and their views regarding the Bible. Here Ryken lays out some comments regarding their powerful sermons that drew people from surrounding churches, and their laudable high regard for the scriptures that permeated every facet of their church worship. The next two chapters take a look at the Puritans attitudes and contributions in the fields of education and social action, with some dispelling of the `stupid farmers' myth, and the final two chapters analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the Puritans.
One must admit that Ryken's work is in fact a scholarly work with several strengths and few weaknesses. One of the most notable strengths is his attempt to show, from the Puritans' own hand, the Puritan positions on various theological and social issues. There is no easier way to dispel a myth than to provide proof from the party in question that they neither believed nor practiced anything resembling the accusation at hand.
Another strength of Ryken's work is his obvious effort to give the Puritans a fair hearing for their beliefs, as set against their cultural and socio-economic context. An evidence of an effort to give the Puritans a fair hearing is the many bibliographic resources provided in the book, many of which are at the end of each chapter. Another example of this is the careful explanation of the Puritan views regarding marriage and sex. Unless one would understand how their culture elevated virginity and held marriage in low esteem, one would be tempted to judge the Puritans in the light of 21st century marital and sexual models. Only with observing the Puritans views in their historical and socio-economic context can one see the actual surprising challenges they set against the established norm of their day. In a day where Puritans are caricatured and misunderstood, once one sees the Puritans in their historic context it becomes increasingly clear that an ignorance of the historic context from which they emerged is likely to be the principal contributor to caricatures and misunderstanding.
Though Worldly Saints offers a fair and balanced treatment of the Puritans, there are some weaknesses with the book. Though the book offers a few pages of history, it could be strongly argued that Ryken's work is meant for a person who is already substantially familiar with the Puritans. Ryken delivers quotes with no explanation as to who the referenced person is or why a quotation from them should bear any weight whatsoever. For an uninformed reader, Ryken could very well be quoting obscure and a-typical Puritans that did not represent the mainstream of Puritan thought. The actual text of the book is around 200 pages (minus endnotes, bibliography, index and the many blank pages, and it would have been nice for Ryken to have added 25-50 pages of history so that the less informed reader could pick up the work and have some historic frames of reference regarding people and places. I would have liked to see an initial chapter on the historic roots of Puritanism, specifically (and in light detail) lining out the main people and a timeline of the movement, not just 2 pages. Due to this reason, I simply would not recommend the book to someone as an introduction to Puritanism, though it is definitely a worthy read for a person who has a little more familiarity with the Puritans.
As for the actual contribution of the book to myself, I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed learning what was taught in the chapters on "work", "money" and "education". At my current church there's no shortage of preaching, teaching on the supremacy of scripture and instruction on the God honoring family. I must admit that I find very little teaching on "work", even though it is something that everyone does. It was encouraging to see the Puritan removal of the sacred/secular dichotomy and also the strong emphasis on the purpose of work and money. In the modern materialistic culture of North America, people seem to see the purpose of work as attaining money and the purpose of money as simply being attained for the acquisition of goods. The Puritan challenges to my materialism, as well as my weak Protestant work ethic, are both enlightening and welcome. I also found it interesting how the Puritans started so many schools, showing that they valued both learning and education. One often equates Puritans with the Salem Witch Trials, along with pictures of unwashed lynch mobs and rampant superstition. Ryken helped remind me that this was most certainly not the case, though there always have been ignorant and frightened people all throughout history.
All in all, Worldly Saints was a great book, with plenty of great lessons to learn from the Puritans within its pages. Ryken dispels many of my myths regarding Puritans, writing a work that portrays the Puritans with a balanced and favorable treatment. He eliminates many of the common caricatures from The Simpsons that pervade modern ideas about the Puritans and establishes that the Puritans were life loving, God-fearing people.
Interesting approach Sep 6, 2006
The author uses the writings of the Puritan authors to help clear away our misconceptions of the Puritans. This works very well. However, it does very little to put the Puritans in their historical context. The Puritans started Havard and they were big on education. This was very interesting. They had very healthy enthusiasm for sex within marriage. However, Ryken points out in his chapter on the problems within Puritanism, the Puritans were so afraid of sin they were worried about commiting adultery with one's wife. Thus, they created a lot of guilt for sex within marriage. The thought/philosophy/theology of the thinkers of a movement is always far more attractive than the practice in every day life. We should look at the Puritan authors themselves for the ideals of Puritanism. Ryken does that well. It is easy to read and he quotes from a variety of writers.
The problem is that he removes the movement from its historical context. He lauds the Puritans for starting Havard, but what about the witch trials? Another problem is repetition, he quotes so much that sometimes the quotes repeat the very same idea over and over. It makes the reading tedious at times.
On the whole I enjoyed the book and I learned a lot about the Puritans, which is exactly what I wanted from the book.
Interesting but incomplete and biased Aug 9, 2006
Well, I guess everybody has to have a supporter, and Dr. Ryken has the rather unenviable job of defending the Puritans. He does so with relish and enthusiasism, if not exactly competence, as his field is English, not history or even theology, and the author is far too biased in favor of the Puritans to pass balanced judgment on them. On the other hand, his greatest pique is against the Catholic church, which he repeatedly misrepresents and diminishes. Really annoying.
So what does history get wrong about the Puritans? According the Ryken, almost everything. Apparently, they dressed well, sang, danced, worked hard, liked sex and sports (just not on Sundays!), and were well educated. The author does a very good job of accurately describing the Puritans as they were, not as later generations have remembered them, and he clears away many misconceptions.
So what does the author get wrong? Besides from the aforementioned anti-Catholic prejudice, Ryken is hopelessly in love with the Pilgrims. Little they did was ever wrong because their intentions were holy and good. So Ryken passes over the Salem witchcraft trials and Cromwell's terrible Irish war in complete silence and minimized other problems people had with them, such as their insufferable self-righteousness and their denigration of others less "holy" than themselves.
The other big problem I have with this book is the lack of history in it. The Pilgrims were around for a century and a half, founded Massachusetts, caused the English Civil War, ran England for a decade, ran the Salem witch trials, and then just then disappeared. I never got much of a sense of history out of this book, perhaps because it is not a history book.
Well written, excellently researched, and a very easy read.
A Good Introduction to the Puritans Jul 12, 2001
This book gives the reader an excellent introduction to ideals of the Puritan movement. It is packed full of quotations since the point of the book is to let the Puritans speak for themselves on selected topics.
This book is an introduction to Puritan thought as a whole, so it does not touch on specific situations. It is very broad and deals with both English and American Puritanism. Though this book is excellent, it should be known by all of you potential buyers that it deals with historical Puritan thought and not with the hard history of facts and events.
Another bonus of this book is that it presents the Puritans in clear light. Dr. Ryken celebrates the Puritan culture but at the same time recognizes that they had clear faults. He includes a whole chapter on things we can learn from the negative examples within Puritanism.