A Quest for Godliness explores the depth and breadth of Puritan spiritual life. Drawing on a lifetime of study, Packer surveys the lives and teachings of great Puritan leaders such as John Owen, Richard Baxter, and Jonathan Edwards. He examines the Puritan view of the Bible, spiritual gifts, the Sabbath, worship, social action, and the family. The Puritans’ faith, Packer argues, stands in marked contrast with the superficiality of modern western Christianity.
In a time of failing vision and decaying values, this powerful portrait of the Puritans is a beacon of hope that calls us to radical commitment and action, both desperately needed today. Beautifully written, A Quest for Godliness is a moving and challenging exploration of Puritan life and thought. Here is J. I. Packer at his very best.
Dr. Packer masterfully uncovers the hidden treasures of Puritan life and thought. With crystalline clarity he reveals the depth and breadth of Puritan spiritual life, contrasting it with the superficiality and deadness of modern Western Christianity.
The Puritans in Profile
The Puritans and the Bible
The Puritans and the Gospel
The Puritans and the Holy Spirit
The Puritan Christian Life
The Puritans in Ministry
“Fifth, the Puritans have taught me to see and feel the transitoriness of this life, to think of it, with all its richness, as essentially the gymnasium and dressing-room where we are prepared for heaven, and to regard readiness to die as the first step in learning to live.” (Page 13)
“The first fact is that spiritual revival was central to what the Puritans professed to be seeking.” (Page 37)
“Fifth, there are lessons to be learned from their sense of human worth.” (Page 26)
“Sixth, there are lessons to be learned from the Puritans’ ideal of church renewal.” (Page 26)
“Knowing themselves to be creatures of thought, affection, and will, and knowing that God’s way to the human heart (the will) is via the human head (the mind), the Puritans practised meditation, discursive and systematic, on the whole range of biblical truth as they saw it applying to themselves. Puritan meditation on Scripture was modelled on the Puritan sermon; in meditation the Puritan would seek to search and challenge his heart, stir his affections to hate sin and love righteousness, and encourage himself with God’s promises, just as Puritan preachers would do from the pulpit.” (Page 24)
I hope these chapters will excite you, for in them I share discoveries that for forty years have been exciting me. The essays are not just history and historical theology; they are themselves, in aim at least, spirituality, as much as anything else I have written; they focus on ways in which, as I see it, the Puritans are giants compared with us, giants whose help we need if ever we are to grow. Learning from the heroes of the Christian past is in any case an important dimension of that edifying fellowship for which the proper name is the communion of saints. The great Puritans, though dead, still speak to us through their writings, and say things to us that we badly need to hear at this present time. I shall try to set some of these before you, in the chapters that follow.
-J. I. Packer
J. I. Packer (1926–2020) is regarded as one of the most influential evangelicals in North America. He was Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, and his writings include books such as Knowing God, A Quest for Godliness, Growing in Christ (Crossway) and Rediscovering Holiness. He preached and lectured widely in Great Britain and North America and served as general editor of the English Standard Version of the Bible published in 2001, and theological editor of the Study Bible version. In 2014, Packer was named Author of the Year by the Association of Logos Bookstores. He was a frequent contributor to and an executive editor of Christianity Today and wrote numerous articles published in journals such as Churchman, SouthWestern Journal, Reformation Revival Journal and Touchstone. He received a BA, MA and PhD from Oxford University.