It was nice to meet J Stephen Yuille today and to hear him give the penultimate paper on Perkins as a Contender for the faith. Observing that although he is called the father of Puritanism Perkins is a Reformer rather than a Puritan, He was an apologist both for the truth and for the Church of England. He gave us 15 reasons why we should read Perkins and these points were something similar to what follows
1. His unwavering commitment to the truth of Scripture in contrast to ancient and modern scepticism
2. His exegetical method which puts the lie to other accepted but flawed methods of interpretation
3. His conviction that the principal work of the Holy Spirit is to illumine what is in Scripture rather than to mystically bring about some immediate knowledge of God within
4. His emphasis on preaching as the thing that we should emphasise - an excellent corrective again to some of the ideas that are prevalent in our present time
5. His plain style of preaching which provides a glimpse into the Reformed conviction that Scripture both informs and transforms and delivers us from ceaseless homiletical innovation
6. His experiential preaching which addresses the matter of Scripture and so provides a paradigm for preachers who want to bring the mind into contact with the real meaning of Scripture. (He was careful to distinguish law and gospel throughout Scripture and to preach both).
7. His detailed description of the doctrine of predestination and his preaching of the gospel which is a corrective to those who say they admire him but fail to show the same balance. (Unlike some of his successors he never lost sight of the free offer)
8. His delight in Christ as an all sufficient Saviour which is a great tonic for those who say that Christ is the answer but do not believe it and offer all sorts of alternatives.
9. His portrayal of Christ our righteousness which provides relief to the sinner aware of his sin and of his need of a Savour.
10. His handling of the doctrine of justification and sanctification which brings light to the current and recurring debates over the relationship between the two.
11. His realism as to the difficulties of the Christian life which is a refreshing cordial to those trapped in the false teaching of a two tier Christianity.
12. His theological acumen provides a great theological, exegetical and philosophical example to us of how to handle doctrine in a balanced way.
13. His repudiation of the Spirit/matter dualistic view which is the answer to the temptation to follow a disembodied pietism.
14. His view of theology as the science of living blessedly forever which is a great antidote to enlightenment ideas that make theology a mere academic exercise. (Perkins quotes Psalm 144:15 again and again)
15. His defence of the wholesome doctrine of love speaks to a church that still struggles to harmonise faith and love, etc.