Issue No. 40 8 - 14 Oct 2012
The Puritans on Spiritual Warfare By Dr Edwin Tay

The Devoted Life“Puritan” is a term of opprobrium that was first coined in England in the early 1560s. As a smear word, it carried the notions of censoriousness, conceit, and hypocrisy. Until today, its negative use remains. One dictionary defines the “puritan” as a person who is “extremely strict in morals and who regards pleas-ure as sinful.”

When applied, however, to the group of pastor-theologians from the Church of England who labored for more extensive reformation of their national church in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, such derogatory connotations should be set aside. The Puritans, as these pastor-theologians are commonly called, were no self-righteous hypocrites who lacked a sense of humour. “The Puritans as they really were”, to use the title of Leland Ryken’s helpful book, were “worldly saints” who enjoyed all of life as God’s good gift (thus, worldly). They saw every sphere of this God-given life as the context for dox-ology and the pursuit of godliness (thus, saints).

Puritan conception of the Christian life is rooted in the doctrine of God as sovereign Creator and Redeemer, and hence essentially positive in outlook. However, it was by no means naïve. Being deeply committed to the Scriptural account of the world, the Puritans were well aware that until Christ returns, the church is caught up in warfare against diabolic forces that seek to destroy the works of God. In Puritan literature such as sermons, theological treatises, pastoral tracts, personal diaries, and annotations of Scripture (what is today called bible commentaries), Satan’s place in this warfare was amply accounted for.

To give readers of BTW a taste of the way in which spiritual warfare was conceived by the Puritans, I have extracted the following paragraphs from an article by Dr J. I. Packer on John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. The article is found in a recent book that BGST library has acquired. It is entitled, The Devoted Life: An Invi-tation to the Puritan Classics (Downers Grove: IVP, 2004). Summing up the attitude that Christians are to adopt from the narrative of Pilgrim’s Progress, Packer comments:

“One must be prepared for constant buffetings from tears and threats of all kinds (Satanic attacks, pictured by Apollyon and the lions; Vanity-Fair, an emblem of unfriendly society; hostile energies here imaged as malevolent giants; and so forth). These cannot be avoided. They have to be faced and overcome. God provides pilgrims with armour ‘of proof’ (that is, of tested quality), but they themselves must come to terms with their own fears and actually fight, and that is something that proves to be necessary over and over again. As Bun-yan versifies:

A Christian man is never long at ease,
When one fright’s gone, another doth him seize.

And as Christian, fighting his way up the hill called Difficulty, declares:

This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend;
For I perceive the way to life lies here;
Come, pluck up, Heart; let’s neither faint nor fear;
Better, tho’ difficult, th’right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.”

Learning how to fight the good fight is an essential part of Christian discipleship. Why not pick up The Devoted Life from BGST library [289.5 KAP] and learn how to do so from the Puritans?

Faculty News
Dr Philip Satterthwaite will be preaching at Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church (8.00, 8.45 and 11.00 a.m. services) on 14 October 2012. The topic is “The Dangerous Holiness of God” (Numbers 16-18).
Chapel News
Please note that there will be no chapel on 17 October 2012.
Upcoming Open Lecture & Course
Government & Politics "A Christian Theology of Government and Politics in Asia today" (MM302, 1.5 credits)

Adjunct Lecturer: Mr Benjamin Pwee Mr Benjamin Pwee
Starts Wednesday, 10 October, 2012 with an Open Lecture followed by Lesson 1
Venue: Community for Christ Church,
37 Jalan Pemimpin, #03-03A,
Blk A, Clarus Centre, S(577177)
Other Dates:

Wednesday, Oct 31,
Monday, Nov 5
Wednesday, Nov 14 & 21

Time: 7.15 pm - 10.00 pm
Venue for subsequent lectures: BGST @ Clarus Centre, 37 Jalan Pemimpin, Block B, #06-05, S (577177)
Fees: $225.00 (for credits); $157.50 (by audit)


This is a basic introductory course to introduce the lay Christian believer to the topic of government and politics. It seeks to build a basic understanding and appreciation of government and politics, and current trends and challenges in government and politics in Asia today. It hopes to also construct a basic theological framework for constructive and active participation by Christian believers in the public square in their personal and professional capacities. For more information, please visit our website: http://bgst.edu.sg/media/files/courses/mm302-12.pdf

Click here to sign-up for the Open Lecture | Click here to register for the course

Upcoming Courses

The Doctrine of the Trinity in the Early Church
(commencing on 16 Oct 2012) TS/CH222 (1.5 cr)

Lecturer: Dr Tan Loe Joo Dr Tan Loe Joo
Time: 7.15 pm - 10.00 pm
Dates: Oct 16, 23, 30, Nov 6, 20, 27
Venue: BGST, Clarus Centre, 37 Jalan Pemimpin, Blk B, #06-05, Singapore (577177)
Fees: $225 (credit); $157.50 (audit)


The course will explore the emergence of the doctrine of the Trinity during one of the most theologically creative and historically exciting periods of the Christian church, namely the patristic era. Through looking at the writings of major figures such as Tertullian, Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers, Augustine and John of Damascus, various trajectories set in motion by the Greek and Latin Fathers that were concerned with an emphasis on the sameness of the Father, Son and Spirit, and others that stressed their diversity, which culminated in the various Councils, will be examined and discussed. Finally, the relevance of the doctrine for contemporary issues, such as the Trinitarian theology of religions and Social Trinitarianism will be analyzed. For more information, please visit our website at

Click here to register for the course

The Craft of Teaching
(commencing on 30 Oct 2012) ECF511 (1.5 cr)

Lecturer: Dr Ng Peh Cheng Ng Peh Cheng
Venue: BGST, Clarus Centre, 37 Jalan Pemimpin, Blk B, #06-05, S(577177)
Dates & Times: Tuesday, Oct 30, 7.15-10.15 pm
Saturday, Nov 3, 10, 9.30 am - 12.30 pm; 1-4 pm
Fees: $225 (for credit); $157.50 (for audit)


Examines the teaching acts of Jesus and the theories of learning to gain an understanding of the principles and methods of effective and creative Christian teaching. Emphasis is on the process of designing teaching plans that demonstrate creative teaching strategies and relevance to ministry contexts. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.bgst.edu.sg/courses-and-events/293-the-craft-of-teaching

Click here to register for the course


Course Schedule for 2012-2013 Semester 2

For more information on Course Schedule, please visit our website: http://www.bgst.edu.sg/media/files/courses/2012-2013-sem2.pdf

2012-2013 Sem 2

37 Jalan Pemimpin, #06-05 Block B, Clarus Centre, S(577177).
Tel: 6227-6815 Fax: 6255-3686 Email: inquiry@bgst.edu.sg
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