Saturday, March 07, 2015

God’s Battle Plan for the Mind: The Puritan Practice of Biblical Meditation, by David W. Saxton

With regard to Christian piety, we live in the age of the judges. What constitutes Christian piety? Each defines it by what is right in his own eyes. So practices that used to be distinct to Eastern or New Age religions now seem to have become common aspects of evangelical piety. Practices that used to be distinctive to the Roman Catholic Church are appearing more and more often in the context of evangelicalism. So in modern evangelicalism, “meditation” has a wide variety of connotations.

Now whatever shortcomings they may have had, the Puritans certainly sought to ground their faith and practice in the Bible. We may disagree about the extent to which they accomplished that aim, or about whether that was even a good aim in the first place. But they left plenty of clear instruction with regard to the practice of meditation. Unfortunately, that instruction is still couched in the language of the seventeenth century. The difficulty most people find in learning how to read Puritan literature is simply too large an obstacle to reading their writings. So Saxton has taken that literature and presented it conclusions in language that is clear and accessible to the modern reader. He offers a clear definition of biblical meditation. He also discusses various types of meditation distinguished by the Puritans. Then he gives directions on how the modern believer can begin to develop and grow in his own practice of meditation.

For me, the only detraction to the book is the author’s practice of making a point, then remaking the point four or five more times by quoting a variety of Puritans on the issue. Now some find that approach attractive, and for them, this will be a welcome aspect to the book. For me, it is inefficient, and slows the book down. The same material could have been covered in fifty to sixty pages had the Puritan quotes had been eliminated. But since the subtitle of the book specifies the Puritan practice, I suppose the numerous quotations from the Puritans have their place.

In sum, this is a book recommended to help you in your Christian walk.