Book Review: The Puritan Family

The Puritan Family: Religion and Domestic Relations in Seventeenth-Century New EnglandThe Puritan Family: Religion and Domestic Relations in Seventeenth-Century New England by Edmund S. Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am hesitant to comment too much on this book because my knowledge of this period of history is weak. I still found it very fascinating. The most notable thing from the history section was that required obedience can lead to requited affection. The Puritans were strict and hard in many places. But their letters to each other demonstrate that this firm line did not generally cause disdain from their children, wives, or servants. Instead it often produced affection and warmth.

It is also interesting that all segments of society, business, church, family, and government held the same standards. This made discipline easier and clearer.

But the most intriguing part of the book is the last chapter. Morgan argues that later Puritans stopped doing evangelism. Instead they focused entirely on the children of believing parents. This led to what Morgan calls “Puritan Tribalism.” His final line in the book should make those of us who believe in covenant succession stop and think carefully about what we are doing. “When theology became the handmaid of genealogy, Puritanism no longer deserved the name.” Covenant succession is biblical. But if we only look to our children and fail to reach the lost we will ultimately find ourselves dying off like they did.

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