“They Loved God and Their People”

At 23, I read and was wonderfully stunned by John Owen’s book, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. I’m still awed by the power and grace of God to ransom, reconcile and restore his children.

Dr. Don Kistler is a Bible teacher and author, and is considered to be one of the foremost experts on Jonathan Edwards and Puritan writings.

Northampton Press, Dr. Kistler’s publishing arm, publishes Puritan works that have been out of print for many years, including rare, never-before published sermons of Jonathan Edwards.

More information about Dr. Kistler and Northampton Press can be found at his website.

In this interview, Dr. Kistler shares his thoughts on Puritanism, Christian joy, and football.

Alternate Arts: Many people have a preconception of who the Puritans were. How would you define them?

Kistler: The Puritans were a group of clergymen in the Church of England who believed that God wanted a pure church…not a perfect one, but one that strived for purity, particularly in her ministers.

Alternate Arts: What do people misunderstand about the Puritans?

Kistler: They took God and the Bible seriously. If God said it, He must mean it. They loved God and they loved their people.

Alternate Arts: How are the writings of the Puritans relevant for today?

Kistler: Human nature hasn’t changed, so their writings are just as relevant today (if not more so) than they were 400 years ago. We’re still dealing with sin, sanctification, our own egos, etc.

Alternate Arts: How do you find out about books that have been out of print for hundreds of years?

Kistler: Years ago I read a book entitled The Genius of Puritanism. At the back there was a bibliography. I started finding and reading those books, and usually the author would recommend a book or too. So it was a snowballing effect.

Alternate Arts: Could you walk us through a top five list of books, videos or audio for the person who wants to learn more about Puritans and/or theology?

Kistler:
A. The Genius of Puritanism, by Peter Lewis
B. None But Christ, by John Wall
C. Heaven Taken by Storm, by Thomas Watson
D. Any collection of sermons by Jonathan Edwards (don’t start with his highly philosophical works, but his sermons)
E. Grace, by Christopher Love

Alternate Arts: What is it about Jonathan Edwards’ theology that still rings down through the years?

Kistler: Like the other Puritans, he was completely God-centered rather than man-centered. Also, he was a first rate thinker.

Alternate Arts: In what ways is Christian joy evidenced in reformed theology?

Kistler: The joy is found in knowing God intimately, which is what reformed theology is all about.

Alternate Arts: What do you view as your life’s mission?

Kistler: I see it as getting as many great Puritan books back into print as possible. So far I’ve done over 350.

Alternate Arts: Can you give us an overview of the two books you’ve written, A Spectacle unto God: The Life and Death of Christopher Love, and Why Read the Puritans Today?

Kistler: Christopher Love was an amazing historical figure in 17th century England. My book on him tells his story through his letters to his wife as he faced beheading on Tower Hill in London. “Why Read” is simply a booklet giving 10 reasons why people should read the Puritans.

Alternate Arts: You coached high school and college football for over 15 years. Do you still follow football? If so, which teams?

Kistler: I miss football a lot. I follow the Steelers and the Patriots as far as NFL teams go. As for college I follow 2 Division II teams: The University of West Florida (the head coach is a former player of mine), and Azusa Pacific University (my alma mater).

2 Comments on ““They Loved God and Their People””

  1. If you are intrigued by history, the story of Christopher Love is truly amazing. You get to see the good, the bad and the ugly truths about Christians. You also get to see that incredible reality of God using people like us to serve as beacons to the world. Don is right, our human nature is still the same. The Puritans were pastors, in love with God and with his people. As we wait for that marvelous day when we will all be changed and finally our nature will return to what it was created as, it is good to have such men among us.

    The work that Don does, is remarkable and I hope many will be drawn to read many of the books that Don is having republished.

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