Update 1: Some have brought up the fact that I forgot to actually list the books for each month in this post (although they are in the prior post). I have included them so that everyone can know what books scheduled to read. However, if you would like to develop your own PP reading schedule, then you are free to do so.
Update 2: Many of you have already purchased the entire set for $65, so many that we are experiencing a shortage on some of the Puritan Paperbacks. This is a great thing! Would that all the PP’s become best-sellers in 2008. However, if there is a problem with obtaining the books by the time of the scheduled read, we will rearrange the reading to make that possible.
Update 3: Some have asked about how to insert the HTML code for the blog button. I cannot simply copy and paste the code because WordPress will convert it to the image. So you need to insert this url http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2052/2172676863_e1315a3839_o.jpg where the code says “INSERT JPEG HERE.”
<a href=”http://timmybrister.com/2008/01/07/join-the-2008-puritan-reading-challenge/”><img src=”INSERT JPEG URL HERE”></a>
Then copy and paste the entire code into your template sidebar or text widget (if you are using WordPress). Please let me know if you have any more questions!
Update 4: A word from Tim Keller from Justin Taylor’s post:
For what it’s worth, I read all but one of the books on this list during seminary and my early ministry, and they had an enormous, life-changing, ministry-shaping impact on me. A couple of them almost literally saved my life. I couldn’t recommend them more highly. I’d only add: a) Read Owen on Temptation as well as Mortification. It’s short and well worth the read. b) Consider adding Baxter’s Saints Everlasting Rest. Other than those, I’d agree that these are the best short, accessible Puritan works. A great list.
Update 5: After three days, over 100 people have signed on! I am super-excited. Also I have tallied 55 blogs plugging or blogging the challenge. Thanks to everyone who has helped get the word out! Perhaps we can see 200?!
Towards the close of 2007, I began thinking of a way I could challenge myself to grow spiritually through a reading regiment and schedule. While riding home from work one morning, I came up with the idea of reading one Puritan Paperback a month, along with incorporating the Valley of Vision in my devotional meditations and prayers. I shared my personal challenge publicly, not thinking much about it.
To my surprise, this Puritan reading challenge has resonated with more people than I could have ever imagined. Due to the high level of interest and encouragement from many people wanting to take on this reading challenge together, I have worked to make this Puritan reading project the best it could be. Allow me to briefly share with you some of the developments, but before I do, let me ask a personal favor:
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have decided to join the 2008 Puritan Reading Challenge, please take a moment and comment on this post, providing your first and last name. If you are going to blog through the books or promote the challenge on your blog, please express your intentions as well. This way I will have a general idea of who’s in and how to communicate with everyone throughout the year.
1. Reformation Heritage Books Partnership and Specials
I am excited to share with you that Reformation Heritage Books, has agreed to partner with us in the 2008 Puritan Reading Challenge. Several of you have contacted me via the blog, Facebook, and email about getting them all at one time at a discounted price, and RHB has delivered on that request. Although RHB already has the lowest prices on Puritan Paperbacks (usually around 30% off), they have created a 2008 Puritan Reading Special where you can buy all 12 Puritan Paperbacks together in one bundle, saving you 36% off the retail price. The 12 books retail for $101.00, and RHB is selling them for only $65.00. Here is the line-up of books we are reading this year:
January: The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes (128 pp)
February: The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel (221 pp)
March: The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson (252 pp)
April: Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks (253 pp)
May: Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ by John Bunyan (225 pp)
June: The Mortification of Sin by John Owen (130 pp)
July: A Lifting Up for the Downcast by William Bridge (287 pp)
August: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs (228 pp)
September: The True Bounds of Christian Freedom by Samuel Bolton (224 pp)
October: The Christian’s Great Interest by William Guthrie (207 pp)
November: The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter (256 pp)
December: A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine (148 pp)
Secondly, RHB is offering a special discounted price for an excellent Puritan resource, Meet the Puritans by Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson. The book retails for $35.00, and on their website it sells for $25.00. But RHB is now offering a special price of only $20.00. To get this great deal, you must order either via phone or email, letting them know that you heard about the 2008 Puritan Reading Special for Meet the Puritans for only $20.00. The number to call and place your order is (616) 977-0599, or you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. These specials are a fantastic way for you to get you copies of Puritan literature at the most affordable price anywhere, and I am grateful to the good people at RHB for joining in this exciting project.
2. Beneath and Behind the Pages
To make this project more beneficial to you, I have considered ways to provide more context both historically and biographically to each book we are reading. At the beginning of each month, I will post a brief biographical sketch of the author, providing general information about his life, ministry, and other available works. Second, I am going to hunt down online resources related to the author and make them available in one place. Third, if the author’s works are available, I hope to “mine the works” and provide additional topical or thematic reading material that might be of interest to you. Fourth, I hope to provide some quotes from other individuals who have had something to say either about the author or the book we are reading. Last, I am looking to highlight either the thesis or key doctrinal themes in the work we are reading for interaction and discussion. I would love for you to join in sharing your thoughts!
3. Prospective Interviews
It is always good to hear from pastors and theologians who have studied and benefited from the Puritans. With each month, I am hoping to provide an interview of respected leaders who have expressed their appreciated of and indebtedness to the Puritans. I am really excited about this opportunity!
4. Monthly Giveaways
At the close of each month, I am going to post an open thread to conclude each book. The Puritans were intensely practical in their works, often spending the majority of their sermons and literature focusing on the “uses” or application for any given doctrine or biblical truth. They did not want mere head knowledge but a deep, experiential (experimental) knowledge of God. In light of that, the open thread will be an opportunity to answer the question, “How has this book impacted your life? What use will it have in your ministry or service in the kingdom?” In 500 words or less, I would love to hear your testimony regarding your experience that month while reading the Puritan Paperback and internalizing the truths into your heart and life. For January’s giveaway, we are going to randomly select from among those in the comments of this post who sign on to the Puritan Reading Challenge, so be sure sign on!
5. Blog Button Promotional
Over 30 bloggers have been kind enough to mention the 2008 Puritan Reading Challenge, encouraging their readers to check it out. Realizing the potential for this challenge to spread exponentially through the blogosphere, I have created a small button you can use on your sidebar to direct people to this post where they can sign up, order books, or ask any questions they might have. The dimensions of the button are 185×98 at a resolution of 72 dpi and can be downloaded by clicking here.
A Word of Encouragement
I know many of you have never heard of the Puritans. Some of you may have never read literature older than a decade, much less three centuries. Let me sincerely encourage you to consider this challenge. You may not have time or be able to read all twelve books. That’s totally fine. If you read just one, I promise you will have not wasted your time! Inevitably, some of you will read about this challenge sometime during the year. It’s never too late to join in! The goal behind this challenge is to introduce you to some of the godliest men who have ever lived through their writings. While their books may never make the front shelves of your local bookstore, for 2008, they will be on the front of the virtual bookshelf for all who are interested. I pray you are among them!
REMEMBER, if you have decided to join the 2008 Puritan Reading Challenge, please take a moment to leave your first and last name in the comments, expressing your intentions to take the challenge. To the bloggers who want to use the blog button to help promote the project, if you have any questions or problems, please let me know.
I am looking forward to this year sitting at the feet of great teachers like Richard Sibbes, Thomas Watson, John Owen, Richard Baxter, and others along with you. May we pursue the heart of God with greater affections, and may we renew our minds with higher thoughts of the greatness and glory of God.