Godly Conversation presents Puritan spirituality as a significant contribution to the contemporary discussion of spiritual formation. The mission of this book is to explore a historical segment of the Protestant heritage, a time when people were serious about God and their walk with him, the truth of Scripture, care for souls, and the journey-sustaining power of community. Today, those serious about community-pastoral ministry and staffs, small group Bible studies, or families-will be surprised to find out how a movement in 16th and 17th century England can impact their biblical literacy and help them influence the development of a thriving community today.
With one eye constantly on the needs of the contemporary church, practical theologian Joanne Jung has recovered an important aspect of Christian community from old and neglected Puritan sources. This stimulating and important study examines the gathering of the saints in informal settings, or conferences, where Scripture and sermons were discussed and ingested to nurture the spiritual life. The cumulative effect of Jungs research is to put the topic of conference at the top of the list of important Puritan disciplines, thereby redressing the popular misconception that Puritans were individualists. The book offers us a detailed taxonomy of the types of Puritan conference, and it expounds for the first time the important role that women played in fostering the practice. The study is based on extensive original research in primary sources, and the authors infectious passion for the church and its history clearly demonstrates that the old can illumine the new and inform and guide the church today.
-James E. Bradley,
Geoffrey W. Bromiley Professor of Church History, Fuller Theological Seminary
There is a strong resurgence of interest in the history of Christian spiritual practices, yet too few are familiar with the important contributions made by the Puritans. In this book, Joanne J. Jung provides a wonderful addition to the literature by exploring the Puritan practice of conference, a vital and varied aspect of Puritan spirituality that is not widely enough known. Not only does this study offer historical insight, it also suggests the contemporary relevance of conference for believers today.
-Kelly M. Kapic,
Professor of Theological Studies, Covenant College
Dr. Joanne Jung has done a great service to the church by bringing back to our attention the long-forgotten Puritan spiritual practice of conference in all its various forms. Not content merely to explore this practice on an academic level (although her thorough exploration of Puritan materials would be reason enough for this book), Dr. Jung takes the next step and shows how this discipline connects with the contemporary church as an antidote to the now moribund small group movement. Godly Conversation: Rediscovering the Puritan Practice of Conference is a welcome and valuable addition to the now growing literature on spiritual formation.
Robert Boyd Munger Professor of Evangelism & Spiritual Formation, Fuller Theological Seminary
In her thoroughly researched and beautifully written book, Professor Jung has provided her readers with an abundance of practical wisdom and profound spiritual insight. For those who hunger for authentic relationships and godly spiritual guidance, praying fervently for Gods renewing touch on their lives and in their communities, Godly Conversation: Rediscovering the Puritan Practice of Conference provides instruction, inspiration, and hope.
Professor of Church History, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary