Steve Nichols: It is summertime, and for the months of June, July, and August we’ll be taking great books to the beach. In June, we will have the Puritans on the beach. To kick us off, we have our good friend returning all the way from Scotland, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson. Dr. Ferguson, it’s great to have you.
Dr. Sinclair Ferguson: Thank you, Steve. It’s always a joy to speak to you and to be with you and anything connected with Ligonier.
Steve Nichols: Before we get into the Puritans and their books, let’s acknowledge that it is summertime, and so I have a summertime question for you. Are you ready?
Dr. Sinclair Ferguson: I’m trying to be.
Steve Nichols: You can give your best Reformed answer to this: What is your favorite beach?
Dr. Sinclair Ferguson: My favorite beach in all the world or just in Scotland?
Steve Nichols: In all of the world, or however you want to answer.
Dr. Sinclair Ferguson: My favorite beach in the United States is Pensacola Beach. One of the reasons for that is that I met our fellow teaching fellow, Bob Godfrey, on the beach of Pensacola in the early 1980s. We have been fast friends ever since. My favorite beach in Scotland is, well, I’ve several. One is the beach at Melvich Bay. Another is Sinclairs Bay, and another is the beach in Aberdeen. These are among my favorite beaches.
Steve Nichols: And Sinclairs Bay is named for you, of course.
Dr. Sinclair Ferguson: I think it’s probably the reverse. It’s in the part of Scotland from which my family on my mother’s side comes. The Sinclairs all seem to live in Caithness, on the North coast. And there’s a lovely bay there called Sinclairs Bay, and a wonderful beach. It’s so cold, of course, that there are no skyscrapers there. Hardly anyone ever goes, but it’s beautiful.
Steve Nichols: For those two days when the sun shines in Scotland.
Dr. Sinclair Ferguson: Well, yes, usually December and January are those days.
Steve Nichols: You mentioned theologians on the beach with you and Dr. Godfrey. We’re going to be talking about taking the Puritans to the beach. Recently, Banner of Truth published a beautiful box set of ten volumes of fifteen books by Puritan divines. You wrote this wonderful introduction to the set, and in it you say, “These are books to return to again and again as old friends.” Could you elaborate on why we should read the Puritans? Why have these as old friends and return to them again and again?
Dr. Sinclair Ferguson: I can answer that from the point of view of personal testimony. I kind of stumbled across these writers from the seventeenth century when I was in my later teenage years, from about seventeen onward. I had read a certain amount of Christian literature in the earlier years of my Christian life. But when I stumbled across these particular authors, I think I found that they were dealing with issues that are absolutely fundamental to every Christian. They were dealing with them in a biblical way, and they also seemed to have an extraordinary pastoral ability to take the Word of God in all of its riches and apply it to basically every conceivable situation of the human heart.
As I went on as a reader, I realized that I was returning to them more and more, because their works were much more satisfying spiritually and theologically to me than a great deal of contemporary literature. And so I think if someone wants to be pointed to teachers who will nourish them, and if they go back to the authors who are in that particular set or any of the books in that set, they will find a richness and a satisfaction in patiently reading them and allowing them not only to teach them biblically and theologically, but also to nurture and nourish their spirits.
Steve Nichols: We do hope that you and those listening enjoy the summer, particularly their times at the beach. Don’t forget to take the Puritans along with you.