Endorsements & Reviews-
"In this fine book Tom Schwanda lets us in on something that has regrettably been kept a secret in recent years: that the Puritans have much to teach us about a genuinely Christian-yes, and even a profoundly Calvinist!-mysticism. Isaac Ambrose here offers us profound guidance from the seventeenth century, about matters that are of crucial importance for the present-day quest for godliness."
President and Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary
"As Tom Schwanda shows in this fascinating study of Isaac Ambrose's spiritual delight in the ravishing beauty of Christ, such a piety is typically Puritan and also of enormous value for our day. Forgetfulness, nay rejection, of the way the Puritans read texts like the Song of Solomon has hindered contemporary appreciation of their piety and its exegetical basis. May a renewed appreciation of their exegesis lead to an ever-deepening recognition of the importance of Puritan piety!"
--Michael A. G. Haykin
Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"While mystical ideas must always be sifted with biblical discernment, it is undeniable that the Reformed and Puritan tradition contains a richly experiential emphasis on delighting in God through Christ. Tom Schwanda has done us a great service in probing that tradition in this study of Isaac Ambrose in his historical context. He offers a nuanced explanation of Ambrose's view of being ravished with Christ, the Bridegroom of the church. He . . . encourages evangelicals to return to our Reformed roots in order to grow in authentic spirituality."
--Joel R. Beeke
President of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids
"Schwanda's study of the 'contemplative-mystical piety' of seventeenth-century English Puritan Isaac Ambrose exhibits the best kind of Christian scholarship. This deeply researched book by an accomplished historian also explores the relevance of Ambrose's sense of intimacy with Christ for spiritual practice today. Schwanda renders a great service to the academy and church alike by bringing the writings and spiritual life of this key figure in the Puritan movement to light."
First Congregational Church of Ridgefield, Connecticut
"Puritans are often depicted as legalistic disciplinarians who agonized over predestination. This richly researched book offers an important corrective. Isaac Ambrose was a Puritan pastor devoted to contemplative piety, a man who long before Thoreau enjoyed month-long annual retreats in the woods. Schwanda situates his subject within a variety of broader contexts and makes a compelling case for 'Puritan mysticism' . . . a valuable addition to the literature on Reformed spirituality."
Professor of Early Modern History, University of Leicester
"Soul Recreation painstakingly and lovingly traces robust forms of mystical piety among the moderate strand of Puritans by focusing on Isaac Ambrose's writings and ministry… This book will immediately appear on my reading lists for its historical, theological, and mystical teaching."
-- Janet Ruffing, Yale Divinity School, as reviewed in Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality (Spring 2015)