Friday, July 24, 2009

Puritan Passwords

In our modern age, we utilize passwords all the time for our logging in to our email accounts, banking, and every other business or method of communication that utilizes some basic level of access security. Passwords, of course, are not unique to our age though.

Early Christians (not in the Gnostic fashion of a secret society but for safety and security) used passwords and watchwords when assembling together, as did hunted Scottish Covenanters, French Huguenots and Camisards, and others. Lollards, for example, said upon meeting "May we all drinke of a cuppe" and upon departing "God kepe you and God blesse you" (Shannon McSheffrey and Norman Tanner, eds. and trans., Lollards of Coventry, 1486-1522, p. 36); Guido de Brès and others who attended the first synod gathering of the Reformed Churches in the Lowlands said the password "the vineyard" to gain entrance to the meeting (Jim West, Drinking With Calvin and Luther, p. 57).

Here are a few words from Puritan church history and theology (for those interested in such subjects) that make for great passwords for the more benign use of accessing one's accounts. Don't tell us your passwords, but if you have ideas to share in this vein, please pass them along!

Calvin's pseudonyms -- The many pseudonyms of John Calvin make for useful account passwords.

Calvinus -- The beer of modern Calvinists.

Calviniana -- The legacy of John Calvin.

Septemvir or Septemvirs -- A group of seven men; a term applied to the seven Independent dissenting brethren at the Westminster Assembly (including the five apologists who wrote An Apologeticall Narration -- Thomas Goodwin, Philip Nye, William Bridge, Sidrach Simpson and Jeremiah Burroughs -- and two others, William Greenhill and William Carter).

Amanuensis -- A secretary or assistant, such as Tertius who served the Apostle Paul (Rom. 16.22), or John Wallis, who served as amanuensis to the scribes at the Westminster Assembly.

Smectymnuus -- The nom de plume of a group of Presbyterian Puritans who engaged in a pamphlet war with Joseph Hall over issues of church polity and liturgy. The name is an acronym derived from the initials of the five authors: Stephen Marshall, Edmund Calamy the Elder, Thomas Young, Matthew Newcomen, and William Spurstowe (the "W" represented as "uu"). The group was supported by John Milton as well.

Theodidactic -- The doctrine that all of God's Word teaches us (2 Tim. 3.16), though not all laws (note: judicial) are binding upon Christians.

Periwig -- The word from which 'wig' is derived, a headcovering employed by some Puritans and condemned by others.

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