Engraved from the original oil painting in the University Library of Geneva, this is considered Calvin’s best likeness. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Friend Ken Stewart has a new book out, and Scot McKnight is blogging through it in his inimitable style. Well worth reading. A few samples from today’s “episode”:
We are in Ken Stewart’s debt for his enough-is-enough book, Ten Myths About Calvinism: Recovering the Breadth of the Reformed Tradition. Non-Calvinists are not always informed about Calvinism, and are sometimes fond of pointed jabs that do not describe Calvinists accurately, and so a book like this that shows both deep commitment to Calvinism and friendly fire is one we all need. He is also concerned as well with those Calvinists who think they’ve got it figured out but don’t. What Stewart’s book will do is humble Calvinists into thinking their family is more diverse than is often supposed.
And a summary of the ten myths exposed by Ken: Continue reading →
Please, talk among yourselves as we at Bethel University engage in a little love-fest.
My colleague in the College of Arts and Sciences, historian Chris Gehrz, always provides lively insights on his Pietist Schoolman blog. Today, triggered by my post here on the divine value of secular vocation, Chris said some nice things about me on that blog. Then he mused a bit on Pietist (lack of?) contribution to thought about vocation, and some of his favorite sources on the same topic, which happen to be Reformed.
I’m skipping the encomiums (but thanks, Chris!) and moving to the latter part of his post:
Where I talk with students about vocation, I have to admit that I’m drawing chiefly on the Reformed tradition: from the section of John Calvin’s Institutes (on being faithful to one’s divine calling) that is my favorite thing to teach to the first-year students in our Christianity and Western Culture course to theFrederick Buechner sermon on calling that I discuss with our department’s seniors at the end of their capstone seminar. It’s no surprise that, when I started talking about vocation in my initial tenure interview, our then-provost (now-president) chuckled, “For a Pietist, you sure sound like a Calvinist.” Continue reading →
See below for some great church-historical posts from this week in cyberspace. There’s more where these came from: my Bethel University colleague Chris Gehrz’s (yes, that’s his smiling mug at right) new blog, The Pietist Schoolman.
Folks, I know this is considerably “late to the party,” but I just discovered my friend Edwin Woodruff Tait’s recent review of Rob Bell‘s controversial Love Wins, and I believe it’s worth pointing you all to. This is in part because the kerfuffle over Bell’s book has not yet entirely died down, as thoughtful evangelicals (and many polemicists) are still discussing (hurling vitriol at) the book and its author. [For an excellent historical “backgrounder” on the issues raised by Bell in his book, see the article by Christianity Today managing editor Mark Galli here.]
First, the review link, so you can look at it yourself, and then a few clips.
The review may be read here. (And may I add: Edwin, I’m proud to know you!)
Now a few clips (of course, several links of several logical chains are missing in what follows–if you are interested in the whole argument, you should go to the link above):
As I understand this broader argument, it works something like this:
1. Salvation is God’s redeeming and transforming work in the world, overcoming our sinfulness and restoring us to a right relationship with God, one another, and creation.
This seems like it shouldn’t be controversial to me, but certainly many evangelicals speak as if
salvation was simply about having our sins forgiven and going to heaven. Continue reading →
Here is a brief summary and commentary on the sixth lecture of Nicolaus Ludwig Count von Zinzendorf, Bishop of the Church of the Moravian Brethren, from Nine Public Lectures on Important Subjects in Religion, preached in Fetter Lane Chapel in London in the Year 1746. Translated and Edited by George W. Forell, Iowa City, University of Iowa Press, 1973.
Again, this was from early in my graduate experience, 1994-1995, in Dr. Richard Lovelace’s class on the Pietist Renewal at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Lecture VI–That It Is Blessedness and Happiness to Be a Human Soul
‘In the sixth it is clearly proved that being a human soul is in and of itself a blessing for which one can never thank his Creator enough.’ (xxxii)
Text: John 1:11-12 ‘He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.’
[NOTE: are we here to find that stress on adoption that Packer finds so woefully missing from much of historical theology? In a non-theologian? Perhaps this is not so surprising, if it is true. Certainly, Zinzendorf appears to dwell on the fringes of, if not within, a lively sense of the overmastering wonder of adoption!] Continue reading →
This is an important article, though I think there are far more “parties” within evangelicalism today than the two mentioned. I’d be very interested to hear readers’ thoughts on this one, however brief. Y’all come back and post once you’ve read it!
Can revivalistic emotion and liturgical reverence co-exist? What about spontaneous worship and doctrinal carefulness? Yes, these can be part of the same religious experience–indeed, these seemingly contradictory elements coexisted at the very taproot of evangelical history. I explored this in a post on Christianity Today’s history blog:
Evangelicalism’s Hidden Liturgical and Confessional Past
by Chris Armstrong
The emotional energy of Cane Ridge and other early frontier revivals arose from a strong emphasis on the Eucharist.
Many evangelicals – especially younger ones – are today re-engaging tradition. Other evangelicals worry about this re-engagement. They feel that to move toward a more liturgical form of worship or a more fixed, detailed style of theological “confession” is to give up the freer, more emotional worship style or more grass-roots, straightforward doctrinal and theological style won for us by such evangelical forefathers as the 18th century’s John Wesley or the 19th century’s Charles Finney.
I want to suggest that one way forward to healthier engagement with tradition for modern-day evangelicals is through a look at our own recent past. For American revivalism itself grew on unexpected foundations of liturgy and doctrinal confession. Continue reading →
Posted in Resources for Radical Living
Tagged Calvinism, Cane Ridge revival, confessionalism, early republican era, Eucharist, evangelicalism, liturgy, Methodism, Presbyterianism, revivalism, Richard Lovelace, Tradition
It didn’t really come into focus for me until I was working on the Christian History issue on him: the Puritan theologian and revivalist Jonathan Edwards really was one of the two fathers of modern evangelicalism (interestingly, the other was the Arminian John Wesley). With some help from the work of historian Mark Noll, I explored Edwards’s influence in the editor’s note of that issue.
[For a few reflections on what Edwards could still mean to the church today, see this post. On Edwards as the original “ancient-future” evangelical, see here. On his ouster from his own church, this one.]
Jonathan Edwards: From the Editor – Papa Edwards
Conversion. Revival. Biblical authority. A warm-hearted faith touching all areas of personal and social life. Billy Graham believes in these things. So did Billy Sunday, D. L. Moody, and Charles Finney. And so do countless others today who would place themselves in the Protestant family tree most often termed “evangelical.”
If you had to put someone at the very root of this tree, who would it be? Continue reading →
As mentioned in the last post, Jonathan Edwards got thrown out of his own church. Nonetheless, he remains an important pastor-figure for today. Why? 2003 was the 300th anniversary of Edwards’s birth (he was born the same year as his co-conspirator in the birth of evangelicalism, John Wesley), and I reflected on the impact of Edwards on my own life, and his importance to the church. (What is Edwards’s claim on the title “father of evangelicalism”? See here. Why did he get kicked out of his own church? Here. How was he the original “ancient-future” evangelical? Here.)
300-Year-Old Man Returns to Lead His Church
Evangelicals need this grandfather figure more than ever.
By Chris Armstrong | posted 12/05/2003
A recent article by Jay Tolson in U.S. News has reminded me of one of the strangest and most rewarding friendships I have ever enjoyed—one that continues today.
He was a Puritan theologian who had been dead for several centuries and was still known more for his subtle and extensive work in academic philosophy than for his connection with America’s first “revival”—the so-called Great Awakening.
I was a young, newly minted, twentieth century Christian in a Pentecostal church, who had spent much of the previous year basking in a sequence of Spirit-led encounters with the living God. Continue reading →