Tag Archives: religious affections

Zinzendorf’s lecture #4–Saving faith is faith-in-distress and faith-in-love, NOT cognitive assent to propositional truths


Here is a brief summary and commentary on the fourth 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, from 94-95, in Dr. Richard Lovelace’s class on the Pietist Renewal at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Lecture IV–Concerning Saving Faith

‘In the fourth, I have described the saving faith of the human soul and that this may certainly be understood under the general heading of love, may even be perceived as a property of a heart in love with the object of faith. (xxxii)

Briefly, Z here identifies faith entirely with love:  “…there is no saving faith which is not simultaneously love for him who laid down his life for us, for him who has created us, without whom we cannot live and exist for one moment.” (Erb, 304)

There is an internal and an external faith, says Z.  Only the former is necessary, and it may be quite invisible to those around the quieter sort of Christian.  Fiducia implicita itself is divided further into faith-in-distress and faith-in-love.  The first is the beginning of faith, when “we see our corruption on all sides and are really anxious because of it.” (305) Continue reading

God in flesh and bone: Medieval devotion to the embodied, incarnate, human Christ


For the complete story of the mill and brewery operator, mother of 14, and “lay mystic” Margery Kempe (1373 – 1438), see my Patron Saints for Postmoderns or the fascinating website “Mapping Margery Kempe.” Why should we care about Margery? Lots of reasons, but here are a couple that particularly struck me, excerpted from the chapter on Margery in Patron Saints:

God in Flesh and Bone

At the start of the chapter I made a connection between Margery and
Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. What was it about Gibson’s
movie that has galvanized so many modern (or if you like, postmodern)
Western Protestants? After all, of representations of Christ’s life there
has been no end. Why did this one, in particular, speak so deeply to so
many? I think there are two answers to this question, and that both of
them can help us understand and benefit from the life of this odd English
mystic, Margery Kempe. Continue reading

Sharing stories from the heart: can reading about the lives of others really change us?


Here is the third of my Christianity Today history website series “Grateful to the Dead: The Diary of Christian History Professor” Links to the first two articles in the series are embedded early in the article:

#3: Sharing Stories from the Heart
Chris Armstrong

[Back in the first installment of this diary, I interacted with the Emergents’ fear that evangelicalism’s entrenched, conservative church culture is just not reaching a young generation. Deep in writing my own “Patron Saints for Postmoderns” course, book, and blog, I suggested that the time might be ripe for telling and hearing stories—in particular, stories of our “foreparents” in the faith. Why not turn to the historical cloud of witnesses and see how they engaged their own cultures? That would seem to be one good way to learn how to translate the gospel for our own cultural moment.

[In the second (most recent) installment, I defended this idea of translating the gospel for new cultural situations against one potent objection: that such translation involves a dangerous compromise. When we set out to do such a translation, say some critics, we are allowing sinful human cultures to set the terms of the discussion. We are adapting and compromising Christ’s essentially countercultural message in illegitimate ways. The church, as Stanley Hauerwas and others argue, should be its own culture. My answer to this objection was to try to bridge the “translators” and the “separators” with a kind of ecumenical position that sees value in both approaches.]

Dear folks,

Perhaps, if you have read the first two installments of this “diary,” you are ready to launch into a lifetime of fruitful biography- and history-reading. But some of you may still be standing on the path, obstructed by one more roadblock: the postmodern claim that the cultural frameworks that have formed us as individuals so strongly condition and define us, that the experiences and ideas of people from other cultural frameworks (that is, other places or times) can never really speak to us or help us. Continue reading