This piece was first published last December over at Christianity Today‘s history blog, but since it’s been a while and not all of you saw it the first time, here it is again:
Prominent Reformed Evangelical Promotes Medieval Mystics
by Chris Armstrong | December 10, 2008
This headline seems to fall in the “man bites dog” category. From a professor (also dean and VP) of Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, we expect precise articulations of Reformed doctrine. Defenses of biblical inerrancy. Disquisitions on the priority of theology over experience.
We don’t expect a spirited exhortation to read thousand-year-old mystical texts.
But that’s just what we get in Carl Trueman’s article Why Should Thoughtful Evangelicals Read the Medieval Mystics. And it’s worth reading – whether you share Trueman’s Reformed stance or not. In a nutshell, after acknowledging difficulties, he enumerates four reasons we should read such luminaries of the Middle Ages as Bonaventure, Hildegard of Bingen, and Julian of Norwich. For those wanting to cut to the chase, here’s my brief commentary on Trueman’s article. Continue reading →
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants, Resources for Radical Living
Tagged apophaticism, Bonaventure, Christopher Hall, D H Williams, Dallas Willard, evangelism, Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, Medieval, Middle Ages, mysticism, Richard Foster, Robert Webber, Theology, Thomas Aquinas, Tom Oden
Though the public display of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and government officials facing off over the Ten Commandments is long over, the legacy of the Decalogue in English jurisprudence and society carries on, as it has for hundreds of years:
The Ten Commandments, How Deep Our Debt
The words of the Decalogue run like a river through not only the church but also English and American history.
No matter where they stand on Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s fight to keep his Ten Commandments monument on display at the Alabama Judicial Building, Americans agree that it is symbolic. But symbolic of what?
I will not try to prove Moore’s claim that the Decalogue is “the moral foundation of law in this nation.” But, without question, it is central to Jewish and Christian morality. And, also without question, it is deeply embedded in Western—especially Anglo-American—culture. Continue reading →
Here is a continuation of my previous post on charismatic phenomena in “non-charismatic” church traditions. This time we head back farther in time and cross confessional lines. As with many of these posts, this was previously posted a few years back at http://www.christianhistory.net. For a related article on this blog, see here:
Christian History Corner: Timeline of the Spirit-gifted
Before Moody, Finney, Edwards, and Mather came a long line of Catholic and Orthodox believers reputed to enjoy the promise of the Father.
Several readers wrote in after last week’s newsletter, “Do non-charismatics ‘Do’ Holy Spirit Baptism?” to chide me for omitting the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians who have sought and taught the Spirit’s empowering work in the Christian’s life.
As I thought about filling that gap in this week’s newsletter, it occurred to me: Why should I try to say again what has already been well said, and exceptionally well researched, by a scholar who has made the history of Holy Spirit baptism his life’s work?
Stanley M. Burgess is a professor of religious studies at Southwest Missouri State University and editor of The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Zondervan, 2002). That indispensable tome displays prominently on its cover an abbreviated timeline of Pentecostal prehistory. Continue reading →
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Augustine of Hippo, charismatics, Francis of Assisi, Irenaeus of Lyon, Justin Martyr, miracles, Origen of Alexandria, Orthodox Church, Roman Catholicism, the Didache, the Jansenists, the Shepherd of Hermas, Thomas Aquinas
This chapter will begin by opening up Lewis’s use of medieval understandings of natural law over against modern utilitarianism and relativism (referencing his Abolition of Man, his Cambridge inaugural address “De Descriptione Temporum,” and Mere Christianity). Segueing to Aquinas’s Aristotelian virtue ethics, the chapter will then peer into the development of the famous medieval lists of seven cardinal virtues and seven deadly sins. It will then focus on the moral seriousness and concern for personal holiness reflected in the development of the sacrament of penance and the doctrine of purgatory. Finally, it will exegete “seven corporal acts of mercy” and “seven spiritual works of comfort,” and look at medieval attitudes and actions related to the poor. Continue reading →
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants
Tagged Abolition of Man, Alisdair McIntyre, Aristotle, C S Lewis, doctrine of purgatory, holiness, Jonathan Wilson, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Mere Christianity, new monasticism, relativism, sacrament of penance, seven cardinal virtues, seven deadly sins, Stanley Hauerwas, the poor, Thomas Aquinas, utilitarianism, virtue ethics
In one sense, all of medieval theology was a series of footnotes on Augustine, who had insisted that knowledge begins with faith and faith provides a foundation for knowledge. During the high and late medieval periods, Augustine’s impulse blossomed, through thinkers such as Anselm of Canterbury and Abelard, into a full-blown scholastic theology. Scholasticism gets a bad rap (“Angels on the head of a pin” and such like), but the scholastic doctors were trying to make more intelligent and effective the loyalty to the Christian faith which had become nominal through the mass conversions of the earlier centuries. Indeed, they were actually beginning a democratization of the faith that bore fruit in the Reformation. Their use of reason in theology made knowledge of God accessible, not merely to the cloistered monk with his intense and constant mystical exercises, but to anyone able and willing to think. Continue reading →
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants
Tagged Abelard, Anselm of Canterbury, Augustine of Hippo, Boethius, Dante, Dorothy L Sayers, G K Chesterton, scholasticism, science, The Divine Comedy, the mendicants, the university, Theology, Thomas Aquinas