"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Reformed Spirituality

Shortly, I will begin teaching a mid-week class (if anyone shows up) on Reformed Spirituality. Why not just "Christian Spirituality"? Well, I don't believe a generic Spirituality exists, and you can read my previous post of Lewis' explanation of what he meant by "Mere Christianity" for explanation. Within the traditions of the church are the fires of Christian Spirituality. Since this will consume much of my time over the next few months, any posts I do will probably flow from that. So, if the topic of Spirituality is not of interest, tune back in in March, I may do some different posts then, maybe my long delayed series "Why I am a Reformed Catholic." Until then, I will share a selection of the first reading. The topic is Knowledge and it comes from the first few lines of Calvin's Institutes:

1. Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other. For, in the first place, no man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves; because it is perfectly obvious, that the endowments which we possess cannot possibly be from ourselves; nay, that our very being is nothing else than subsistence in God alone. In the second place, those blessings which unceasingly distil to us from heaven, are like streams conducting us to the fountain. Here, again, the infinitude of good which resides in God becomes more apparent from our poverty. In particular, the miserable ruin into which the revolt of the first man has plunged us, compels us to turn our eyes upwards; not only that while hungry and famishing we may thence ask what we want, but being aroused by fear may learn humility. For as there exists in man something like a world of misery, and ever since we were stripped of the divine attire our naked shame discloses an immense series of disgraceful properties every man, being stung by the consciousness of his own unhappiness, in this way necessarily obtains at least some knowledge of God. Thus, our feeling of ignorance, vanity, want, weakness, in short, depravity and corruption, reminds us, that in the Lord, and none but He, dwell the true light of wisdom, solid virtue, exuberant goodness. We are accordingly urged by our own evil things to consider the good things of God; and, indeed, we cannot aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves. For what man is not disposed to rest in himself? Who, in fact, does not thus rest, so long as he is unknown to himself; that is, so long as he is contented with his own endowments, and unconscious or unmindful of his misery? Every person, therefore, on coming to the knowledge of himself, is not only urged to seek God, but is also led as by the hand to find him.


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Aaron said...

Sounds cool. I look forward to seeing you unpack this. My question would be is there a "generic Christian" spirtuality which runs though many brand names of which "Reformed" would be the form of which it is in fullest bloom so to speak. Don't know. Look forward to more so I can explore it as you guide.