Tuesday, January 12, 2010


+ My friend Ralph Clingan offers this great contribution to our understanding of "Reformed and Always Being Reformed," the Presbyterian motto:

Dearly beloved! A few years ago I did an inventory of my library. My career as an activist pastor, professor and theologian started in 1961, so I have amassed a large collection of books. The largest single segment of my library consists of books about music, prayer and spirituality. I have a book, The Background of Passion Music (London: SCM Press Ltd, 1957) by Basil Smallman late Musicologist of Nottingham University. I may have cited this wee tome before, but in the wake of the demise of beloved feminist, out and proud Lesbian theologian Mary Daly, Smallman's words reminded me of the importance of such passionate workers among us. Jacob Spener (1635-1705), a Reformed pastor and theologian educated at Strasbourg, spent a year in Geneva. Spener found that "the Calvinist branch of the Reformed Church showed ramarkable humanism in the emphasis laid on practical Christianity, on the expression of faith by good works rather than by the strict observance of doctrinal minutiae." His Pia desidera (1675) contained six proposals to guide his students and colleagues:

i The Bible should be studied in private, small group meetings;

ii The laity should regain their position as a common priesthood and their rights to share in the spiritual governance of the church,

iii A new emphasis be placed on practical Christianity,

iv Unbelievers should be approached with greater sympathy and understanding,

v Increased value should be attached to the cultivation of spiritual life in theological education, and

vi A more direct and emotional type of preaching should be encouraged.

As we enter the last year of the first decade of 2000, I found Smallman's citations from Spener a good reminder of how enduring a legacy is ours. Aluta continua ...

Thanks Ralph.  Defintely something worthy of consideration as Christians struggle to work out our identity in a new millenium. 

+ Click here to see all of my "Reformed And Always Being Reformed" (Semper Reformanda) posts.

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