5
May
2017

Reformed Spirituality

Christ the Center hits the road for a series of episodes at Bethel OPC in Wheaton, Illinois. In our first of the series, A. Craig Troxel speaks about Reformed spirituality. Dr. Troxel is pastor of Bethel OPC in Wheaton and teaches adjunct at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana and Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has taught courses on Reformed Spirituality at both institutions.

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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program and learn how to subscribe.

10 Responses

  1. Rev. Toxel’s description of broad evangelical spirituality starting at minute 19:18 is dead on…

    “absolutely appealing to a multistory experience and appealing to an over mystical view and a different understanding of faith–it’s almost like some worship is ‘we walk by sight not by faith’ when a word centered ministry, like what we have in the OPC and the PCA and other reformed churches, is word centered. Therefore it’s more plain…or more simple…it’s a very different thing.”

    This is totally accurate from my experience in a variety of broad evangelical contexts over 15 years. In broad evangelicalism there are three means of grace though that term is not used: the dramatic conversion experience, the personal quiet time, and the small group bible study. These are primary with public worship and the real sacraments being not rejected but assumed and therefore subsumed as secondary.

    The challenge is that when you try to even explain this nuance of focus to our evangelical siblings they don’t understand what you are talking about. They would likely grow offended that one would not consider their ministry word centered when they do quote from or study from the Bible on a very regular basis. They would then move to express concern about the lack of contextualization in reformed ministries resulting in a supposed lack of cultural relevance from their perspective. I would also add that the evangelical graduate schools now put a big emphasis on what they call ‘spiritual formation’.

    At GCTS-Charlotte, where I matriculated, the closest one got to pastoral theology were two required classes call ‘Foundations for Ministry’ and another class called ‘Dynamics of Spiritual Life’. Focus was on practicing personal spiritual disciplines. Lovelace, Foster, Nowen, etc. and a Methodist minister named Robert Mulholland Jr., out of Asbury Seminary, were the primary readings. The loci of Pastoral or Practical Theology are not mentioned in the curriculum and the concept of means of grace are not mentioned or even known among the majority of students. What one absorbs is the idea that personal spiritual disciplines are the center of the Christian life.

  2. In the early years of Princeton Seminary, it was a graduation requirement that seminarians had to have read a certain selection of Reformed spiritual works (e.g., Richard Baxter, Jonathan Edwards, etc.). When I was there from 2010-2013, this was no longer a requirement, but Bruce McCormack did teach a class on Reformed Spirituality. I don’t know how often the class is offered or what the content is.

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